Hi! Barb here to welcome our guest Darci Hannah to the blog. Darci shares my love of Christmas and I so enjoyed her delightful post. Darci is giving away a copy of Murder at the Christmas Cookie Bake-Off, the third book in her Beacon Bakeshop Mystery series, to one lucky commenter below.
Take it away, Darci!
Wow! It’s so great to be a guest today on the lovely Wicked Authors Blog, especially since it’s December, and there’s no better month than December to share a little bit about my latest Beacon Bakeshop mystery, Murder at the Christmas Cookie Bake-Off. With a title that boasts Christmas cookies, you can bet that there are plenty of scrumptious cookies mentioned throughout the book, as well as recipes. (It wouldn’t be very nice of me to chat-up cookies for three hundred pages without giving you the means to try them too!) And talk about Christmas spirit! Let’s just say that the town of Beacon Harbor, Michigan has plenty to go around, that and a healthy dose of holiday inspired competition.
When I was given the opportunity to write a Christmas cozy mystery, I jumped at the chance. No hesitation here. I went in with both feet! That’s because deep down I’m the Clark Griswold of my family, (if the reference is unfamiliar, please see National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!) a perpetually optimistic Christmas enthusiast to a fault.
You would think by now, having children in their mid-20s with oodles of Christmas’s under my belt, that I would have learned that striving to create the perfect Christmas experience for my family and friends is beyond the grasp of mere mortals like me. And yet (here’s where the optimism comes in handy), I keep trying. I keep trying because sometimes I get close, and the genuine delight on the faces of family and friends when they open an unexpected gift, or taste the fruits of my kitchen, keeps me reaching for more. Unfortunately, I bequeathed to my protagonist, Lindsey Bakewell, these sugarplum visions as well. Lucky Lindsey!
This love of Christmas for me goes way back to my childhood. I can’t help from being a touch nostalgic at the holidays, thinking of how I felt as a child at Christmas, of the magic and wonder of the season, and how my parents strived to create the perfect Christmas experience for their family and friends. The first time I saw Christmas Vacation, I fell in love with it because it was so relatable. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago in the 1980’s, which is the setting of Christmas Vacation. Watching that movie somehow brings me back to that place and time.
Every year my parents would take us to Marshall Fields (remember that elegant department store?) to see the decorations, do a little shopping, and to have lunch beneath the giant tree. Somehow that store felt like Christmas—from the spectacularly decorated Christmas trees heavy with giant ornaments, to the hint of Chanel No5 (or whatever pricy perfume they were sampling that day), to the minty, chocolaty goodness of the complimentary Frango mint handed to you at the door. Every inch of the place was Christmastized to the gills, inspiring us, filling us with Christmas cheer, and making us believe that we could do the same in our own house.
Although our Christmas’s were wonderful, they were never quite perfect, but that’s what made them so memorable. Every year my parents hosted Christmas Eve, inviting all our relatives to our house for dinner. With visions of a Marshall Fields Christmas still swirling in their heads, they would strive to fill the house with pretty decorations too. Oh, they tried, but once they were given the large, plastic, gaudy Mrs. Claus, it all kind of went downhill from there.
Thanks to Mom and her gourmet lunch club (Yep, we had a gourmet lunch club in our town. I miss the 80s!) the food was always delicious. Her desserts were legendary too! (Baked Alaska with a brownie base, peppermint ice cream, covered with a dome of toasted meringue, and served with homemade hot fudge sauce!) Yet once the guests started to arrive, there was always a mishap or two in the kitchen (because everyone wanted to mill around in the kitchen when Mom was cooking!). Dad was put in charge of the drinks and shooing everyone back to the living room. He never could tell the difference between the spiked eggnog and the one for the kids.
My younger brother liked to tell inappropriate jokes to the adults. My older brother liked to capture it on video. The family dog liked to unwrapped gifts while we were eating. That’s when my dad discovered that Grandma had wrapped one of her presents in a Kotex box. When he confronted Grandma, she feigned ignorance then giggled. That’s when we knew she had done it for laughs… which set the bar pretty high for the next year.
Thanks to my parents, our Christmas’s were absolutely perfect. After all, as Clark Griswold teaches us, chaos is the catalyst for true Christmas spirit. Perpetuating the spirit of giving, embracing the meaning of Christmas, and passing on cherished family traditions to the next generation while making new ones of our own, I believe is a very worthy endeavor. Go ahead, channel a little Clark Griswold of your own this holiday season. Your Christmas may get a little chaotic, but it will also be perfect.
Readers: How about you? Are you still determined to capture the spirit of the holidays of your youth, or have you settled into a more sedate, and perhaps less chaotic, routine? Answer the question in the comments below or just say “hi” to be entered to receive a copy of Murder at the Christmas Cookie Bake-Off.
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!
Cozy mystery author, Darci Hannah, is a native of the Midwest and currently lives in a small town in Michigan. Darci is a lifelong lover of the Great Lakes, a natural wonder that inspires many of her stories. When Darci isn’t baking for family and friends, hiking with her furry pals, Ripley and Finn, or concocting her next cozy mystery, she can be found wandering around picturesque lakeside villages with her hubby, sampling baked goods and breaking for coffee more often than she should.
Purchase links for Murder at the Christmas Cookie Bake-Off
Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781496731739