Welcome to my 12 Days of Christmas Guests! Each day I visit with another author who will share a special holiday memory with us. Leave your holiday comments below and you could win an eBook copy of the author's book (worldwide eligibility). And a lucky winner will receive a package from ME with some books off my shelf. (U.S. guests only, thank you.)
Today's guest is 5 Prince Publishing's Denise Moncrief. Denise's book Crisis of Identity releases in early 2013. Please Welcome Denise Moncrief.
Christmas Without Fruitcake
When I still lived in my Daddy’s house, I would wake up on Christmas morn to the smell of his cornbread dressing baking in the oven. Not that pasty white bread stuffing some people like, but honest to goodness cornbread dressing. He had to bake a pone of cornbread and boil a whole hen. That takes time, so he would rise very early on Christmas Day to get it ready to put in the oven so it could bake while we had our gift exchange.
The mixed aroma of chicken and green onions and sage always tickled my nose as I jumped from bed and raced down the hallway to see what was under the tree. Then, when I married, that smell was the first thing that hit my senses when I entered his house on Christmas. The aroma of dressing baking had been the backdrop of my Christmas experience for forty-nine years…until I lost him.
When Daddy passed away in October three years ago, we didn’t even attempt to make dressing for our Christmas get together. That was a hard Christmas. No one was in the mood to be jolly. Joy was difficult to come by. We had lost my father-in-law two years before, and the two empty seats at the table weighed heavy on our hearts.
Daddy always prepared us a feast for Christmas. Turkey. Sometimes ham. Dressing with chicken pieces. Potatoes au gratin or sweet potato casserole. Pistolettes. Fruit salad. Apple cider. Sometimes eggnog. Boxed chocolates, preferably a Whitman’s Sampler. There had to be at least one other vegetable dish, because Daddy believed setting an abundant table was an indication of prosperity. He had survived the Great Depression and never wanted to appear poor again. Momma was relegated to helper in the kitchen, of course, because her specialty was the pumpkin and pecan pies she prepared a few days in advance. That left her free to be his assistant for the day.
We try to replicate his hospitality, but our attempts fall short. My cornbread dressing doesn’t taste like his. My mother’s even less so. (She has an over fondness for sage that makes the dressing appear sort of…green.)
But as much as cornbread dressing has always defined Christmas for me, the season just hasn’t been complete without our annual fruitcake baking day. After I married and moved out of his house, Daddy and I would get together about a month before Christmas and bake two fruitcakes—one for his house and one for mine. I know some people detest fruitcake, but I kind of find it…edible. Not awful. Not delicious. Just…edible.
I still don’t know why we needed that much fruitcake since we always shared the day together and there were at the most only nine of us at the table. That left a lot of leftover fruitcake. By New Year’s Day, I was usually ready to throw the stale crumbling remains of my cake out. Sometimes that was as much as half the cake! So why do I miss the blasted things so much? I baked the cakes with him because it brought a bit of joy to the season to share the experience. It was our tradition. I miss that. I miss him.
Christmas hasn’t been the same without fruitcake.
I brought the subject up with my daughter the other day. She wasn’t the least inclined to bake a fruitcake. Not at all. Turned up her pretty nose at the idea. I wanted a Christmas tradition to share with her. She reminded me that last year we baked cookies for two days one weekend before Christmas. I nodded. I think we’ll start a tradition of our own. This next weekend, we’ll share our second annual bake-cookies-til-you-drop weekend. That will bring joy to my heart. Not that I need that many cookies. I just need a new tradition.
And this Christmas? We all agreed to do something nontraditional. Dishes not usually associated with Christmas. Like…Shrimp gumbo or Crawfish fettuccine Yeah, I’m looking forward to Christmas this year for the first time in three years. I think I can handle Christmas without fruitcake as long as I can keep my memories of sharing the season’s traditions with Daddy.
Denise wrote her first story when she was in high school—seventeen hand-written pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last romance novel she read. She earned a degree in accounting, giving her some nice skills to earn a little money, but her passion has always been writing. She has written numerous short stories and more than a few full-length novels. Her favorite pastimes when she’s not writing are spending time with her family, traveling, reading, and scrapbooking. She lives in Louisiana with her husband, two children, and one very chubby dog.
Denise's upcoming Release Crisis of Identity-early 2013
Tess Copeland is an operator. Her motto? Necessity is the mother of a good a con. When Hurricane Irving slams into the Texas Gulf coast, Tess seizes the opportunity to escape her past by hijacking a dead woman’s life, but Shelby Coleman’s was the wrong identity to steal. And the cop that trails her? He’s a U.S. Marshall with the Fugitive Task Force for the northern district of Illinois. Tess left Chicago because the criminal justice system gave her no choice. Now she’s on the run from ghosts of misdeeds past—both hers and Shelby’s.
Enter Trevor Smith, a pseudo-cowboy from Houston, Texas, with good looks, a quick tongue, and testosterone poisoning. Will Tess succumb to his questionable charms and become his damsel in distress? She doesn’t have to faint at his feet—she’s capable of handling just about anything. But will she choose to let Trevor be the man? When Tess kidnaps her niece, her life changes. She must make some hard decisions. Does she trust the lawman that promises her redemption, or does she trust the cowboy that promises her nothing but himself?
Enter to win! Leave your comments below, your special memories of the holidays! We will pick 2 winners for today. One will receive Denise's eBook when it launches and the other (U.S. only-shipping costs and all...you understand) will receive a care package of books from Bernadette Marie.