Mystery Author: Strong Women, Great Stories

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I write three series: The Loser Mysteries, The Dead Detective Mysteries & the Simon & Elizabeth (Tudor) Mysteries as well as stand-alones that offer readers "Strong Women, Great Stories."
These days I also answer to Maggie Pill, who writes a cozy sleuth series. Maggie is a lot like Peg, just younger, cooler, and funnier.

30 Days of Christmas-DAY FOUR

Barb's Christmas Memories





I remember Christmas. We always went to our grandparents’ house for dinner. The times I remember best were when Faye and I were around eight and nine. Our cousins were all boys, and they lived in faraway Muskegon, so we seldom saw them. They were rough-and-tumble types, and I never enjoyed their company much, though Faye was always willing to play Monkey in the Middle or King of the Hill with them.



Dad and Uncle Marv, the sons-in-law, sat in the living room, smoking and swapping stories with Grandpa Lemmon. Mom, Aunt Marilyn, and Grandma worked together in the kitchen, each preparing her signature dishes. Grandma cooked the turkey, filling it with spicy stuffing and making delicious gravy from the drippings. Mom liked to do the salads, and I would help her clean and slice vegetables for tossed salad, pasta salad, potato salad, broccoli salad, and fruit salad. Aunt Mar was the side dish expert, and she’d bring a squash to roast, her famous brown-sugar beans, and some new recipe she’d gotten from her recipe-card club.



I remember bits and pieces of the men's conversations, mostly about agriculture or the hunting season just completed. The women talked of their children and the small irritations of mice in the house and stains on the linen tablecloth. Mom encouraged me to join in, but I preferred to listen, peering into the world of adults. I could never see my future as one of them, cooking for a dozen people and chatting about curtains.



Did I despise their small-town lives and homey talk? Never. I loved feeling part of those dinners, though I knew even then it was not be the life for me. I didn’t feel they were wrong. I was the one who was different, because I didn’t long for a kitchen to cook in or children to tend. Still, I loved watching them. They knew who they were. They knew what they were. Christmas was my chance to observe, though it often felt as if I were watching an alien species.

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