Kathleen Delaney, author of Murder Half-Baked and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. She’s here today to talk about what the holidays have meant to her in the past and today.
Purebred Dead, the first in the new Mary McGill series, was released in August 2015 and Curtains for Miss Plym was released in April 2016. Blood Red, White and Blue was released in July 2017 and was a finalist for best canine book of the year in the Dog Writers of America annual writing contest. Kathleen’s newest book in the series, Dressed to Kill, was released in the UK on August 1, 2019 and in the US on November 1, 2019.
Thanksgiving is upon us once more and Christmas is waiting impatiently in the wings. This will be my 83rd holiday season and I find myself reflecting on holidays past and comparing them with those we celebrate today.
Things have changed. Personally, our holidays have gotten smaller, meaning fewer people. That is, of course, to be expected. Children grow up and establish their own family traditions, grandmothers and grandfathers are no longer with us, others move out of easy traveling distance so this year there will only be 5 of us around the Thanksgiving table and hopefully 7 around the Christmas tree. Time was when Thanksgiving meant a gathering of 20 – 30. One year, when I think we only had 16, we also had 9 dogs. That was an interesting year. I think that was the year we stopped up the garbage disposal and had several of the guys on the roof, trying to unstop it.
Christmas, when my 5 kids were little, meant midnight Mass, then the morning was free to focus on the presents Santa had left. They were always the good ones. Bikes, skates, wagons, a Chatty Cathy doll, good stuff. The ones Mom and Dad gave ran to books, underwear, slippers and brownie or cub scout socks with maybe a Barbie or a GI Joe. But they were star studded mornings that have left me with a lot of wonderful memories. In the afternoon the grandparents arrived, and we did it all over then sat down to a huge dinner.
It seems now the day isn’t a success unless you have enough stuff under the tree that it takes two days to open it all.
The years have brought other kinds of changes besides the ones at my house. It seems that Thanksgiving is now almost a forgotten holiday. It’s just a jumping off point for the start of Christmas shopping. Stores are even open Thanksgiving Day, so you won’t miss a bargain and Friday is a mad house. The stores have all been decorated for Christmas since before Halloween. Personally, the only purchase I make the day after Thanksgiving is poinsettias for a dollar at Home Depot. I go early and get home before the crowds overwhelm me. Most of my shopping will be done online. When my kids were little, online meant something you dried your clothes on.
Change can be good, though. I can still remember the pile of dishes at the end of the day. No dishwasher then, only me and whoever I could corral into helping me. Mostly my mother and mother-in-law. I give thanks every year for the dishwasher. I no longer have a double oven but during the years we had huge crowds it did double duty. Now we have gas barbeques that can grill the turkey and other things and they are a blessing indeed. But my favorite new thing is the cell phone. Used to be, if you were apart for the holidays, a card had to suffice. Not now. Thanksgiving Day and Christmas day the phones will be out and the camera’s on. We will share everything across the country except the turkey.
One last thing. Thanksgiving and Christmas are special days of joy and love, family and friends, giving and being thankful for the many blessings we have. That will never change.
For our family, neither will the number of dogs that will celebrate with us. Only 4 for Thanksgiving, but probably 6 for Christmas. I know it doesn’t come out even, but don’t worry. The person left over with no dog will get the cat.
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that the turkey turned out perfect. Christmas, here we come.
Before I forget. Books are the perfect Christmas present. So if you have someone who likes dogs, small towns and a great puzzle to solve, please consider the Mary McGill canine mysteries. You just might find one of the dogs who will be around my Christmas tree lurking in the pages.