Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays to All from all of us at Mystery Lovers Kitchen!

Sparky's first Christmas, last year!
Lighting the candles.
Little ones need help.

This is one of those years when Christmas and Hannukah coincide. 

The 12 days of Christmas; the 8 days of Hannukah.

This year, during this festive season, we thought we might ask ourselves, and you our fans, what are some of the old traditions you cherish or what are some of the new ones you want to try?

Daryl: I love a Christmas tree. I can't do without a real one. I thought about doing a fake one, this year, lights included. Just put it together, plug it in, and poof, on go the lights. Brilliant.  But I couldn't talk myself into it. I love the smell of a real tree. I love (kid you not) cleaning up the fallen pine needles with the vacuum. It makes the vacuum smell so good!  I love going through the lights and finding out which ones work and which ones don't. I love having to find the best "face" of the real tree, twisting and turning it until it is the right shape whenever we walk into the room. Nope, I'll never do without a real tree. Now, it might get smaller over the years. I can't carry the same sized tree I could ten years ago. But it will always be real and always need water.  As for ornaments, yes, of course, they could go on a real or fake tree. That really is the most fun about decorating. All the memories that go with each and every ornament. I turn on the mushy Christmas music and I get teary. Year after year. 

Sheila: Always the Christmas tree (yes, real, Daryl)! After setting it up, a day or two later you can
smell it throughout the whole house. And since our current house is the first to have really high ceilings, we do indulge in an eight-foot tree. My sister and I split our mother's ornaments years ago, so every time we decorate our tree, it's a trip down memory lane. We need that big tree to hold all the ornaments, new and old alike, and even then each year we have to make hard decisions about which ones are gong to have to sit out for a year.

I have a history of, uh, appropriating Christmas trees. When I was in third grade, I volunteered to bring one for the class, without consulting any adults. We lived quite a way from the school, and they didn't bus, so the school contracted with a local cab company to transport me and a couple of other people. Needless to say, Frank, our regular driver, was not happy to see me lugging a four-foot Christmas tree that simply had to go in the cab. But we made it. (The second incident was at college, and I still feel I should send them a check to plant a tree.)

LUCY BURDETTE: I can't do without the Christmas Eve church service of lessons and carols. Preferably with a gorgeous solo rendition of O HOLY NIGHT.

Since we've been spending winter in Key West, a lot of our traditions have had to change. Instead of snow and white lights, we attend the lighted boat parade, and the Conch train tour of lights around town, and the hometown holiday parade. It's been a lot of fun really, and makes me miss Christmas in Connecticut a little less. This is me in the parade this year with one of the "three kings." Merry Christmas to all of you lovely readers!

We are all Christmas-lovers around here, even the pooches, although they wouldn't mind ditching the hats.  Unless, of course, that's a treat in your hand.   It is possible that we're the tiniest bit silly.

The aroma of the turkey and stuffing, the lovely sounds of carols, the crunch of candy canes and the glow of the tree, we enjoy it all. Even those crisp blue nights, seen from the warmth of the house.

This year we are trying to dial it back a bit so that we enjoy the company more and worry about details less.  We hope your Christmas is full of love, laughter and lots of wonderful books and fabulous food.  

 Enjoy every minute of whatever your celebration is!  But we hope you take time to read. We will. 

Aunt Mary
Cleo Coyle My mother, Rose, and her older sister were born in Italy, and they brought many traditions with them. Aunt Mary lived with us, which was one of those old traditions (extended families living under one roof). 

I loved my Aunt Mary with all my heart. She helped raise me and always believed in me. Her encouragement is one of the reasons I'm a writer today. As for the holidays, they were always incredibly busy with friends and family dropping by at all hours. That's why the "good" tablecloth was always on our dining room table from early in the mornings till late in the evenings, along with plates of cookies and trays of delicious liqueurs (more on that below). 
The Italian cookies were (of course!) homemade. The baking started right after Thanksgiving. 
I remember helping Aunt Mary roll out dough in our chilly, unfinished basement, where we had a second kitchen. So many amazing foods came out of there: homemade pastas, gnocchi, wedding soup, and brasciola. All of those years of cooking with her continue to inspire me today.

And (shhh) my father even distilled his own brandy and whiskey down there, quite illegal, but he shared it with our neighbors, who had no desire to rat him out (the payoff was too delicious). 

I continue to make the foods my aunt taught me, and celebrate, with love in my heart, all the years we spent together cooking and baking side-by-side. God bless you all this Christmas Day. May you always cook with love and eat with joy! ~ Cleo

Krista Davis

A few years ago, I was on a panel of authors who had written Christmas mysteries. One of the questions the moderator planned to ask was what our family traditions were on Christmas Day. Oh no! 

My family has always followed the German tradition of celebrating on Christmas Eve. We have a big dinner, and everyone receives a little gift at the table. I think that tradition started when I was very small and couldn't sit still knowing that Santa had already left presents in the 

living room! Sometimes the "table gifts" are gag gifts and sometimes they're something very special. There's usually at least one that's good for a laugh. After dinner, we open our gifts. So when you're getting up early on Christmas Day, we're sleeping in. Later on we feast on leftovers.

So back to the panel – well, don't you know that three of the four mystery authors on that panel had German or Scandinavian backgrounds and had their big celebration on Christmas Eve, just like me!

Our Christmas traditions have changed over the years, but I'm a little bit of a Christmas diva. I love the lights, and the Christmas Villages, and pine swags everywhere. This is the first year that Sunny hasn't tried to climb the tree. I'm still a little bit leery, though. Next year, I'll dare to bring out more of the old treasured ornaments again!

No matter what you and your loved ones are celebrating, 
we at Mystery Lovers Kitchen would like to wish you a merry, happy season!

Enjoy the day and the season doing all the things you enjoy. Giving, receiving, believing!!
Baking, reading.


  1. What nice memories! Merry Christmas, Ladies. I have not taken time to comment often enough, but I will try to check in more often. I hope you all have a great 2015!

  2. How nice of you to comment today, Tonette! I hope you'll pipe up more often. We love to hear from our readers. Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year!

  3. I enjoyed reading such great memories. Happy Holidays to all of you wonderful ladies.

  4. Happiest of Holidays to everyone. We're all full of yummy food, treats & company, and it's 11:35 p.m. now, so snoozing and watching movies. I baked and cooked with my lil helpers for 3 or 4 days, so break time now for me! xxx ooo

  5. Lovely memories and traditions.
    Thank you all

  6. I MUST have a real tree as well, but, since it's just me getting it home and up, it's generally a smaller tree. No ornaments this year, as it was kitten Mariusz's first Christmas, but I did put lights on and think it's lovely.