WELCOME to my PARTY!!!
The month of November is a special time for me:
my second novel, sequel to
and second in the unsavory heritage series,
will be available 30 November on Amazon
(DOUBLE) BONUS READING BIT—THANKSGIVING
She thought back to the last Thanksgiving with her momma, and to her first Thanksgiving as a momma. Tomorrow would be a whirlwind, family—Heath’s family—boisterous laughter and merriment.
She wouldn’t be expected to cook or bring anything, although she always picked up a tray of cookies from Duquesne Boulangerie. Maybe she’d order some extra macarons for Christmas this year. That quaint little bakery in Virginia made the best she’d ever tasted, and the peppermint ones at Christmas were especially delightful.
Now, Marni stepped back inside and refilled her wine, went to finish packing; Heath would be home in an hour, ready to leave.
The big family meals took her back to when she was a girl, with momma’s family in Baltimore, cousins and aunts and uncles. All that ended, though, when…
No, she wouldn’t think about it, wouldn’t let the past encroach on the present. Wouldn’t let her Connie’s absence, even, put a damper on her already limp emotions, her fragile heart.
Marni tilted her head and put on a happy face, her polished face—her practiced face—and embraced her mother-in-law. Wine and gossip were flowing in the kitchen as her sisters-in-law put finishing touches on their various dishes; Marni set her platter of cookies on the sideboard with the pies and cakes.
The turkey was perfect, golden brown, the scent of sage and onion wafting on the air. The table was laden with green beans and corn and squash casseroles, mashed potatoes and 0baked macaroni and candies yams, tossed green salad and Jello salad and broccoli salad, and homemade yeast rolls. Wine was flowing and there was fruit punch for the kids. Not so unlike a table she remembered…
Eight months pregnant, and as the hired help, Marni was serving the dinner. At least it was just Mr. and Mrs. Bales and their daughter, her charge, Molly. Marni had been hired as their nanny; when they discovered her cooking skills, Mr. Bales increased her wage to prepare and serve their meals as well.
Marni nestled the platter at the end of the table, near Mr. Bales. Mrs. Bales, Carlotta, insisted that Marni join them for dinner. They had no family coming in; they would all be here for dinner on Christmas Eve. And Marni had no family.
The crisp white linen tablecloth, the golden placemats and napkins. Crystal water goblets and wine goblets, fine bone china, and sterling silver flatware.
Mr. Bales emptied his snifter of the last of his brandy and picked up the carving knife. Marni felt awkward sitting at the family table but Carlotta had insisted; she fought the urge to get up and serve rather than let the dishes be passed around.
Marni had cooked the feast, prepared for days; rarely did she get to enjoy it as she did this day. Most days the family ate in the formal dining room and she ate after in the dinette area off the kitchen, or in the tiny kitchen in her quarters.
After a glass of wine—Carlotta had also insisted—Marni relaxed some, and enjoyed the meal. They shared coffee and pumpkin pie, and family stories around the fireplace, and Marni tucked a sleepy six-year-old into bed before turning in herself.
Now, Marni looked around the formal dining room of the Barclay family, her in-laws. She took in the laughter and family stories, some new, some retold and rehashed. Her heart smiled and she felt thankful to be part of such a warm family. Her misty memories faded, occluded by what was before her now, this moment. She closed her eyes and smiled.
Noise swirled around like the winds howling outside. The family was no less boisterous than any other year, never mind her mother was gone. And just these recent weeks. How could Connie carry on like nothing had changed? Like Momma was upstairs for a nap and would be down any minute? Clara Bess stepped out on the back porch, the promise of snow whipping her hair across her face. She was as empty as her coffee mug.
Inside, Connie had a monstrous turkey roasting, oozing with walnuts and cranberry stuffing. Corn, harvested just weeks ago, was simmering on the stove. Macaroni, laden with cheddar cheese, was bubbling in the oven. Sallie and Nancy Sue and Caroline were tossing salads and mixing cornbread. Sue Ellen was kneading dough for the dinner rolls. Sandy and April and Lexie were setting the table while the younger cousins were watching the parade on TV.
“Heya, it’s cold out here.” Connie offered a fresh cup of coffee. “Why don’t you come back inside.”
“Oh, Con, I just miss her so much.” Clara Bess leaned into her sister.
“I know, I do too.” Connie dusted snow from an empty wooden chair. They sat in silence.
Dinner was the usual clamor, everyone talking at once, memories and new anecdotes competing to be heard. Clara Bess heard it all—and heard nothing. Nothing but a cacophony of noise.
Later, in front of the fire, silence reigned. Clara Bess thought back to her first Thanksgiving as a mother. Before she married Roger, before she knew Roger, even. At eight months pregnant, Clara Bess was at home for the holiday weekend; she had returned to the McLaughlin campus for fall semester. Connie and Sallie were married, preparing their contributions to the meal in their own homes. Blythe was a career woman, cohabiting with Hector, and would be joining the family on Thanksgiving Eve. Clara Bess waddled around the familiar generous country kitchen, working her magic, bringing her baked creations to life. She had made the pound cake and the pies already, the dinner rolls and, of course, her pumpkin macarons.
The clamor of family and love mingled now in her ears as it had those years ago. Celia—the unborn babe those years ago—sidled up to her now.
“Whatcha thinking about?”
“Just remembering Thanksgiving the year you were born.” She tipped her head and tugged at her lip. “Not so unlike the commotion now.”
“It’s family. It’s what holidays are for.” Celi tipped her head, as her mother had done, tugged at her own lip. “That’s what you always said.”
Clara Bess lifted her chin in a demi-nod.
“What a bounty we have.”
“So much to be thankful for.”
“I love you, Momma.” Celia hugged Clara Bess in a great bear hug. “Happy Thanksgiving.”
And to my readers who have taken time from your Thanksgiving celebration, whatever that might be, wherever you are—and my friends not in our country—I bid you a most joyous Thanksgiving with every blessing. Thank you for being my readers and blog-followers. It is for you I write.
Please leave me a comment, let me know you’re here!
“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!
Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013. Meanwhile, she cranked out a few dozen poems, and made countless notes for story ideas. Ms. Mason lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; she didn’t want to be who she was and struggled with her own identity for many years. Her characters face many of these same demons.
Ms. Mason has lived in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1988. She lived in Colorado for sixteen years, during which time she: went to high school, got married, had babies, got divorced and went to college. Her “babies” are now grown, two have babies of their own. She currently lives alone, with her five cats.
Ms. Mason writes Christian-worldview–in other words, there’s no salvation message, but there are plenty of characters who know the Lord and share His perspective with those who are struggling.
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