TODAY’S BREW: Spikey Eggnog! Until my liver screams for Christmas to be over!
I am a smelly person. WAIT! I don’t have an odor, I mean that I’m very scent-driven, as I’m sure most of us are. Scent is the most evocative of the senses, and Christmas is the most smelliest time of year! Being the anti-Grinch, I look forward all year long to the baking of cookies, the scent of Christmas tree lots, the cinnamon pine cones that smack you in the face at your local country store, the zing in the air before a fresh snow, the cooking turkey and steaming cocoa—I can’t wait for them. It’s why my first book was what someone once said should be scratch and sniff, and is set in the deep woods during the holidays.
Another thing I look forward to this time of year is the chaos and hilarity of the many Hutchings Family Events. My husband’s family—my family—is enormous, and constitutes approximately 75% of the world’s personality. From Uncle Mike, who wears a three piece suit around the house, to the cousins who once rolled naked in white paint all over the basement floor so they could be polar bears, there is constant entertainment. I’ve been known to live tweet these events, inclusive of photos.
Next weekend is Aunt Terri’s Annual Christmas Party. I am positively giddy, albeit some of it morbidly so. These particular events always include these things that make your mouth gape:
1. Racist comments that don’t make sense from one particular aunt.
2. At least one family member falling down.
3. Complaints about the Yankee Swap scratch tickets that did not win anything.
4. One unnamed uncle that cries if people refuse to eat his venison.
5. One anonymous plate of cookies of unknown origin that someone is bound to get sick on.
6. Same aunt from above ogling my chest until everyone squirms.
7. Heat so oppressive we all end up on the porch with beer in hand.
8. A different uncle that will show up with a new child no one knew about.
9. The kid who tries to climb into the fireplace.
10. The 3 legged dog that drools.
I have a twisted streak that finds all of this pretty funny. The best part about them is that they accept their faults and celebrate them a bit. It’s one of the things that attracted me to the Hutchings family to begin with. They are so completely themselves that you can’t help but feel at ease around them to laugh and be yourself, too.
And that’s when you start to get butterflies in your belly about visiting for the holidays, and any time, really. There’s so much comfort with my family, that it’s impossible not to wait for it. One of the first things I think of is the smells. Some are hings you don’t always associate with Christmas, but are particular to this time of year at Aunt Terri’s house. They are as follows:
1. Mingling perfumes, all of them lovely.
2. Lemon soap in the bathroom that lingers on the red sparkly handtowels.
3. Fresh coffee from mismatched mugs.
4. A slightly must scent from tons of handmade paper ornaments from tons of now-grown children.
5. Pine tree scented candles
6. Booze. All kinds of it.
7. Cold clinging to coats as you hug those coming inside.
8. Hershey kisses. Aunt Terri always makes cookies with Hershey kisses on top.
9. Electric heat turned up too high.
10. Fresh, deep, untouched woods in the backyard to stare into from the porch when escaping the heat and noise.
I hope you all have somewhere that makes you feel this way, remember things for the sake of remembering them, and makes you look forward to Christmas every year. If you don’t, be the one to start. Be the person that someone else remembers each year for the cold clinging to your coat, for the off-putting comment that makes them laugh, for the perfume that rolls off your skin. Be part of the memory that makes a person wish for Christmas all year long. Happy holidays to all of you! Remember to stop and smell the relatives.
Books of The Dead Press releases Julie Hutchings’ debut novel Running Home
Death hovers around Ellie Morgan like the friend nobody wants. She doesn’t belong in snowswept Ossipee, New Hampshire; she doesn’t belong in the frigging gift shop she works at, she doesn’t belong with people that death will always take from her, and she definitely does not belong at this black tie party with Kat. But that is where she is, and where he is. Nicholas French, the man who mystifies her with a feeling of home she’s been missing, and impossible knowledge of her troubled soul.
Nicholas followed an abomination that is one of his own, but soon finds fate has driven him to New Hampshire as more than a bystander. He reveals himself to Ellie as being of the Shinigami, a heroic vampire order that “save” their victims from more tragic ends. He knows why Ellie is human repellent, and why physical agony grips them when apart. The Shinigami are cornered into isolated human lives, plucked out when they have no one left to be created for their higher purpose. Ellie is destined to be a legendary Shinigami, and Nicholas her creator.
Nicholas and Ellie’s fates intertwine closer when his latest victim in waiting turns out to be the only person who tethers her to this world, Kat. Fate will not be ignored, and in the only real choice Ellie has made in her life, she must determine a horrifying path; let the vampire who would make her a hero wither to shreds or sacrifice the life of her closest companion.
Julie’s debut novel, Running Home, an Urban Fantasy giving you vampires with a Japanese mythology twist will be published by Books of the Dead Press July 22nd, 2013. In the meantime, the Muscle and Wildcard of the Undead Duo is working on the sequel, Running Away, and a new and fun freakshow called The Harpy. Fear not, the Egyptian sex god, The Animal, patiently awaits a second draft. Julie revels in all things Buffy, has a sick need for exotic reptiles, and drinks more coffee than Juan Valdez and his donkey combined, if that donkey is allowed to drink coffee. Julie’s a black belt with an almost inappropriate love for martial arts. And pizza. And Rob Zombie. Julie lives in Plymouth, MA, constantly awaiting thunderstorms with her wildly supportive husband and two magnificent boys.
In addition to Running Home, you can also read her stories at Elephant Press and Opening Line Magazine.