Tag Archives: holiday

~~Excerpt From “Second Helpings”~~ ~A Taste of Louisiana by Jan Linton~

Second Helpings
An Anthology of Holiday Recipes and
Short Stories
From Authors of
Second Wind Publishing

Second Helpings

A perfect gift for short story lovers and food connoisseurs!

From sweet childhood remembrances to fanciful solutions of family dramas to romantic relationships that begin–or end–during the holidays, Second Helpings is an anthology of stories and memories, but most especially of recipes. Our end-of-year celebrations are occasions that bring reunions with unforgettable feasts and that one special, treasured dish. At the end of each story, vignette, reminiscence, you’ll find a recipe or collection of recipes that will make your next holiday memorable as well.

EXCERPT AND SAMPLE RECIPE:

A Taste of Louisiana
By
Jan Linton

Louisiana. We aren’t like the rest of the world. My home state stands out in ways that make it a unique place to live. We have parishes instead of counties. We love our incorrigible politicians—Edwin Edwards, four-term former governor, current ex-con, is still one of the most beloved citizens in Louisiana. And, we adore our food.

We love to celebrate anything. Mudbugs, alligators, even those pesky mosquitoes give us a reason to “make groceries” and put on a feast-like spread. There is always a place for one (or a dozen) more at the table in Southern homes. If you’re hungry, I’ll feed you. If you’re not hungry, I’ll still feed you. If you won’t let me force-feed you, you’re not stepping out of my house without a sack full of leftovers. It’s just our way.

Some call it “Southern hospitality,” but it’s really just part of our heritage. Our mommas would slap us hard, in person or in spirit, if we didn’t make our visitors (friends, family and strangers) eat until they waddled out the door. No one leaves a true Southern home with an empty belly.

Holidays are celebrated in style. We not only have turkey and ham, we cook every possible meat we can lay our hands on. Venison and beef will be competing for space on the banquet table. We have our traditional fare, but no Louisiana holiday is complete without our seafood and beer. Crawfish, fish, crabs, shrimp; you name anything we can catch in the Gulf, we’ll have it on the holiday table.

Deserts? Oh, sweet Pierre, do we have deserts. At any holiday or family gathering, it’s normal to have at least half a dozen different cakes, cookies, pies and candy. And that doesn’t count what our guests bring.

In Louisiana, we celebrate life through our food. Holidays give us the perfect opportunity to put our culinary skills and social heritage to work. The highest compliment to a Southern cook is to see our friends and family nap after a full meal. We make our mommas proud.

Shrimp and Corn Bisque

1 tablespoon margarine or butter
¼ cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 cans cream of potato soup (10.75 oz)
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
4 ounces cream cheese
6 ounces Velveeta cheese
1 can creamed corn
1 can whole kernel corn
1 large baked potato, peeled and chopped
1 ½ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

Melt margarine or butter in large pot (Dutch oven works best). Add onions, garlic and pepper; sauté until tender. Stir in potato soup, evaporated milk, cream cheese, Velveeta cheese and both cans of corn. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. After cheese has melted, stir in baked potato chunks. Add shrimp and cook on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes until shrimp are done.

***

Second Helpings is available in print and all ebook formats from Second Wind Publishing.

 

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Story Excerpt From “Second Helpings” ~~~ Cookies Without by JJ Dare ~~~

Second Helpings
An Anthology of Holiday Recipes and
Short Stories
From Authors of
Second Wind Publishing

Second Helpings

A perfect gift for short story lovers and food connoisseurs!

From sweet childhood remembrances to fanciful solutions of family dramas to romantic relationships that begin–or end–during the holidays, Second Helpings is an anthology of stories and memories, but most especially of recipes. Our end-of-year celebrations are occasions that bring reunions with unforgettable feasts and that one special, treasured dish. At the end of each story, vignette, reminiscence, you’ll find a recipe or collection of recipes that will make your next holiday memorable as well.

EXCERPT FROM:

Cookies Without
By
JJ Dare

This would be the third Christmas without Marie’s husband. It was the second Christmas without her brother and the first without her mother. This holiday had all the markings of a celebration with ghosts as the main guests.

Three loved ones gone in three years. Marie dreaded the next year. Who would leave next?

No Paul, no Eddie, no Mom. The days were always heavy with their absence, but holidays were worse. The emptiness pressed against her soul. She was barely making it through the normal days let alone the times when her family gathered to celebrate life.
. . .

Marie pulled out cans of sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, and, from the very back of the cabinet, an expired can of very young peas. She held the can in her hands as fresh tears fell. No holiday meal had been complete without very young peas, Paul had said. There were a few holidays when he went to the store the day of the meal because Marie had forgotten to pick up a can of his favorite vegetable.

Gathering her wits, Marie set the cans on the counter and looked around. What else, what else? Something important was escaping her. What was missing?

The cookies! How could she forget the desert the family had expected the past two Christmases but Marie had been too heartbroken to make. The bon-bon cookies had been a joint effort between Marie and Paul. She would roll the cookies into balls and he would stuff them with chocolate chip pieces. It was the one of their few collaborations in cooking.

Roll and stuff. Marie could not remember when they had started the tradition, but the kids had early on nicknamed the cookies “Mom-Pop cookies.” Maybe she and Paul had started doing it to speed up the holiday dinner long ago when restless children wanted to hurry and eat so they could play with their new toys.

It did not matter now. There was no hurry anymore. There was only time stretching out ahead of her and no end in sight. She washed her hands, sat back down at the table and drifted off in thoughts of bygone holidays.

A bell dinging broke her from her reverie. As she pushed against to table to rise from her chair, she felt something strange on her hands. Buttery dough was sticking to her fingertips. Her heart raced as she looked at the metal cooking tray in front of her.

Neatly laid out were the traditional cookies she had purposely not made for the past two seasons. She picked one up with a shaking hand. Breaking the dough open, three chocolate chips nestled inside. The perfect number.

No more, no less. Paul had been adamant to the point of silliness about the number of chocolate pieces he stuffed inside each cookie. So adamant that one Christmas when they were short of money, he had meticulously removed the chips from the half he had finished and delicately sliced the pieces in half.

The hair on Marie’s neck stood on end.

***

Second Helpings is available in print and all ebook formats from Second Wind Publishing.

 

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~~ Excerpt From “Second Helpings ~~ A Taste of the World by Dellani Oakes

Second Helpings
An Anthology of Holiday Recipes and
Short Stories
From Authors of
Second Wind Publishing

Second Helpings

A perfect gift for short story lovers and food connoisseurs!

From sweet childhood remembrances to fanciful solutions of family dramas to romantic relationships that begin–or end–during the holidays, Second Helpings is an anthology of stories and memories, but most especially of recipes. Our end-of-year celebrations are occasions that bring reunions with unforgettable feasts and that one special, treasured dish. At the end of each story, vignette, reminiscence, you’ll find a recipe or collection of recipes that will make your next holiday memorable as well.

EXCERPT:

A Taste of the World
By
Dellani Oakes

When I was a child, my family lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts while my father attended Harvard. Living in the married student housing had its drawbacks, but it also gave me a first hand exposure to different cultures. Across the street, there was a family from Israel. On the corner, another from Australia. On our side, we had Scottish, German, Chinese, Indian and Japanese families. Not only were there many foreign students, there were people from all over the country. A rich blend of dialects greeted our ears whenever we went outside.

From time to time, we’d all get together for dinner. Someone brought out barbeque grills and did hot dogs and hamburgers. Every imaginable side dish you can think of would sit on long tables in the dead end street between the row houses. There was something there for everyone to enjoy, even if you were a picky eater like me.

I didn’t like a lot of foods as a child. I was persnickety and stubborn about what I would and wouldn’t eat. However, when we went to dinner at our friends’ homes, my parents encouraged me to try different things. I learned that there was a whole world of food out there I’d never encountered before. The flavors, the aromas, the vibrant colors – there was a veritable playground of food to be had. I might not learn to enjoy it all, but I certainly broadened my culinary horizons.

When I got old enough to cook, I tried my hand at many things. I loved to cook and took over that duty from my mother, who hated it. I made up my own recipes and served them for dinner. Sadly, I can’t find where I wrote them down and I can’t remember any of them well enough to share.

My father was an enthusiastic and ambitious cook. When I was in college and living at home, he prepared gourmet meals, which my mother & I enjoyed. When he died, I got his recipe cards and books and have found a lot of joy sharing those meals with my own family.

The recipes in this section reflect my love of food from all nations. They are simple, but delicious. Although only one is an authentic Italian recipe, the rest are representative of different cultures. They have a Taste of the World.

Egg Rolls

1 pound ground beef
1 package egg roll wraps
1 can green beans, drained
2 carrots, shredded
1 onion, diced
garlic power to taste
pepper
ginger
soy sauce
1T corn starch
1 tsp water
water chestnuts or bean sprouts optional

Brown beef with onion, garlic and spices. Drain. Shred carrots and chop green beans. Set aside. When beef has drained, mix with vegetables. Fill each wrapper with 2 or 3 Tablespoons of filling. Wrap by package directions and seal with the corn starch & water mixture. Egg rolls can be deep fried or brush with oil and bake 350 20 minutes. Turn once about halfway through. Serve with sweet and sour sauce or ketchup.

***

Second Helpings is available in print and all ebook formats from Second Wind Publishing.

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Story Excerpt From “Second Helpings” ~~~~ The Gift by Pat Bertram ~~~~

Second Helpings
An Anthology of Holiday Recipes and
Short Stories
From Authors of
Second Wind Publishing

Second Helpings

A perfect gift for short story lovers and food connoisseurs!

From sweet childhood remembrances to fanciful solutions of family dramas to romantic relationships that begin–or end–during the holidays, Second Helpings is an anthology of stories and memories, but most especially of recipes. Our end-of-year celebrations are occasions that bring reunions with unforgettable feasts and that one special, treasured dish. At the end of each story, vignette, reminiscence, you’ll find a recipe or collection of recipes that will make your next holiday memorable as well.

EXCERPT FROM:

The Gift
By
Pat Bertram

Monica Dryden hummed along with the Christmas carols on the radio as she pulled the chocolate chip cookies out of the oven. They were David’s favorite, and she’d baked them for him every Christmas Eve for as long as they’d been together—five years now—continuing a tradition his mother started when he was a boy.

Still humming, Monica transferred the baked goods from the cookie sheet to a plate she’d purchased for the occasion—white china with a cheerful holly border. Her family had been too poor and too indolent to do much for Christmas, so making the holidays special for David brought her extra joy.

David Hollister. Even his name seemed to promise holiday cheer.

She put the plate of cookies and a glass of milk on a tray, added a sprig of holly from the bowl in the center of the table, and bore her offerings to the living room where David watched television.

He didn’t take his eyes from the screen when she nestled against him, but he didn’t pull away either, as he sometimes did. She smiled to herself, thinking how pleased he would be with the burgundy sweater and pinstriped shirt she’d bought him.

“Do you have to do that?” David asked.

“Do what?”

“You’re humming.”

She clapped a hand to her mouth. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize—”

“Are those chocolate chip cookies?”

“Of course.”

He clicked off the television and turned to face her. “We have to talk.” He spoke the words softly, almost kindly, but still they chilled her.

“Talk about what?” she asked warily.

“It’s not working out.”

“What’s not working out?”

“Us. We’re not right for each other. You’re too . . . predictable.”

She stared at him as if he’d spoken in an alien tongue. “Predictable? Me? You’re the one who insists on my doing the same things the same way. Remember those throw pillows I bought? You said—”

“That’s the old me. The new me wants . . . change.”

Her head snapped back as if she’d been hit. David wanted change? Since when? She opened her mouth and said the only thing that came to her stupefied mind. “Do you want me to make you a different kind of cookie?”

“This isn’t about cookies. It’s about . . .” He looked at her, expecting her to supply the words as she often did. She usually knew what he was thinking and could easily fill in his missing words, but now she couldn’t even hazard a guess.

David’s eyes shifted from side to side as if he were searching frantically for a way out of the conversation. Finally his gaze settled on his hands. “I want a divorce.”

Monica froze, then, getting control of herself, she pulled her shoulders back and lifted her chin. “You can’t have a divorce.”

He jumped to his feet and all but screamed, “I knew you’d be difficult about this. Why can’t I have a divorce?”

“We’re not married,” Monica said evenly.

He gaped at her for a moment, then a grin that broke her heart spread across his face. “That’s right. I forgot.”

Monica slumped forward, elbows on knees, head in her hands. He forgot? How was that possible? Just last week they’d talked about getting married. No . . . wait. She’d talked about getting married. He’d nodded with a faraway look in his eyes that made her think he’d been seeing their future together but apparently only meant he hadn’t been listening.

David’s voice seemed to come from a long way off. “I’ll guess I’ll be leaving.”

Monica jerked upright. “You’re leaving? But this is your apartment.” And then, all in an instant, she understood. “Who is she?”

***

Second Helpings is available in print and all ebook formats from Second Wind Publishing.

 

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Story Excerpt From “Second Helpings” ~~~~ Unopened by Marie James ~~~~

Second Helpings
An Anthology of Holiday Recipes and
Short Stories
From Authors of
Second Wind Publishing

Second Helpings

A perfect gift for short story lovers and food connoisseurs!

From sweet childhood remembrances to fanciful solutions of family dramas to romantic relationships that begin–or end–during the holidays, Second Helpings is an anthology of stories and memories, but most especially of recipes. Our end-of-year celebrations are occasions that bring reunions with unforgettable feasts and that one special, treasured dish. At the end of each story, vignette, reminiscence, you’ll find a recipe or collection of recipes that will make your next holiday memorable as well.

EXCERPT FROM:

Unopened
By
Marie James

“Are you a gambling man?”

Josiah thought the voice was coming from his own head. In the midst of the department store’s holiday bedlam, words echoed and bounced like sound at a Super Bowl game. Mothers and fathers shouted to be heard. Children screamed like banshees as they ran unchecked through the crowds of last-minute holiday shoppers. Store clerks looked like prisoners serving out the last few hours of their Christmas sentences.

“Don’t take a chance, son,” the same voice seemed to whisper in Josiah’s ear. He turned and was almost nose-to-nose with an older gentleman. Grey-haired and bespectacled, the old guy met Josiah’s stare with a twinkle in his eye.

Nah. The twinkle was a reflection of the winking lights strung throughout the store. The old guy’s expression was serious as he admonished Josiah.

“Excuse me?” Josiah snapped a little more forcefully than he meant. His nerves were worn from the late gift buying. Every year it was the same, though: Janine bought Christmas gifts starting the week after the holiday while Josiah waited until the week—or usually the day—before.

Janine took care of the gifts, the cooking, the decorating and everything else associated with yuletide. The only thing she asked of Josiah was not to have to buy her own Christmas present. She was already responsible for her own birthday and anniversary gifts. She put her foot down years ago about being her own Santa Claus.

“That’s the worst perfume in the world,” the old guy said. “I used to buy it for my wife, but I didn’t know she hated it until after she died and I found over four dozen bottles in a box in the basement.”

A look of sadness crossed the old man’s face. “Look in your basement, son. I bet you’ll find a box of the ‘unopened’ in a dark corner.” He patted Josiah on the shoulder as he continued. “Find out what’s in her heart, son. Don’t let your holidays die like I did.”

With that, the old man turned away and was lost in the crowd. Josiah pushed his way to the counter as an opening appeared in front of him. With a frozen smile on her face, the cashier rang up his purchase. As he backed away from the counter, the crowd surged forward to fill in the empty space he’d left.

Josiah fought his way out of the store. On the bustling sidewalk, he watched as harried men and anxious women hurried from store to store in search of gifts to appease their conscience.

Why in the world did that thought cross his mind? Josiah had always been a good provider and a considerate husband. His wife and children wanted for nothing. He worked so they could have a comfortable life. Why did he suddenly feel guilty?

***

Second Helpings is available in print and all ebook formats from Second Wind Publishing.

 

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Story Excerpt From “Second Helpings” Holiday Wedding by Lazarus Barnhill

Second Helpings
An Anthology of Holiday Recipes and
Short Stories
From Authors of
Second Wind Publishing

Second Helpings

A perfect gift for short story lovers and food connoisseurs!

From sweet childhood remembrances to fanciful solutions of family dramas to romantic relationships that begin–or end–during the holidays, Second Helpings is an anthology of stories and memories, but most especially of recipes. Our end-of-year celebrations are occasions that bring reunions with unforgettable feasts and that one special, treasured dish. At the end of each story, vignette, reminiscence, you’ll find a recipe or collection of recipes that will make your next holiday memorable as well.

EXCERPT FROM:

Holiday Wedding
By
Lazarus Barnhill

It seemed to Richmond that, for a joyful occasion, the parson was too serious. Despite the pinched and put-upon expression he wore, however, the preacher was at least doing the job right.

“. . . and do you, Mary Ester Blank, take Jeremiah Freeman to be your husband, to have and hold, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health . . .”

In the midst of the minister’s droning, it occurred to Richmond that he could’ve cleaned out a bank twice in the time it took to get married once. He made certain, however, that his countenance bore no expression but a happy smile. At the length the religious prescriptions seemed to be coming to an end.

“. . . I pronounce that they are husband and wife together, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Those whom God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

The parson closed the little black book in this hand, the slightest bit of relief in his expression, and gazed at the lovely young couple before him, who returned his look with delighted anticipation. Richmond leaned close to the preacher’s ear and uttered a single word.

“Oh, my, of course,” the parson said. “How could I forget that? You may kiss the bride.”

As Jeremiah leaned forward to embrace his new wife, the two dozen people in Louisa Booe’s living room erupted with shouts and laughter. An irresistible smile on his face, Richmond stood for a time in silence watching the celebration: children and adults embracing one another, tears flowing, laughter rolling through them in waves.

The preacher drew close to him and said something. Richmond had to lean down to hear what he was saying.

“Are you through with me, then?”

“Sure, Parson. Let’s go out on the front porch.”

Outside in the descending twilight, it was much quieter.

“Well, Brother Meade, I’m pleased you changed your mind and agreed to delay your own Thanksgiving supper so you could come out to my mother’s and do this wedding.”

The minister glanced anxiously at the pistol Richmond had not taken off his hip—even for the ceremony. “To be completely honest, Mr. Booe, in a shotgun wedding it usually not the preacher who’s got a gun pointed at him.”

***

Second Helpings is available in print and all ebook formats from Second Wind Publishing.

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Remember what the weekend is really for

The lilacs are blooming here in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  I can smell them when I walk out my front door.

The honey bees are buzzing, which is a good thing since we just recently got our hive placed.

The grass is a little long, even though I just push mowed the two-plus acres less than a week ago.

My youngest daughter and her friends are laughing as they discuss clothing options for their commencement ceremony which will take place Sunday.

I’m stressed.  There is so much to do this weekend and just not enough time to do it all.  I’d have to be a superhero to make it all happen.

That’s when it hits me.  The long weekend that we’re getting ready to celebrate in the United States is about more than the unofficial start of the summer.  It’s about more than graduations and grilling burgers.  It’s not even about the Indy 500.

It’s all about freedom.

Memorial Day started as a time to remember the soldiers of the Civil War, now it’s a time to remember those men and women who’ve died serving our country whenever and where ever.  It’s a time many people choose to remember their loved ones who have died, even if they weren’t veterans.

I know for a fact that being in the military is tough work.  Even in a time of peace.  There is still separation from family members.  There is still long hours preparing for the worst.  There is still the stress of job.

Being in the military is tough.  I know.  I served.  My husband served.  We’ve both missed various birthdays and holidays as our girls were growing up.  Heck, my dad had to miss family events when I was a kid and he was never in the military.  He was a cop.

There are a lot of similarities between law enforcement and military service.  Both professions give up some of their own rights to ensure society gets to keep theirs.  Both professions often have to put duty above family, even when they really don’t want to.

One of my favorite quotes about the military is by Father Dennis Edward O’Brian, USMC:

It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the organizer, Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protestor to burn the flag.

The freedoms we have in the United States shouldn’t be taken lightly.  They should be remembered, not just during a three-day weekend, or when the calendar says it’s the right time.  They are something we should appreciate each and every day.

Take some time this Memorial Day weekend to thank someone who has sacrificed to serve.   You’ll make their day.  You just might make yours, too.

Blessings!

Nichole

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Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

How are you? How about the elves, the reindeer, and Mrs. Claus? I hope everyone had a great year. I was a very good girl this year.

I didn’t ground the children for life. Yes, I know I threatened to. Maybe that was bad? But I didn’t do it.

I showed my husband I loved him. Okay, so he sometimes doesn’t listen, and his side of the closet is still a mess. Oh, and the car still makes that funny noise when I brake, but that’s okay, I still hugged and kissed him every day. Even when he really made me mad and even when the kisses were done while he was sleeping since I wasn’t talking to him.

I was a good girl at work, too. I didn’t fire anybody all year. Well, except that one girl, but she really deserved it. Oh, and there was that guy too, but he had been warned.

So, for the most part, I’ve been a very good girl this year. You didn’t see that little altercation at the grocery store did you? That was totally not my fault. She cut in line. Someone had to put her in her place. Besides, she only got stitches. It could have been much worse. By the way, when you get my sister’s letter, don’t believe it. I wasn’t nearly as mean as she says.

Okay, so maybe I wasn’t the best girl all year, but for most of the…

Who am I kidding? Just take whatever I could have gotten and donate it to a good charity. I’ll take my lump of coal. I’ve been meaning to light a fire under someone anyway.

Love,

Claire Collins

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The Whys and Wherefores of Pagan Practices and Holidays

In times past when people lived much more closely connected to the earth and nature itself; the changing of the seasons and the cycles of the moon held a profound place in religious practices and beliefs. The nature of all that is was more readily reflected to us by our surroundings. The balance and evidence of life, existence and nature as a great ever renewing circle was palpable.

Today we live in a never ending throng of bustle and noise, activity and people everywhere. There never seems to be any time or space. There are even some people who forget what it feels like to feel the sun on their face, or smell the verdant scent of green things growing in the wild under the silvery light of a full moon.

There are three kinds of pagan holidays the Solstices and Equinoxes which mark the turning points of the astronomical year, Sabbats which are solar rituals and Esbatts which are moon rituals; the sun representing The God or the sacred masculine and the moon representing The Goddess or the sacred feminine.

In paganism it is believed that divinity and nature and all that exists within nature are one. This means that people, animals, rocks, plants and the elements all have a piece of divinity within. All that is possesses soul and thus all of nature is sacred and should be treated with love, care and respect. When we look around us, what we see is the divine, the God and Goddess reflected back at us by all that is.

There are twenty one days of power in the pagan calendar, or more simply put twenty one holidays. Many of these are still around in a more secular fashion today; May Day, Thanksgiving, Ground Hog Day, Yule and even Halloween to name a few all correlate back to the earliest pagan traditions.

Eventually, I will happily continue blogging about each in turn, but given the season I think I will start with Samhain (pronounced sah-wain), which is better known as All Hallows Eve, November Eve, Feast of the Dead, Feast of Apples or … Halloween.

This once marked the time of sacrifice (not human I promise ;). In many places this was the time animals were slaughtered to ensure food throughout the deep of the long cold winter. It is a time to look back over the past year, to reflect, to remember those who have passed through the veil before us and try to learn to come to terms with and acknowledge the one thing in life we can never control, death. On this day/night the veil between the physical and spiritual realms is thinner. Some believe that spirits walk the earth on this day/night and this is where you get costumes and trick or treat from. You see it was once (and for some still is) believed that by leaving milk and sweet foods outside your dwelling, dressing up in terrifying costumes and building great bonfires you can scare away evil spirits and other nasties that might have more sway on this day/night than on any other.

And now you know the why of Samhain/Halloween.

As my husband loves to quote …

“And knowing is half the battle, go Joe!” 😉

Crimson M. Kildare

Second Wind Author

Octagon Dreams

Book I: Chronicles of the Realm Strider

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