Oh, good glory in the morning! How did it get to be the middle of December so quickly?

Between holding court five days a week—too many miscreants celebrating early with too much booze, not to mention all those holiday shoppers who use their 5-finger discounts instead of cash or credit cards—I’ll have to skip lunch the rest of the week if I’m going to get gifts for everyone.

Although I have eleven older brothers, we draw names and I was lucky enough to draw one of my favorite sisters-in-law. I even have the perfect under-$25 gift for her, too: a piece of Jugtown pottery I bought the last time I was in Seagrove. I’m not supposed to gift anyone whose name I didn’t draw, but I always find funny cards to zing the nieces and nephews and slide an appropriate bill inside each envelope.

And while I’m thinking of it, wait a minute while I add a few boxes of vanilla wafers to the grocery list. All the nieces who live locally are coming over this weekend to make Christmas cookies, a ritual we began when I came back to Colleton County. We finish off with bourbon balls. I drizzle melted butter over the toasted pecans, vanilla wafer crumbs and powdered sugar, then pour in the bourbon with a lavish hand. We all stir the stiff mixture till our arms give out, then everyone reaches into the bowl, pinches off some dough, and rolls it into a one-inch ball. Once the balls are chilled (and some of the alcohol has evaporated), I give them a glaze of melted chocolate. Time consuming, but sinfully delicious!

Oh, and let me put butter and powdered sugar on the list, too. At least I don’t have to shop for the ingredients. One of the benefits [one of the many benefits!] of marriage to Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Bryant is that he loves prowling the aisles of our local organic grocery. Yes, this means he comes home with exotic cheeses and weird mustards and relishes, but that’s a small price to pay for not having to stock our pantry and refrigerator myself.

Last year, stepson Cal and I gave him an electric train. This year, our present to each other is a belated honeymoon in New York. Amusingly enough, we’re taking the train because I’ve never ridden on one before. Cal doesn’t mind staying home with the cousins, but he’s never been on a train either.

Okay! Eight o’clock and time for me to get moving if I’m going to get to court on time. Dwight and Cal left an hour ago, our cereal bowls are in the dishwasher, and I’ve crated the terrier. Now where did I leave my robe? And what’s on my court calendar? Hang on while I check. Oh, yes, 72 case of equitable distribution to be reviewed. These are mostly rubber-stamp cases that have already been mediated and agreed upon during the divorce proceedings. I just have to double check that they are fair and that one embittered spouse isn’t trying to take advantage of the other. It’s weird the things divorcing couples will fight over. This time of year, it’s usually the Christmas ornaments or home movie collections. Most ED lists are of marital property both parties want—the silver, the crystal, the Bruce Springsteen collection. Then there’s the property that neither wants—the broken lawnmower, the mismatched glassware, the kid. (Yes, sadly enough, I once adjudicated a divorce in which neither narcissistic parent wanted their only child. Happily for him, a loving grandmother stepped forward.)

I’d love to tell you more about my day and what happens after work, but I’m really late and Dwight grumbles when I get a speeding ticket.

Happy holidays, y’all!

You can read more about Deborah in THREE-DAY TOWN, the 17th book in the “Deborah Knott” mystery series. The first book in the series is BOOTLEGGER’S DAUGHTER.

Margaret Maron is the author of twenty-seven novels and two collections of short stories. Winner of several major American awards for mysteries (Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, Macavity), her works are on the reading lists of various courses in contemporary Southern literature and have been translated into 15 languages. She has served as president of Sisters in Crime, the American Crime Writers League, and Mystery Writers of America.

Born and bred in North Carolina where the piedmont meets the sandhills, Margaret grew up on a modest two-mule tobacco farm that has been in the family for over a hundred years. After high school came two years of college until a summer job at the Pentagon led to marriage, a tour of duty in Italy, then several years in my husband’s native Brooklyn.

Eventually, I backed into writing novels about NYPD Lt. Sigrid Harald, mysteries set against the New York City art world. But love of my native state and a desire to write out of current experiences led to the creation of District Court Judge Deborah Knott, the opinionated daughter of a crusty old ex-bootlegger and youngest sibling of eleven older brothers. (I was one of only three, so no, I’m not writing about my own family.)

We’ve been back on a corner of the family land for many years now. My city-born husband discovered he prefers goldfinches, rabbits, and the occasional quiet deer to yellow cabs, concrete, and a city that never sleeps. A son, a daughter-in-law, and two granddaughters are icing on our cake. Visit Margaret at www.margaretmaron.com

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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