This time of year reminds me why I've chosen to write the type of mystery known as cozy. As a child, I lived in a small town that wasn't all that different from Threadville-except that it lacked needlework shops.
The Fourth of July always meant family picnics at an uncle and aunt's place with lots of other aunts and uncles gathered around. My mother stationed herself on one of those higher-than-usual metal kitchen chairs that could double as a step stool. She turned a crank that rotated skewers on a charcoal rotisserie. Someone, I don't know who, created a barbecue sauce that she dabbed on each piece. That chicken was delicious.
My mother always brought a roasting pan filled with baked beans that she made from scratch, using dried navy beans, a ham hock, molasses, mustard, and I'm not sure what else, except that the tee-totalers in the family, nearly everyone, were never to be told the secret ingredient-sherry. Those baked beans were also delicious, but they packed a wallop. One of the aunts made the best potato salad ever (do I detect a theme here?) and thick, yummy hermit cookies, while another made a chocolate cake, that, although I was given the recipe, I have never been able replicate. She denied that she had a secret ingredient.
We even had killers, or at least we had killer croquet players hollering things like "You're dead on me." I usually ended up as the victim, and went off to gentler pursuits like hitting the badminton birdie over the net or taking turns with aunts who liked to compose silly rhymes. There was also a lot of competition come up with puns. An uncle and my mother were best at that. I developed a world-class groan, however.
The most memorable fourth was the time all the aunts got up from the picnic table at the same time to clear the table, and all the uncles found themselves lying on their backs on the ground with the table clearing itself--all over their shirts.
We liked our killer games, our yummy food, and we couldn't help laughing when we got ourselves into absurd predicaments. Yep, it was good training for writing cozy mysteries.
In what ways did your family prepare you for the career you chose?