I had an exasperating questionnaire posed to me recently. She meant well, I guess, but it hit a nerve nonetheless. “Which book is your favorite? Haven’t you written like a DOZEN or so?” All I could hear was her tone in the word “duzzzzzzin” – how her eyes rolling when she said it. Mama used to tell us that if we “looked at her again in that tone of voice, we’d be in trouble.” How can someone “look” in a “tone of voice?” I now know and understand. Sorry Mama.
Without hesitation (or filter on my lips) I extemporaneously blurted out, “SEVEN!!!” I raised my eyebrows, lifted my chin and proceeded my proclomation.
“Actually, I’ve written seven. And EACH one is as unique and special as children are to a parent – do YOU have a favorite child? Hmmmmm???!!!???” I felt my cheeks flush from that fit of flustering, uncontrolled exclaiming, right there on Carroll Street, Downtown Perry. She probably did have a favorite child – and I now somewhat remembered this woman and her brood and further recalled that she probably had a least favorite child … a rank that interchanged daily depending on her offsprings’ doings. Anyways… I digress…
Southern-boy guilt welled up and seeped into my psyche – that guilt of being bred to always be polite and say “yes ma’am” drilled into us by a childhood immersed (literally if you’re a Baptist) inSchool, cotillion, elderly unmarried aunts, little ol’ ladies and our mamas – who were simply keeping the tradition from which they learned. I sheepishly had to grin across gritted teeth and say, “Yes ma’am. This is my seventh book.” I took a deep breath. “A Time to Celebrate is my seventh book, and I could not be more excited, thrilled or honored to share with the world recipes, photos and stories of my life. May I reserve you a copy, ma’am?
She nodded, vexed at the honey-tongued charm I was ladling. “I’ll come by the shop one day soon” she said. “Thank you ma’am. And I look forward to signing a special copy JUSSSSSST for you.”
As she walked one way and I walked another, I laughed out loud to myself right there on the herringbone-patterned brick sidewalk as I walked back to my shop and office. I laughed because my first reaction was to be defendant and adversarial when someone referred to my tome – to my literary and culinary accomplishments. I need not have to defend anything I’ve accomplished. I should be proud. Not a negative sort of pride, but a sort of pride that comes from deep within – confidence and assuredness maybe? Regardless, I am well-stocked in pride for my culture that I cannot wait to share it with everyone I meet. I mean, come on y’all, who doesn’t want a piece of Carmel Cake? Right?
What I need to do is celebrate my accomplishment – celebrate my history, my heritage and my legacy with my people – literally celebrate how I’ve just written about in the book – celebrating life’s grandest and humblest moments in true Southern-style. And that is what I plan to do. Today is, and my seventh book is officially released! Yay!!!!! And that my book is released in my favorite month, in my favorite season! And, that , I’ll have great folks from all around The South with me – at a favorite shop in Buckhead, Lucy’s Market. There is nothing to ruffle my feathers about a day like this! This pride is a good feeling and I really do want to share it with y’all!
Yes, I have written seven books. Wow!!! I honestly cannot believe that the dream I had in college to write a series of lifestyle books has come to fruition! Thank you all for supporting me and encouraging me. I had amazing photographers (Emily Followill and Kristen Scott) working with me and my sweet friend Jenna Bush Hager wrote the foreword! My incredible team at James Farmer Inc showed nothing but noteworthy and stellar talent, dedication and perseverance every step of the way. My Mimi and my Mama instilled in me grace and appreciation for our Southern legacy, and my sisters, Aunt and Uncle, Grandfather and cousins continue to motivate and keep the feast with me – each and every day. “Thank you” are two little words to cover a broad range, but I mean them.
The subtitle of the book is from the Book of Common Prayer – Let us Keep the Feast. Long after the celebration is over, I want nothing more than the sustenance from that celebration to keep – to stay, to dwell, to grow and to live – within our hearts and souls. So, it is a TIME TO CELEBRATE, y’all! I know I am! I look forward to celebrating with y’all! And that is definitely something to be proud of – great friends and family and reasons to celebrate!