Tag Archives: Christmas

Saying Goodbye To A Faithful Friend and Furbaby


MIA UP CLOSEA funny looking dog–like one of those in Lady and the Tramp–Mia was up for adoption for weeks (maybe longer) before daughter Elise and I came across her. She’d been left tied up in an abandoned house, so was traumatized from abuse, but very sweet. The workers at the animal shelter liked her so much they’d decided to keep her until she found a loving home. Meanwhile, the debate ensued as to what breeds made up her parentage–Welsh Corgifox terrier/ African Basenji. mix, maybe. We were told she was likely mute, but might someday yodel (the Basenji part). Mia wasn’t in the least mute and never yodeled, just needed reassurance, and remained on the nervous side. I could identify. Years later, when I brought home our little pom-poo, Sadie, Mia mothered her (also several kittens) and the two have been extremely close. Although Sadie was the dominant one. Mia never understand she was far bigger, so Sadie bossed her around.

Mia and Percy--Tabby kitty and Corgi MixWhen we got Mia, the shelter guessed she was 3-4 years old, and that was over 12 years ago. This fall, (past year, really) it became increasingly evident she was declining. She still enjoyed ambling about the farm with our lab-mix rescues,, Lance and Luca, but she increasingly snoozed inside on her favorite blanket. Then she began to limp, and that got worse. Before Christmas, we discovered the place on her abdomen we’d hoped was a cyst had morphed into a tumor the size of an orange. Pressure on a nerve caused the worsening limp. She wasn’t gonna get better. Before she grew unbearably debilitated and in pain, we made the decision to let her go. With the help of our kind farm vet, we gently put Mia to sleep in our home today, and didn’t traumatize her by taking her to the animal clinic which she hated.

Colin and baby kitty and SadieSadie was quite upset during the goodbye process, but as Mia grew still, she calmed after I told her ‘Mia nighty night.’ Lance and Luca saw Mia borne to the grave dug in one of my flower beds, and understand she isn’t coming back. Animals have a way of knowing. Small people came this afternoon to ask about Mia. Everyone is sad. She was a good dog. Sadie will really miss her. She’s snuggled on the couch with me. I let her have her favorite blanket, which is also mine.

“Dogs have given us their absolute all.  We are the center of their universe.  We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.  They serve us in return for scraps.  It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.”  ~Roger Caras

lovelymia

My favorite pic of Mia, taken years ago. All images are from her younger days.

“Dogs’ lives are too short.  Their only fault, really.”  ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.” ~Gilda Radner

*Image of Sadie and grandbaby taken a few years ago.

If You Love Vintage American Christmas Cards


I do. Here are several more cards and a tag from the stash Mom found in the old family trunk we poured through at Thanksgiving. Each card tells a story and has messages and Christmas greetings penned from friends and family now gone. Some long gone. We even came across my great-grandmother’s dog-eared address book with notes tucked inside and other bits and pieces important to her. Many of these cards were sent to this gracious woman, though not all. She died well before I was born, but through stories I’ve been told and glimpses into her life, I’ve gained a richer understanding of this lovely Virginian who lived in a gentler age, Makes me terribly nostalgic. So hearken back, and Merry Christmas to all.~

Early American Christmas Card--Wintry Scene (2)

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
Star and angels gave the sign.”
~Christina Rossetti

“I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day.  We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year.  As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year.  And thus I drift along into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself:  “Why, this is Christmas Day!”  ~David Grayson

Vintage Happy New Year Christmas Card

As you can see, this card is for New Year‘s.~

“It is the Christmas time:
And up and down ‘twixt heaven and earth,
In glorious grief and solemn mirth,
The shining angels climb.”
~Dinah Maria Mulock

“Fail not to call to mind, in the course of the twenty-fifth of this month, that the Divinest Heart that ever walked the earth was born on that day; and then smile and enjoy yourselves for the rest of it; for mirth is also of Heaven’s making.”  ~Leigh Hunt

Vintage Christmas Card wintry scene

We assume this guy is bagging the Christmas goose.~

A tag I particularly like below:

Vintage American Christmas Card Kitty

‘As long as we know in our hearts what Christmas ought to be, Christmas is.’ ~Eric Sevareid


Holly Tree“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”  ~Charles Dickens

“I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.”  ~Harlan Miller

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”  ~Alexander Smith

‘Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale;
‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year. ~Walter Scott

Christmas ball in tree“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”  ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

“May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!”  ~Author Unknown

“It came without ribbons!  It came without tags!  It came without packages, boxes or bags!”… Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!  “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”  ~Dr. SeussHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Little house in the snowy woods, Christmas“At Christmas play and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year.”
~Thomas Tusser

“Sing hey!  Sing hey!
For Christmas Day;
Twine mistletoe and holly.
For a friendship glows
In winter snows,
And so let’s all be jolly!”
~Author Unknown

“To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year.”  ~E.B. White, “The Distant Music of the Hounds,” The Second Tree from the Corner, 1954

“Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money.”  ~Author Unknown

ChristmasTree in Snowy Woods“May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.”
~Author Unknown

“The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow” And Ice, Freezing Rain…


Robin“The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then, poor thing?
He’ll sit in a barn and keep himself warm and hide his head under his wing, poor thing.”

From Nursery Rhyme & History: “This nursery rhyme is referred to as either the North Wind doth blow or The Robin. ‘The North Wind doth blow’ is British in its origins and believed to have originated in the 16th century history. ‘The North Wind doth blow’ uses the olde English word ‘doth’. The purpose of the words to ‘The North Wind doth blow’ is to ensure that a child associates security with home whilst empathizing with the plight of the robin.”

I thought of this old rhyme because we are under a winter storm watch in the Shenandoah Valley late tonight through Sunday night and threatened with snow, sleet, freezing rain, and ice. So, the generator and backup generator are as ready as they can be to keep the farm going and cows milked. I’d also like some electricity in the house, being the product of a modern spoiled age. Our internet provider is a small local company (two guys in their basement, I think) so chances are that will go out. 

ganderAnother favorite of mine is Christmas is Coming:

“Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please do put a penny in the old man’s hat. If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do. And if you haven’t got a ha’penny, God bless you!”

 

From Christmas is Coming: (same site as above)

“The lyrics of the poem “Christmas is coming” associate the Christmas feast with geese which are eaten in traditional English Christmas feasts. The meaning that is conveyed to a child in “Christmas is coming” is that the festive period is where each should give to charity, according to their means… even if all they could give was their blessing (If you haven’t got a penny…)”

***A pertinent post from past holiday’s you may enjoy: Christmas is coming the Geese are Getting Fat

Two Christmas Romances for .99 through Dec. 20th


AWarriorforChristmas_7288_300A Warrior for Christmas took me by complete surprise. I expected the usual tale of a former Indian captive transcending his past to live the life of a gentleman, but Beth Trissel’s exquisite writing skill made me love this story…No reader of historical romance will want to miss A Warrior for Christmas, even if it isn’t Christmas.” ~Two Lips Reviews (Five Lips and A Recommended Read Rating)

Colonial American historical romance novella A Warrior for Christmas is reduced at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Wild Rose Press and other online booksellers.

Blurb: Reclaimed by his wealthy uncle, former Shawnee captive Corwin Whitfield finds life with his adopted people at an end and reluctantly enters the social world of 1764. He plans to return to the colonial frontier at his first opportunity–until he meets Uncle Randolph’s ward, Dimity Scott.

Deaf since a childhood bout of Scarlet fever, Dimity Scott intends to be cherished for herself, not her guardian’s purse, even if it means risking spinsterhood. Then the rugged newcomer arrives, unlike any man she’s ever known. Dimity has learned to manage her silent world, but unaccustomed to the dangers of the frontier, can she expect love and marriage from Corwin, who longs to return to his Shawnee life?~

Christmas Mistletoe IsolatedIn A Warrior for Christmas, I sharply contrasted Corwin Whitfield’s hard-won life as an adopted Shawnee warrior in the colonial frontier (the setting for many of my books) with his new privileged life in a well-to-do estate outside of Philadelphia After wealthy Uncle Randolph reclaims Corwin following a treaty with the Indians that requires the return of white captives, he’s given a swift course in etiquette and hustled back into the fashionable world of colonial high society. Expectations that Corwin will learn to manage and ultimately inherit the family estate and undertake the care of his uncle’s ward, Dimity Scott, clash with his restless desire to return to the frontier. Any hope that he might take the unexpectedly appealing Dimity with him dissipate when he realizes the odds of her survival in such a rugged land. Dimity is deaf–risky in the frontier where every sense must be tuned to danger.

If you wonder how Dimity and Corwin communicate in an age before traditional sign language and other advances for the deaf existed, so did I. But the results are surprising and not a little bit wonderful. And then there are the charming traditions of celebrating Christmas in colonial America. A Warrior for Christmas is a story I very much enjoyed researching and writing.~

Somewhere the Bells Ring larger cover sizeHauntingly beautiful Christmas romance novella, Somewhere the Bells Ring, is reduced at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Wild Rose Press, and other online booksellers.

Blurb: 

Everything changes when a ghost requests her help.

Caught with pot in her dorm room, Bailey Randolph is exiled to a relative’s ancestral home in Virginia to straighten herself out. Banishment to Maple Hill is dismal, until a ghost appears requesting her help. Bailey is frightened but intrigued. Then her girlhood crush, Eric Burke, arrives and suddenly Maple Hill isn’t so bad.

To Eric, wounded in Vietnam, his military career shattered, this homecoming feels no less like exile. But when he finds Bailey at Maple Hill, her fairy-like beauty gives him reason to hope–until she tells him about the ghost haunting the house. Then he wonders if her one experiment with pot has made her crazy.

BAILEY FROM SOMEWHERE THE BELLS RINGAs Bailey and Eric draw closer, he agrees to help her find a long-forgotten Christmas gift the ghost wants. But will the magic of Christmas be enough to make Eric believe–in Bailey and the ghost–before the Christmas bells ring?~

The old Virginia home place where my father was born and raised and I grew up visiting over the holidays has inspired more than one story I’ve written.  I spent some wonderfully memorable Christmas’s in that beautiful plantation home (circa 1816) but the ones I’m most sentimental about were in the late 1960′s. Drawn to that era, I set my Christmas romance, Somewhere the Bells Ring, in 1968 during the tumultuous age of hippies, Vietnam, and some of the best darn rock music ever written.

Chapel Hill - old VA family home place

Not only did that nostalgic time period beckon to me but also an earlier one, 1918 and the end of World War One.  Not in the way of battle scenes, but in the form of a wounded soldier recently returned from war-weary France who lives in the house. Having a Marine Corps Captain grandfather who distinguished himself during the thick of the fighting in France during The Great War and then tragically died when my father was only three definitely influenced this story–dedicated to the grandfather I never knew, but grieved all the same.

Richard-in-North-and-South-richard-armitageBut the biggest influence was the poignant dream I had years ago about a young woman visiting this house during the Christmas holidays and the mysterious gentleman she met. That dream nagged at me every Christmas until I finally wrote their story.  If you enjoy an intriguing mystery with Gothic overtones and heart-tugging romance set in vintage America then Somewhere the Bells Ring is for you.

“An intriguing, gripping ghost story with a focus on romance rather than terror.” ~Reviewed by Stephanie E with Fallen Angels Reviews

Romancing the Book: “Ms. Trissel captivates her reader from the moment you start reading the first page. She has written a compelling love story that spans some fifty plus years and keeps you entertained every step of the way with the story within a story…I fell in love with her characters and look forward to the next delightful story ready with Kleenex box in hand. A must read for every romance fan.” ~Reviewed by Robin

BellsSizzling Hot Book Reviews: “As I read on, I didn’t put it down. I even went back and re read it! For all it is melancholy, it is a sweet story of past and present loves and how they parallel. The feelings of each of the main characters are written well and though only a few days pass in the story, it covered years of emotions, and glimpse of a family through the years. When I finished Somewhere the Bells Ring, I felt a sense of peace and calm, a wonderful thing at any time, but especially during the hectic Christmas season that is the setting of this story.” ~Reviewed by Beverly

Wonderful Find in an Old Family Trunk–Vintage Christmas Cards!


Vintage Santa Christmas CardMom came across an antiquated box of family Christmas cards reaching back into the early 20th century. For those of you who enjoy the British television series, Downton Abbey, this would be the Edwardian era before WWI (Season One). Other cards were sent during the Great War and soon after (Season Two). Some cards may extend even further back in time. This window into the past makes me very nostalgic. Reading the messages included in these holiday greetings takes me back to an age forgotten by many, but shouldn’t be.

I’ve often heard about these ancestors, fine people, and even remember some of them from my childhood. Others lived far later into my life, but began theirs when America was quite a different place. Some cards from family friends are people not known to me, but glimpsed through their greetings. These gentle folk wouldn’t be trampling each other at Walmart on Black Friday. There is a graciousness in this era, despite the World Wars, that we are losing. Hearken back with me to earlier days.

Vintage American Christmas Card--excited boy peering through windowThese cards Mom scanned are among the most colorful. Because the cost of ink was high in that era, many only had small colored images or were in black and white. To receive a truly colorful greeting would have been a real treat. I’m grateful my family saved these images and messages from a simpler, more refined time. Many of these folks lived in Virginia. Our roots in the Old Dominion go back several hundred years.

Because of my fascination with these bygone days, I’ve written two Christmas romance novellas: A Warrior for Christmas (set in Colonial America) and Somewhere the Bells Ring (set in the old Virginia family homeplace in the 1960′s with flashbacks to 1918). Both eBooks are on sale at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. A Warrior for Christmas is also out in audio.

“Christmas is the gentlest, loveliest festival of the revolving year – and yet, for all that, when it speaks, its voice has strong authority.”  ~W.J. Cameron

Old Christmas Card Family Scene

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”  ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

“This is the message of Christmas:  We are never alone.”  ~Taylor Caldwell

Vintage American Christmas Card with Carolers

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  ~Charles Dickens

“Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.”  ~Washington Irving

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”  ~Alexander Smith

Early American Christmas Card--Romantic Couple

“A Christmas candle is a lovely thing;
It makes no noise at all,
But softly gives itself away.” ~Eva Logue

***For those of you interested in old trunks. The one containing these cards and other family memorabilia is pictured below. We think it dates from about 1870, but are not certain. If you have a better guess let me know.

old family trunk

Early American Christmas Cards and A Colonial Christmas Romance


Ever wonder about the history of Christmas Cards in America? Here’s what I found.

From Something Olde: Christmas Card History

“In the late 1700’s merchants sent their customers best wishes for the new year. The cards were created on lithographs and hand-colored. A lithograph is an etching on a stone that can be reproduced on paper. Sending Christmas cards first became popular in England over 150 years ago.  In the 1840’s John Calcott Horsely was a curator at the royal museum.  He was late sending his usual holiday letters to his friends and relatives for Christmas.  He asked the artist, Sir Henry Cole, to design and hand-color 1,000 cards.  He wanted the card to show people being fed and clothed to remind his friends of the needs of the poor during this season.”

From The Old Farmer’s Almanac: 

Holiday Cards

The first American to print and sell Christmas cards was Louis Prang of Roxbury, Massachusetts, who began publishing cards in 1875.

(In 1953) President Dwight D. Eisenhower is given credit for sending the first “official” Christmas card from the White House. An art print also became the standard Christmas gift for the president’s staff, a practice continued to this day.

Vintage Santa Christmas CardFrom Idea Finder:   “A relatively recent phenomenon, the sending of commercially printed Christmas cards originated in London in 1843. Previously, people had exchanged handwritten holiday greetings. First in person. Then via post. By 1822, homemade Christmas cards had become the bane of the U.S. postal system. That year, the Superintendent of Mails in Washington, D.C., complained of the need to hire sixteen extra mailmen. Fearful of future bottlenecks, he petitioned Congress to limit the exchange of cards by post, concluding, “I don’t know what we’ll do if it keeps on.”

Not only did it keep on, but with the marketing of attractive commercial cards the postal burden worsened. The first Christmas card designed for sale was by London artist John Calcott Horsley. A respected illustrator of the day, Horsley was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole, a wealthy British businessman, who wanted a card he could proudly send to friends and professional acquaintances to wish them a “merry Christmas.”

Christmas sleigh rideFrom The History of Christmas Cards: At Christmastime, many people would send letters to friends and family far away, and children at boarding school would decorate paper and write letters to show off the writing skills they’d improved upon that term at school. However, the first official Christmas card was created in 1843 in Britain.

Sir Henry Cole, director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, would write letters to family and acquaintances at Christmastime. He and others could buy decorative paper on which to pen greetings and good wishes, but he found it to be a cumbersome task. So Cole commissioned an artist friend, John Calcott Horsley to create a card with a simple message that could be duplicated and sent to all his acquaintances. Horsley lithographed and hand-colored 1,000 copies of this first commercial card. It was a three-panel card – the center panel showed a family celebrating and the two wing panels depicted people feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. The card bore the simple greeting, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You,” which would become the standard sentiment of the mass-produced Christmas cards.

old time SantaCHRISTMAS CARDS RISE IN POPULARITY

“Christmas cards were quite elaborate and though the lithograph printing process helped in producing cards, they first became popular among the upper-class in England. However, the development and improvement of the postal system, making sending cards more affordable, was a big part of the rise in the popularity of Christmas cards. Early cards were not necessarily religious Christmas cards but favored images such as beautiful flowers, birds, scenery and other pretty things.

In 1875 Louis Prang brought the commercial Christmas card to the United States. Prang, a German lithographer, had developed a new innovative way of printing that made the process of creating Christmas and other cards much simpler and more affordable. Like British Christmas cards, Prang’s cards included various images that were simply pretty and tasteful, not truly having much to do with Christmas or even necessarily winter. However, some cards did include holly, snow and some other wintry or Christmas images. His cards became extremely popular in the U.S.; his company printed almost five million cards a year by 1881.”

christmas-holly

Well, you get the idea. In my holiday release, A Warrior For Christmas, (also in audio now!) I journeyed farther back in early America to the colonial time period and the holiday celebration in a wealthy household. However, the hero, a former Shawnee captive, would rather return to his adopted people in the colonial frontier.

Blurb: Reclaimed by his wealthy uncle, former Shawnee captive Corwin Whitfield finds life with his adopted people at an end and reluctantly enters the social world of 1764. He plans to return to the colonial frontier at his first opportunity–until he meets Uncle Randolph’s ward, Dimity Scott.

Deaf since a childhood bout of Scarlet fever, Dimity Scott intends to be cherished for herself, not her guardian’s purse, even if it means risking spinsterhood. Then the rugged newcomer arrives, unlike any man she’s ever known. Dimity has learned to manage her silent world, but unaccustomed to the dangers of the frontier, can she expect love and marriage from Corwin, who longs to return to his Shawnee life?~

***A Warrior for Christmas is available from all major online booksellers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Christmas Bells“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  ~Charles Dickens

Some People Could Greatly Benefit from the Visit of Three Spirits


220px-A christmas carolAs the holiday season fast approaches, my mind turns to the invaluable lessons of that time-old classic, A Christmas Carol. Are there people in your life who would bless you and others with the best Christmas gift ever if they turned around, stopped being mean-spirited and thought of others? I find myself praying a transforming event such as occurred to Scrooge might happen for these souls. What a better place our world would be.

I recently revisited this thought while watching The Muppet Christmas Carol with my darling three-year old grandbaby, Chloe. We sang our way through it. At least, I did. She loves music, though not necessarily my rendition. Everyone’s a critic. It’s never too early to sing your way through that movie. Kermit the Frog is Bob Cratchit and the adored Miss Piggy is his wife. Don’t worry, it all works out in the end. Scrooge is miraculously altered just in time for Christmas. The spirits did it all in one night. If only they got around more.

The Muppet Christms CarolYears ago, when Chloe’s mom, my oldest daughter Alison, was in high school, her English teacher (naïvely) told the class they could call him anytime, should questions arise as to the assignment. This is a small private school, so the camaraderie between teachers and students is greater than in many educational institutions at that level. Conniving Alison and several like-minded friends waited until a few days before Christmas and called this well-meaning teacher at midnight. How he kept his wits about him, awakened at that hour, I have no idea, but he had the presence of mind to ask, “Are you the spirits whose coming was foretold to me?”

Brilliant retort. And he retracted that bit about calling him anytime.

Sally forth good spirits and work your wonders. And God bless us everyone.

Mistletoe–So Much More Than A Christmas Plant


Christmas Mistletoe IsolatedMistletoe is steeped in lore from pre-Christian times, so much so that it might be easier to cover powers not attributed to this revered plant than those that are. Viscum album, the genus that grows in Great Britain and much of Europe, is recognized by its smooth-edged oval evergreen leaves borne in pairs along the woody stem, and waxy white berries, thought to be poisonous, in dense clusters of 2 to 6. Mistletoe is rare in Scotland, but references to it arise in Scottish herbals, so perhaps it was brought in from other regions of Britain. A similar species of mistletoe grows in North America with shorter, broader leaves and longer clusters of 10 or more berries. An evergreen parasitic plant, mistletoe grows on the branches of trees and derives all its nourishment from its host. The sticky berries, transferred by birds, attach themselves to the bark and send out roots. Because the plant prefers softer bark, it’s found more commonly on apple trees and is rarer on oaks which made mistletoe discovered on oaks greatly venerated by ancient Celts, Germans, and it was used in ceremonies by early Europeans. Greeks and other early peoples thought it had mystical powers and the plant gained a wealth of folklore over the centuries. Sacred to the Druids, many wondrous attributes are accorded to mistletoe, including medicinal powers, properties to boost fertility, and ward off evil spells.

Druidism, God, Tree, Praying,

From A Modern Herbal: Mistletoe was held in great reverence by the Druids. They went forth clad in white robes to search for the sacred plant, and when it was discovered, one of the Druids ascended the tree and gathered it with great ceremony, separating it from the Oak with a golden knife. The Mistletoe was always cut at a particular age of the moon, at the beginning of the year, and it was only sought for when the Druids declared they had visions directing them to seek it. When a great length of time elapsed without this happening, or if the Mistletoe chanced to fall to the ground, it was considered as an omen that some misfortune would befall the nation. The Druids held that the Mistletoe protected its possessor from all evil, and that the oaks on which it was seen growing were to be respected because of the wonderful cures which the priests were able to effect with it. They sent round their attendant youth with branches of the Mistletoe to announce the entrance of the new year. It is probable that the custom of including it in the decoration of our homes at Christmas, giving it a special place of honour, is a survival of this old custom.

British Oak

The curious basket of garland with which ‘Jack-in-the-Green‘ is even now occasionally invested on May-day is said to be a relic of a similar garb assumed by the Druids for the ceremony of the Mistletoe. When they had found it they danced round the oak to the tune of ‘Hey derry down, down, down derry!’ which literally signified, ‘In a circle move we round the oak. ‘ Some oakwoods in Herefordshire are still called ‘the derry‘; and the following line from Ovid refers to the Druids’ songs beneath the oak:

Ad viscum Druidce cantare solebant

Shakespeare calls it ‘the baleful Mistletoe,’ an allusion to the Scandinavian legend that Balder, the god of Peace, was slain with an arrow made of Mistletoe. He was restored to life at the request of the other gods and goddesses, and Mistletoe was afterwards given into the keeping of the goddess of Love, and it was ordained that everyone who passed under it should receive a kiss, to show that the branch had become an emblem of love, and not of hate.”

Parts Used Medicinally: The leaves and young twigs, collected just before the berries form, and dried in the same manner as described for Holly.

The preparations ordinarily used are a fluid extract and the powdered leaves. A homoeopathic tincture is prepared with spirit from equal quantities of the leaves and ripe berries, but is difficult of manufacture, owing to the viscidity of the sap.”

“Medicinal Action and UsesNervine, antispasmodic, tonic and narcotic. Has a great reputation for curing the ‘falling sickness’ epilepsy – and other convulsive nervous disorders. It has also been employed in checking internal haemorrhage.

***Bear in mind that although mistletoe has some possible medicinal qualities and has been used for centuries for various maladies, it is potentially toxic so do not administer it to yourself.

From http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/302/

“Mistletoe was thought to be a remarkable and sacred shrub because it seemed to grow from the air and not from the earth. Mistletoe has been considered undesirable because it feeds off other trees; however it is also thought to have a symbiotic relationship because it provides nutrients when the host is in dormancy. It also provides food for a host of animals and birds who consume its leaves and shoots.

Over time its folklore has grown to include the belief that the oak mistletoe could extinguish fire, that it held the soul of the host tree and placed in a baby’s cradle would protect the child from faeries.

Mistletoe KissKissing under the mistletoe is also cited in an early work by Washington Irving, “Christmas Eve,” which tells of the festivities surrounding the Twelve Days of Christmas:

“Here were kept up the old games of hoodman blind, shoe the wild mare, hot cockles, steal the white loaf, bob apple, and snap dragon; the Yule log and Christmas candle were regularly burnt, and the mistletoe with its white berries hung up, to the imminent peril of all the pretty housemaids.”

Used as good luck charms to ward off evil, its sprigs were also put under the pillows of young girls who thought it would entice dreams of the husband to be.”

From http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/holidays/mistletoe3.htm

“Mistletoe is also said to be a sexual symbol, because of the consistency and color of the berry juice as well as the belief that it is an aphrodisiac, the “soul” of the oak from which it grows. The origin of the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe is vague. However, the tradition may have stemmed from either the Viking association of the plant with Frigga (the goddess of love) or from the ancient belief that mistletoe was related to fertility. Another explanation for the tradition is that it is derived from the festival of Saturnalia, a popular mid-December celebration in ancient Rome.

Christmas Mistletoe IsolatedThe correct mistletoe etiquette is for the man to remove one berry when he kisses a woman. When all the berries are gone, there’s no more kissing permitted underneath that plant.

One legend states that a couple who kisses underneath mistletoe will have good luck, but a couple neglecting to perform the ritual will have bad luck. Specifically, it is believed that a couple kissing under the mistletoe ensure themselves of marriage and a long, happy life, while an unmarried woman not kissed under the mistletoe will remain single for another year.”

***Mistletoe and werewolves: In some ancient lore, mistletoe is considered a repellent and protection from werewolves.

***Royalty free images of mistletoe, Druid, British Oak, couple kissing beneath mistletoe

‘A Very Virginia Christmas Stories and Traditions’–Charming Christmas Collection!


ea3ae-averyvirginiachristmasA Very Virginia Christmas: Stories and Traditions (2012 Independent Publishers Gold Medalist) by Wilford Kale debuted last November at the Barnes & Noble in Colonial Williamsburg. I was among the authors who took part in the auspicious signing. Why, you may ask?

Because I’m delighted to have an account from my nonfiction book, Shenandoah Watercolors, included in A Very Virginia Christmas. My holiday excerpt in this wonderful collection describes celebrating Christmas at the old Family home place in the Shenandoah Valley. I’m honored to be among the illustrious authors who span centuries of life in my beloved Virginia, and proud to add my voice to the holiday reminiscences from our beautiful valley. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, you’re missing out, and it’s getting to be that time of year again. The book would make an excellent Christmas gift. A Very Virginia Christmas is available in hardcover at Amazon and from many other booksellers.
 
The publisher of this lovely Christmas Collection, Parke Press, has this to say about A Very Virginia Christmas:
“For the past 400 years, Virginians have created traditions of their own, borrowing from a variety of Christmas celebrations in other countries. This year, Wilford Kale has compiled the work of 16 contributors telling how Virginians observe the Christian wintertime holiday: from the Shenandoah Valley to the Eastern Shore, from colonial days up to the 21st century, in times of need to times of feasting and merriment. Read about eggnog, Robert E. Lee‘s Christmas, Parke Rouse‘s Christmas on the Southside, Richmond’s Nativity pageant, and Earl Hamner‘s childhood Christmas in the Virginia mountains. You will also find stories including the Christmas Truce, the origin of “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph,” along with other Christmas favorites. Your storytelling time at Christmas will be warmer and cozier than ever with these tales that remind all ages of the real meaning of  “the most wonderful time of the year.”
An article in the Virginia Gazette gives even more insights to this vintage Christmas collection and the special man behind it, Wilford Kale. Entitled A Jolly Collection of Virginia Christmases, the article goes on to say: “Who better to compile a book about Christmas in Virginia than a man who could pass for Santa Claus. Wilford Kale, a long-time journalist, short-term politician and part-time Kris Kringle, has edited “A Very Virginia Christmas – Stories and Traditions,” a new collection of stories, anecdotes and traditions about Christmas. He’s included the work of some heavy hitters, including Earl Hamner of “The Waltons” fame, Booker T. Washington, Park Rouse and Francis Church. Oh, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Alfred Tennyson are included too.
The collection includes four centuries of Christmas memories and anecdotes, ranging from Capt. John Smith to the generations of children who visited perhaps the state’s best-known Santa at Miller & Rhoads in Richmond.”
To that I add, and me! For the complete article, visit the link. And God Bless us Everyone!
***Images of the old family home place outside of Staunton, Virginia, a wreath in Colonial Williamsburg, and a Victorian Santa Claus (royalty free)