Tag: Christmas

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Carols, Cookies & Books

December 10, 2018 by in category Charmed Writer by Tari Lynn Jewett tagged as ,

I’m currently in holiday mode, which means All Christmas, All the Time. Everything else has become an ‘in-between’. Bill paying is in-between decorating the house. Chores are in-between gift-wrapping and last minute sewing, and writing is in-between baking thumb prints, cut-out cookies, and cranberry orange bread.

And all the while I have either Christmas music or holiday movies playing in the background. So, if you’re sick of hearing Andy Williams singing, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, or Bing Crosby’s version of Silver Bells, you might not want to hang out here , and if you don’t know who Andy Williams and BingCrosby are, come over for cookies, hot cocoa and some classic holiday sounds.

Our boys are grown and on their own, so we’re no longer cuddling up with warm cookies and a stack of Christmas books and reading them together. No Christmas story from my favorite Bible Storybook. No The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. No Christmas in The Big Woods by Laura Ingles Wilder. It made me a little sad that I wouldn’t be sharing all of those special stories with my children.

As I fingered a tattered copy of Dr. Seuss’s, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I realized that just because I might not have a child on my lap (or three) that it didn’t mean that I couldn’t share these stories with other kids. So, I decided that this year when I donate toys to our local Sheriff’s Department, I’m also going to donate brand new copies of some of our favorite books. I hope that reading them will become a holiday tradition for someone else. Something that they can do together in-between all of the bill paying, chores and other things that have to be done.

What are your favorite holiday books, classic or new? Children’s books or adult? We all need something that brings back the wonder and the magic of this special season. So put on some Christmas music (here’s a link to Billboards Holiday 100 to get you started), put some cookies on a plate and curl up with a good holiday book. And don’t forget to tell us what you’re reading!

Oh, and the photo is Hunky Hubby in his holiday finery!

Happy Holidays everyone, see you next year!

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Quarter Days: Christmas

December 28, 2017 by in category Columns tagged as , , , , ,

Greetings to my fellow history nerds. It’s time for another installment of my quarterly blog on historical topics.

In past posts, I talked about the English Quarter Days of Midsummer’s Day and Michaelmas.

Father Christmas with the Yule Log, 1848

To refresh your memory, Quarter Days were the four days during the year when rents were paid, servants hired, and contracts commenced. The last Quarter Day of the calendar year was the grand holiday of Christmas. Though the Quarter Day was December 25th, Christmas celebrations went on for twelve days.

Kissing under the Mistletoe

Christmas Romance

We romance authors flood the lists every year with Christmas novellas, and not just the contemporary lists. Christmas Regency romances abound and sell well. But how to get the details right for our hero and heroine? How did the Christmas celebrations aid or interfere with a Regency hero’s wooing? How did they celebrate Christmas?

Before the Regency

As I pointed out in an earlier post, Christmas falls around the time of the winter solstice. The pagan festivities of the season were Bacchanalian revels of feasting and drinking and other wicked practices. To encourage some order, the early Christian church designated December 25th as a religious holiday.

So, people went to church…and then they feasted, drank, and engaged in other wicked practices.

Under the Puritan rule that resulted from the 17th century English Civil War, the observance of Christmas was banned. The Lord High Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell, and his Puritan cohorts decided that English people needed to be protected from carnal delights of holiday celebrations. Christmas became a regular workday. Anyone celebrating could be subject to penalty.

The Puritans carried this attitude across the Pond. Christmas was illegal in their American colonies also.

With the restoration to the throne of Charles II (a man greatly given to Bacchanalian revels), Christmas was also restored in the English calendar of holidays.

The Man Who Invented Christmas

Christmas as we know it was documented by Charles Dickens, author of A Christmas Carol. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’ve dipped into the book by Les Standiford. In the story of Scrooge and Tiny Tim, Dickens brought to life the quintessential picture of a Victorian Christmas.

But if you’re writing a Regency-set Christmas romance, don’t pull out your copy of Dickens and copy his story world. To quote a post I wrote a couple of years ago:

Decorating with evergreen boughs and mistletoe (and kissing under the mistletoe!), wassailing, acting out pantomimes, and singing carols, were very likely part of the Regency holiday celebration…Christmas trees and Santa Claus did not become popular until Victorian times.

Click on the link to read the rest of that post.

A Visit from St. Nicholas

Or, as we know it, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, was written by an American, Clement Clarke Moore, in 1823. Dutch and German holiday traditions influenced the celebration of Christmas earlier in America than in England. Prince Albert, Victoria’s German prince, is credited with popularizing the Christmas tree in England.

Pictures worth a thousand words

Dickens brought us A Christmas Carol in 1843, but check out this series of illustrations by cartoonist George Cruikshanks. Even before Scrooge made his appearance, the early Victorians were holding over-the-top celebrations of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

No matter what holiday you celebrate, I wish you all the best in this season of holidays! I’ll be back in March to talk about Lady Day.

 

 

All Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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It’s Nice to Be Important, But It’s More Important to Be Nice by @meriamwilhelm

December 20, 2017 by in category A Bit of Magic by Meriam Wilhelm tagged as , ,

I enjoy including interesting quotes when writing my blogs and even sometimes in my books. So I’m always looking for new ones to add. Many times I find the quotes inspirational, sometimes funny and often motivating. While I love to include comments from famous world leaders, educators and even fellow authors—I’ve rarely included any quotes offered by actors. Not that I intentionally rule them out—it’s just been that way… until today.

“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”

What famous human being uttered those profound words, you ask. It may surprise you to learn that the insightful thoughts were offered up by none other than Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock. He said them while celebrating his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last week. When asked what the recognition meant to him, he shared that it was all about family…about working hard and surrounding himself with good hard-working people…about the happiness he found in always sharing his gratitude for his friends, family and for his professional success.

His words struck me and I decided to try to put them into action. I thought—I should be more like him. It’s not that hard—after all, I can be a nicer personcan’t I? But man, during this crazy holiday season, it turned out to be a lot harder to do than I had expected.
Whether I was interacting with a cranky postal worker, a harried sales clerk or a nasty fast food server – I challenged myself to try and remember The Rock’s words…”it’s important to be nice”. It was exhausting at first and at times I had to grit my teeth and force a smile on my face. It would have been so easy to give up and succumb to my feelings of frustration and fatigue.

But once I got started, I have to tell you that I found that the tides quickly turned when I took the time to offer a kind word of understanding or gratitude when confronted with an unpleasant individual. I’m not sure if my smile and nice words embarrassed others into change or made them just stop a moment to think about how they were acting—but more than once I heard surprise, relief, and far nicer words offered back to me in place of anything negative. And it felt pretty good and rather empowering to project niceness in place of nastiness.

Thanking the grumpy postal worker for her hard work during these busy days caught her totally off guard. She actually stopped, looked me in the eye, and touched my arm as she smiled and thanked me for noticing and wished me a Merry Christmas too! I admit that I had a little more of a struggle with the store clerk who rang my sale up wrong not once, but twice. Yes, I really did want to choke her until I noticed her eyes filling with tears as she looked at the long line of unhappy folks waiting behind me. I turned around and faced the formidable crowd, smiled and said, Ain’t Christmas great! I’m sure that a few of them wanted to kill me right there, but it seemed to give the kid behind the counter enough time to figure out her mistake and to actually ring up my order correctly. I left wishing her a Merry Christmas and she sighed a thank you and squared her shoulders ready to take on the next customer with a smile on her face.

It hasn’t been easy and I haven’t been always been successful. More than once I’ve had to choose to swallow a comment with a smile rather than announce what a craptacular job I thought someone was doing. I’m glad that I happened to hear The Rock the other day and I actually appreciate the challenge he unknowingly sent my way. It’s been tough to say the least, but I’m going to keep trying to be nice…because it’s important!
Cast a Spell on Me | Meriam Wilhelm | A Slice of Orange
Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Veterans Day: a soldier with PTSD finds his way home by way of a Christmas Piano Tree

November 11, 2017 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , , , , , , , ,

Veterans Day is for healing…let’s not forget our wounded warriors who suffer not only the physical pains of war, but the mental as well.

PTSD was first talked about during the Civil War by physicians who described it as nostalgia, while others believed it was a disturbance of a soldier’s mental capabilities caused by severe trauma to the brain.

After World War II, John Huston directed a documentary called Let There Be Light, about the care of soldiers with mental disturbances suffered during wartime.

These are wounds you don’t see.

But they are very real to the soldier with PTSD.

In my holiday romance, “The Christmas Piano Tree,” the hero, Sgt. Jared Milano, is a wounded warrior suffering from PTSD from his last mission in Afghanistan:

“His brain went into freefall and he couldn’t stop it. No matter how hard he tried, how much he squeezed his mind, the memory stayed lost in a thick, suffocating fog swirling around in his head.

Lost.

Dead and forgotten.

Angry, frustrated, he tried to reach out and grab it, but whatever his buddy said to him before he died remained silent and still in his mind.

When would he remember? When?”

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Chris_Piano_Tree_Cover_Final_500x800

The Christmas Piano Tree” is the story of a pretty young war widow who re-discovers the magic of the holiday season with the help of a homeless vet and an old piano.

I’ll never forget the Christmas I spent stationed overseas in a small town in Italy. The hot chocolate and cookies I baked and gave to the soldiers who signed up for my Christmas Eve Midnight Mass tour. Off we went on that wintry night in an old military school bus…

We were a motley group of military and Special Services personnel attending the service in a medieval cathedral that was cold and damp, but filled with song and hope for a better future.

Many of those men had seen the horrors of combat and suffered from PTSD (what we called DSS–delayed-stress syndrome–back then). Their stories as they told them to me have stayed with me always…

Thank you for spending part of your Veterans Day here with me. We thank all those who have served for their courage and bravery in keeping us and our families safe. God bless you.

~Jina

The Christmas Piano Tree is available on Kindle and KindleUnlimited.

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Hop aboard The Magic Christmas Train — nominate my book & get a Free copy from Amazon if it’s selected for publication by Jina Bacarr

September 11, 2017 by in category Jina’s Book Chat tagged as , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Magic Christmas Train from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Ever since I could hold a microphone, I haven’t stopped telling stories. I used to record fairy tales on an old tape recorder when I was a kid . . . then later I went on to radio doing live commercials, news, voiceovers, interviews, talk radio, etc.

I love to tell stories and add pictures and music.

Which is why I couldn’t resist putting together this 2:00 video about my Kindle Scout book “The Magic Christmas Tree.” Imagine if you could go back to a special Christmas, see family and friends you miss, and change the course of your life . . . and save the man you love from being killed overseas during World War 2.

If you ever wanted to go home again . . . this is the story for you!

A hot, sexy hero, a spunky heroine who tries to save him, and the magic of a small town Christmas . . . and plenty of good food!

So hop aboard the Magic Christmas Train and meet the Arden Family doing their best to support the troops during that Christmas of 1943.

I’d really appreciate your nomination . . . part of the process is getting your book “Hot” and it’s not easy! So any help is much appreciated. Thank you!

You can check out The Magic Christmas Train HERE =

Jina

 

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