Tag: Holiday Traditions

Traditions & Mail Order Brides

 

When people talk about opposites attracting—I am living proof.

Kathryn's Wedding Day

Me and my DH Married on my grandparent’s farm

Although I wasn’t a mail-order bride ~
I was a big city girl from the Pacific coast marrying a small-town boy from the Midwest. I locked every door and checked them twice. He never locked a thing. I would do anything to avoid long lines and crowds, but he used them as a chance to be friendly with the people standing in line with him.

One of the real eye-openers about his different set of traditions was our first Thanksgiving as newlyweds. We traveled “Over the river and through the woods…” to spend the holiday with his family. May I just say that that entire Thanksgiving Day simply felt “wrong.”

His family didn’t watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. His family didn’t start a Christmas puzzle. And they didn’t sit down at a beautifully set table together while “father” carved the turkey, the children got to sneak a sip of wine, and conversation flowed as the meal and my mother’s cooking was appreciated. (I’m beginning to sound like a Hallmark card, but it was really a great up-bringing.)

Instead his family filled their plates full buffet-style and then sat down in the family room and watched the Thanksgiving football game while they ate. Talk was about the game. Then later that evening, after pumpkin pie, they played cards.

The food was the same—traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, and pie. Really, the differences were minor, but for my first holiday away from home, they seemed huge—and of course I was homesick.Sarah Plain and Tall

It made me think that holidays must have been hard for those mail-order brides back in the old west. Even if the new ways were better than what they’d left, they’d still be uncomfortable with the unfamiliar. One of my favorite mail-order bride stories is the Newbery Medal winner ~ Sarah, Plain and Tall  by Patricia MacLachlan.

Traditions – rituals that are done intentionally on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annually schedule–have the ability to strengthen family ties, provide comfort and security and a sense of identity. Traditions are a constant in a world that is continually changing, and a world that is going too fast. Like the comfort of knowing the leaves change color in autumn and snow flies in winter, traditions gird and strengthen roots in a family.

When my own children came along, my family traditions and those of my husband’s melded and became one.  It has been a pleasure to realize that along the way we created a few family traditions that “stuck.”

  1. Family game night
  2. Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
  3. Christmas puzzle
  4. Birthday measuring against the doorpost
  5. A special holiday table setting and meal and conversation—and THEN football.

I’ve never written a mail-order bride story, but I can see how the situation would ripen the plot for misunderstandings and emotions. Even today, I have several friends who have met their spouses over the internet. They are the mail-order brides of today and I can only imagine some of their first holidays together bumping heads regarding traditions.

As this holiday season approaches I am thankful for many things. One of them is you–my readers. It is my hope that you have a few traditions that enrich your life and bring you happy memories. If you don’t—please consider starting one.

The Gunslinger and the HeiressI would love to hear of any family traditions you’d like to share…

Comment for a chance to win my book,
The Gunslinger and the Heiress
packaged with Bronwyn Scott’s ~ Playing the Rakes Game.

(Neither one of which are Mail Order Bride Stories!)

Petticoats and Pistols Sweepstake rules apply.

Non-Traditional Christmas Traditions with Sherri Shackelford

I’m working on a Holiday book for next year, which got me to thinking about Christmas traditions. So many of our traditions are passed down from generation to generation. When I was growing up, we were always allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve. We spent Christmas Eve with family – one year with my father’s family, and the following year with my mother’s. Christmas Day was reserved for the immediate family. My mother’s family lived in Minnesota, and they were fond of a particular drink called a Tom & Jerry. The drink consists of a batter which is mixed with hot water and rum or brandy.

Christmas1897-300

You can find recipes for the batter on the internet (it’s a mixture of eggs, spices and powdered sugar), but I’ve been lucky – a local store in my hometown carries the mix around the holidays. (Although you have to order early, it goes fast!) There are special glass and bowl sets for the batter and the drink. I have to admit I like the drink better without the booze! The ritual of mixing the batter with hot water while the smell of nutmeg and cloves fills the air, instantly brings back memories of Christmas.

Tom & Jerry

I’m from the Midwest, so I associate Christmas with cold and snow. For a few years we lived in California. While I enjoyed our Christmases in California, I missed the changing of the seasons and the added communion of being forced indoors by the weather.

When I became a parent, I developed a bit of resentment for the holidays. Usually, the women in the family are the keepers of traditions. (Not always, of course!) And as the keeper of the traditions, we have the added pressure of making everything FESTIVE!

For the holiday book I’m writing, my heroine has no Christmas traditions. Raised by her father, they treated Christmas as a ‘day off’. No chores, no cooking, and no church. The day following Christmas, they traveled into town and bought each other a gift. (This ‘tradition’ started when the heroine’s father forgot Christmas, and had to make up an excuse on the fly.)

Naturally, when my heroine enters into a marriage-of-convenience with a ready-made family, her family traditions are a bit of a shock to my hero.

Which brings me to my questions – Did your family have any holiday traditions that were non-traditional? 

One commentor will win a $5 gift card from Amazon.

Here’s a sneak peak at the cover/blurb for my February book – this is definitely NOT a holiday book! The heroine is an independent suffragist, and I had a lot of fun writing her 🙂 This book kicks off the Prairie Courtship series. Here’s a hint – If you’ve read The Marshal’s Ready-Made Family, you’ll be happy to know that this is her brother, Caleb’s, story.


The Engagement BargainMake-believe betrothal
;

Rock-solid and reliable, confirmed bachelor Caleb McCoy thought nothing could rattle him; until he discovers he needs to pose as Anna Bishop’s intended groom. After saving her life, his honorable code bid Caleb watch over the innocent beauty. And a pretend engagement is the only way to protect her from further harm. 

Raised by a single mother and suffragist, Anna doesn’t think much of marriage;and she certainly doesn’t plan to try it herself. But playing Caleb’s blushing bride-to-be makes her rethink her independent ways, because their make-believe romance is becoming far too real.

Have You Been Kissed Under The Mistletoe?

Janet-Tronstad This is Janet Tronstad and I’m very pleased to visit with you here in P & P. Before I mention my latest Christmas book, I just have to ask though.  Have any of you ever been kissed under one of those big kissing balls? The ones the Victorians used to make of mistletoe and hang up for their parties?

My latest novella is in a book entitled ‘Mistletoe Courtship’ and I realize I don’t even know anyone who has seen one of those kissing balls. I’m hoping that some of you have though. The mistletoe I usually see at Christmas is one of those small pressed-looking twigs that you buy in the plastic wrapper. I’m sure the Victorians would be appalled.  

From what I’ve read, they took their mistletoe seriously.  I didn’t realize that if you went un-kissed when you were standing under a kissing ball (male or female) it was supposed to mean you would never get married. Talk about pressure. I’m sure that was reason enough to line up. mistletoecourtship

In our culture, it seems to me that we save The Big Kiss for New Year’s Eve.  What’s your take on it?  Do you think mistletoe is still popular? Do any of you have any hanging in your house as we speak?  Do you plan to put some up this year?  And – for the big question – have you ever been trapped under some mistletoe with someone who wanted to kiss you and you’d rather not kiss them back? What’d you do?

I’ll be happy to send a copy of ‘Mistletoe Courtship’ to one of the people who post today so leave a comment if you can.

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