Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Favorite Christmas Traditions by A.M.Westerling

The 25th of every month is my day to blog here at the Canadian Historical Brides Blogspot. You know what that means – today is Christmas Day. Without further ado, I would like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and hope you’re having a day filled with love, happiness and good food! I know you're busy today so if you want to opt out now and stop by  again later, that's just fine. Otherwise, read on!

My family has a couple of traditions. The first is listening to Perry Como’s Christmas album entitled Home for the Holidays and it was always the first album we played when we decorated the tree. My younger brother converted it from LP to digital and gave us copies one year as Christmas gifts. I still love it and make sure to play it over the holiday season.

The other tradition is giving out chocolate letters in the initial of your first name. My mom carried that one on for years and now that she’s older and no longer able to manage it, I’ve taken it over for my own kids. Dark chocolate, not milk chocolate is our preference. Seeing as how I'm a romance writer, I will add that these two just got engaged to be married! Congratulations to my son Kevin and his fiancée Kate. :)

And that’s it for today’s post, short and sweet. I do wish you the very best for 2019! 
Are you looking for something fun to read over the holiday season? How about reading about Rose, Harrison and Hannah and their adventures in Barkerville, British Columbia, Book 4 in the Canadian Historical Brides collection?

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sedna, a Dark Tale For Winter Solstice

For this blog, I will travel north, far above the lands of the Athabascan peoples, into the land of the Inuit.

Sedna is the Inuit goddess of sea creatures, of primary importance to the Inuit people whose food source was the seal, fish, and whales which once abounded in the Arctic Ocean. Her story is a dark one, filled with mixed signals for any modern reader, especially if raised on cleaned-up versions of these often strange and bloody stories. 

Every human group created these origin tales in ancient times, and what is now formally designated “mythology” comes from stories told around campfires where small family groups rested after their daily struggle to survive in a world which seemed indifferent to their presence.   The Inuit, like other northern human groups, were nomadic people who followed the game that they relied upon for food, clothing, and shelter. They hunted along the sea shores and across the ice.

Men and women filled different roles in this society—the men hunting and making tools, the women doing almost everything else. Sedna is supposed to have been both beautiful and accomplished. This meant she would have been able to clean what the men caught, prepare food from the flesh and prepare hides and gut to make clothing, containers and shelter. 

There are many versions of this story, but Sedna is supposed to have rejected all the suitors who came to her. Her father, tiring of this, (or food had grown scarce--depends upon which tale you read) told his daughter that the next young hunter who came looking for a wife would become her husband. And sure enough, almost at once a handsome stranger presented himself, one who promised to be a good provider and give Sedna furs, warm blankets and plenty of food, both fish and meat.   

Sadly, after Sedna went away with him, her new husband stripped off his human disguise and revealed that he was not a man at all, but a Fulmar. Instead of a warm home, she was expected to live in a rocky stinking nest and eat nothing but raw fish. The nest stank because the Northern Fulmar has a reservoir of oily nasty smelling fluid in its gut, which it can spray at will upon the birds which prey upon it, or upon men at sea who anger it.   


When her father at last came to visit, he found Sedna in despair. Angry, and frightened too, that this shape-shifter had taken his daughter away under false pretenses, he waited beside her on the windy  rocks. When the Fulmar returned at night, and while he was still in his bird shape, the older man killed him. He and his daughter fled in a skin boat, but the other Fulmars, learning of what had happened, pursued them.

With their mighty pelagic magic, the Fulmar raised a great storm. The father, now fearing for his life, decided to save himself. He pushed Sedna overboard into the icy Arctic water, hoping that the Bird Spirits would be appeased. When Sedna tried to climb back into the boat, he chopped off her fingers so she could not hang on. As her fingers and blood fell into the water they became seals and whales and walruses and all the other mammals of the sea.

Sedna, transformed in this great storm of magic which surrounded her, sank to the bottom of the ocean, the Adlivum, which is the Inuit underworld. Here, in a new fish-tailed, flipper-handed form, she now rules both the dead and the wide ocean, giver of all life. It is Sedna ("The One Down There") that Inuit Shaman call upon for help when game is scarce and the people are starving. In trance, they descend into the watery darkness to visit her, to soothe her by combing her hair and massaging her wounded hands. They beg her to release the sea mammals who hide in her hair. 


Sophia Kelly Shultz-explore her magical artwork here

What can we make of this ancient story? Here we have a female heroine who commits the sin of pride, who suffers and dies, and is transformed. She becomes Mother Ocean, sometimes angry, sometimes peaceful. When she is happy she sends her animals, to feed the people. If people disrespect her, she will withhold her gifts; if children do not listen to their elders and play in dangerous places on the sea ice, she is likely to snatch them away, down into the dark underworld.  

At her most abstract, Sedna reminds us, we spiritual travelers, that there are "nourishing gifts to be found in the dark, cold places that we most fear."*

*Goddesses Knowledge Cards of Susan Eleanor Boulet, text by Michael Babcock  

~Juliet Waldron

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Santa by Katherine Pym

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When a little girl my parents enjoyed round robins during the holidays. They dressed up in their best clothes and partied at each others' houses, including ours. The celebration from house-to-house lasted until the wee hours.

When they came to our house, my brothers and I were already snug in our beds asleep. Their laughter often woke me up. I’d slip out of bed and hide behind the half wall at the top of the stairs. I tried to discern the topic of conversations, catch any gossip that floated about. Music from the 45’s played in the background. Glasses clinked. Toasts and laughter abounded, my mom’s the most engaging. Everyone laughed when she did.

Once, as I crept from my room to the stairs, my dad hollered, ‘Kathy, go back to bed.’ I frowned. How did he hear me? I had been so quiet, so careful.

Once, after everyone left our house, I sneaked downstairs and ate some of the food, looked at the full ashtrays and half full glasses. Bored and too tired to remain, I went back to bed.

Hours later and all excited, my mom woke us. “Get up, it’s Santa Claus.”

I had been in a solid sleep. My brothers dashed downstairs but being the eldest and the wisest, I took my time. When I walked into the living room, a thinner Santa than expected sat in a chair with his back to the window, the curtains open.

He beckoned to us. “Come here, children,” he slowly said, his body swaying.  

Not the Santa I saw
We went to him. He seemed younger than what I had envisioned Santa to be. Black hair peeped from beneath the white wig. He wobbled while on the chair. His eyes half closed, drool gathered in his beard. Even as young as I was, I knew the guy was filled to the gills with drink. All those houses he went to and dropped off gifts must have had glasses of brandy or whatever next to the milk and cookies. Santa seemed to have preferred the brandy.

My view of Santa sank and I looked over his shoulder, out the window. It had snowed heavily, which came as a surprise. The street, sidewalks and our yards blanketed white, a full moon brightened winter’s night. The clouds had scudded away and the sky was almost blue, the world brilliant.

The beauty of it took my breath away.

Santa’s words slurred. “Be good, little children. Honor your father and mother.”

Santa faded away as I marveled at the stunning beauty, the sparkling snow under a bright full moon. A thought drifted. Am I dreaming?


Many thanks to Wikicommons, Public domain.

Monday, December 17, 2018

San Francisco Christmas Spirit

Delve into the dawning of New Brunswick's history, the Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution, and a forbidden romance, in ON A STORMY PRIMEVAL SHORE. Buy Link Below.

But now on to Christmas memories. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, in a small town called Pacheco. Almost every Christmas we traveled the 25 miles to the Big City where my father's sister, my Aunt Mary lived. Aunt Mary never had children, though she'd had about three husbands. She was a Registered Nurse, but also a free spirit who wore turbans and dangly earrings. Her laugh was uproarious. She was my Auntie Mame.
Aunt Mary as nurse

Christmas in San Francisco was magical to a child: the creeping fogs, the groan of the foghorn out in the bay, and Macy's department store with the huge decorated tree in the store's center.
Not Macy's but similar.

When older, my brother and I would leave the chattering adults and roam the city. We'd ride the clanging cable cars down to Fisherman's Wharf. A freedom most children couldn't enjoy today. I loved the old Victorian buildings, the bustle of the trollies, the fat sea lions grunting on the pier.

The city was decorated with ribbons and tinsel. Giant Christmas ornaments hung from the street lights. The store windows looked like Christmas scenes out of a storybook.

We'd wander through China Town, with the shops set up on the sidewalks.

By the time we returned to our aunt's apartment, a delicious dinner would be served. My beloved aunt and brother are long gone but I'll always have these wonderful memories from my childhood.

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For more information on me and my books, please visit my website: www.dianescottlewis.org
Diane Scott Lewis grew up in California, traveled the world with the navy, edited for magazines and an on-line publisher. She lives with her husband in Pennsylvania.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Christmas Traditions by Victoria Chatham

I'm late, I'm late, I'm very, very late! That's what comes of looking at the wrong calendar but I have finally caught up with myself!

Our post for December is about traditions, holiday or otherwise. I can’t say my family ever had ongoing traditions because we all moved about – a lot. It came with the territory of service families and I think because of that we just got to enjoy Christmas as it came, regardless of where we were or who we were with.

Once I had my own home and family, things changed a little. For a family vacation one summer, we took a holiday cottage for two weeks in Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire. The last thing I expected to find in a local pottery were unpainted porcelain nativity figures. They were discounted so I bought the full set of Mary and Joseph, baby Jesus in his manger, the three kings, two shepherds, a camel, a donkey, a selection of sheep and finally the angel. I don’t remember the cost, but after we got home, I spent weeks hand-painting them. I worked with several brushes, even one that I shaved down until there was only one hair so I could complete the facial details. That one badger’s hair did sterling service, but I needed a magnifying glass to see what I was doing. Once the figures were painted, then we built the stable and my children did a wonderful job of constructing it from popsicle sticks, cardboard, and real straw to thatch it with. It also had battery operated flashlight bulbs set in the interior corners of the roof, so everyone could clearly see it. It was the first decoration we set up and the last one we put away.

Our Nativity set reminded us that Christmas wasn’t about the gifts we gave or received, but about compassion, peace, and hope for a better future. I have no photographs of it as, at that time, no one in the family had or cared to have a camera. It’s in my memory, and maybe my children’s too. I hope it is.

So, to all of you, have a very happy Christmas, celebrate the season with your own traditions, and I wish you all a wonderful New Year.

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