It’s almost Christmas. Shopping, baking, Christmas cards should
be almost done.
Someone posted they didn’t relate to Christmas and the
commercialism, which I can support. And that for many people who live alone,
live below the poverty line or with disabilities, it can be a very lonely time,
made worse by all the talk of big families and get togethers. I also believe this
is true. I thought I’d go back and check out the history of Christmas, before
Santa and the commercialism.
The word Christmas comes from a shortened form of Christ’s
mass. It’s a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around
the earth commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is preceded by the Advent
or the Nativity fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which
historically in the West lasts twelve days.
The traditional Christmas narrative, the Nativity of
Jesus, says Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem of Joseph and Mary. Although the month and date of Jesus’ birth
are unknown, by the early-to-mid fourth century the Western Christian Church
had placed Christmas on December 25th. For Christians, the belief
that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of
humanity, rather than the exact date, is considered to be the primary purpose
Over the centuries and years and through various
countries things like gift-giving, Christmas carols, Christmas trees, Christmas
cards, Christmas decoration, Christmas lights, Christmas crackers, a special
meal, and Santa have been added. Gift-giving and other aspects of the holidays have
heightened economic activity to the point where the meaning of Christmas has
In this time of lights and spending large amounts of
money on gifts maybe we need to sit back and remember that birth long ago, and
the people today who are poor or alone during this holiday season. Just a
Charlene Raddon began
writing nearly forty years ago. She never meant to be a writer. In college she
studied fine arts. But that was before she discovered romance novels, and
before she woke up one morning after a dream so vivid she knew it belonged in a
book. She got out an old typewriter and ever since, instead of painting
pictures with paints and a brush, she does it with words. An Amazon bestselling
author, Charlene was first published in 1994 by Kensington Books. Today, she's
an Indie author. She is also a book cover designer specializing in western
DIPSOMANIA IN 19th
CENTURY AMERICA Believe it or not, the Puritans believed in drinking.
In fact, they brought more beer with them than water. Early Americans took a
healthful dram for breakfast, whiskey for a lunchtime tipple, ale with supper
and ended the day with a nightcap. Continuous imbibing clearly built up a
tolerance. By 1830, consumption had peaked at 7 gallons per year per person.
By the late 19th Century, dipsomania, or alcoholism,
was being treated as a disease. The first arrest for driving under the
influence of alcohol was in 1897.
Physicians began to consider alcoholism a disease, but
they had no real cure. There were facilities for the treatment of dipsomania,
and if that failed, there were always insane asylums where people with
disabilities of all sorts were put to get them out of the way.
In my new novel being released December 15, titled Thalia, The Widows of Wildcat Ridge Book 7, my
heroine, Thalia, goes to the town doctor for advice in trying to cure the man
she loves of drinking. He tells her, "Alcohol consumption eats at your
innards over a long period of time and brings about a long slow death. It
grinds away a man's liver and other organs. Those who recover from it are often
plagued with liver and heart problems the rest of their lives." He tells
her of asylums back east where they treat dipsomania, but he doesn't recommend
them. "Horrible places they are," he says.
But alcohol wasn't
the only addiction rampant in the nineteenth century. During this time, much of
the food consumed by working-class families was adulterated by foreign
substances, contaminated by chemicals, or befouled by animal and human
excrement. By the 1840s home-baked bread had died out among the rural poor; in
the small tenements of the urban masses, unequipped as these were with ovens,
it never existed. The list of poisonous additives reads like the stock list of
some mad and malevolent chemist: strychnine, cocculus inculus (both
hallucinogens) and copperas in rum and beer; sulphate of copper in pickles,
bottled fruit, wine, and preserves; lead chromate in mustard and snuff;
sulphate of iron in tea and beer; ferric ferrocynanide, lime sulphate, and turmeric
in Chinese tea; copper carbonate, lead sulphate, bisulphate of mercury, and
Venetian lead in sugar confectionery and chocolate; lead in wine and cider; all
were extensively used and accumulative in effect, resulting, over a long
period, in chronic gastritis, and often fatal food poisoning.
And adults weren't
the only ones imbibing these poisons. Most medicines, even for children,
contained alcohol or opiates or both. Laudanum
is a tincture of opium containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight (the
equivalent of 1%morphine). Medical officers were convinced that one of the
major causes of infant mortality was the widespread practice of giving children
narcotics, primarily opium, to quiet them. Laudanum was cheap enough, about the
price of a pint of beer. Opium killed far more infants through starvation than
overdose. Dr. Greenhow, investigating for the English Privy Council, noted how
children 'kept in a state of continued narcotism will be thereby disinclined
for food, and be but imperfectly nourished.'
At mid-century at
least ten proprietary brands of medicines containing opiates existed, with
Godfrey's Cordial, Steedman's Powder, and the grandly named Atkinson's Royal
Infants Preservative among the most popular. Opium in pills and penny sticks
was widely sold and opium-taking was described a way of life in places. Morphine was treated like a new-fangled wonder drug.
Injected with a hypodermic syringe, the medication relieved pain, asthma,
headaches, alcoholics’ delirium tremens, gastrointestinal diseases and
menstrual cramps. By the late 1800s, women made up more than 60 percent of
By 1895, morphine and opium powders, like OxyContin and other prescription
opioids today, had led to an addiction epidemic that affected roughly 1 in 200
Americans. The Civil War helped. The Union Army alone issued nearly 10 million
opium pills to its soldiers, plus 2.8 million ounces of opium powders and
tinctures. An unknown number of soldiers returned home addicted, or with war
wounds that opium relieved. Opiates made up 15 percent of all prescriptions
dispensed in Boston in 1888, according to a survey of the city’s drug stores.
Only around 1895, at the peak of the epidemic, did doctors begin to slow and
reverse the overuse of opiates. Advances in medicine and public health played a
role: acceptance of the germ theory of disease, vaccines, x-rays, and the debut
of new pain relievers, such as aspirin in 1899. Better sanitation meant fewer
patients contracting dysentery or other gastrointestinal diseases, then turning
to opiates for their constipating and pain-relieving effects.
Blurb for Thalia:
Thalia Plunkett has loved Duncan Moon, known as Dinky,
all her life. Now he's in big trouble. Can Thalia help Duncan kick the booze
threatening to kill him, and win his love? Or will he choose whiskey over her?
And who is the mysterious man watching Thalia?
The topic for this month was an excerpt from one of your stories that shows the spirit of this season (however you define it) and tell why you used it (excerpt does not have to be Christmas themed). OR write a short story or flash fiction piece for the season.
First, thank you Rhobin for these interesting topics all year.
Next, I don't have any Christmas excerpts so I wrote a short piece with my characters from The Hawkins' Ranch series. It's a short piece on what I think would be an ideal Christmas with family. I hope you enjoy it.
Gabe watched Cody carefully picked up Gran, so she could
place the star on the top of the tree. Gran and Grandpa Jack had bought the
star their first Christmas. The had little money at the time and chopped down a
small tree and strung it with popcorn balls, but they’d wanted a star. So,
their Christmas present to each other had been that star. It had been on the
family Christmas tree every year since.
Cody gently placed
Gran down and she perched on the chair closest to the tree. Gabe smiled at the
family gathering. Everyone was here for the annual tree lighting and dinner. Children
skipped around the room putting red and green balls a on the lower branches and
Lucky and Blue added their barks from behind the gated doorway. Annie put
another record on the old record player in the corner. Silent Night filled the
room. Everyone joined in to sing along
to the familiar lyrics. The children curled up with their parents. Gabe added
his baritone voice to the words.
Cody sat down beside Maggie and Matt wriggled in between
them. Kye stood behind the chair where Janna sat. Eli climbed up on her lap
snuggled and against her shoulder. Kye’s hand rested on Janna’s shoulder touching
her dark hair and Eli’s head. Molly, Matt and Eli knew the words and added their
Even Luke had taken time away from his practice to be
here with Allie and Molly, their adorable red-headed, adopted daughter.
As the song came to an end, Sam plugged in the lights and
the eight-foot fir tree burst into light. Everyone oohhed. The children grinned.
Gabe smiled. It was a familiar scene filled with love. Delicious smells of
carefully spiced mulled wine and Christmas baking emitted from thee kitchen. He
and his family had so much to be thankful for. Maybe this would be the year he’d
add a new member to the growing family – maybe. Until then he’d appreciate another special
Hawkins’ Christmas with his family, food, music and love. It would be a
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!
And don't forget to check out these other websites to read their thoughts on
weeks until Christmas, how are you doing? Decorations
and tree up – check Music
playing -check Christmas
cards sent - check First
Newsletter out (Yeah me!) – check. And you can sign up for it at my
website https://wwwbeverleybateman.com Shopping
– in progress First
Christmas party – check Christmas
baking – in progress. I included my recipe for quick, yummy
Christmas cookies in my newsletter Latest
book, The Fourth Victim Sara’s Story now in paperback – check
I still have shopping and baking and planning Christmas dinner to do.
I’m trying to work on my new WIP. Do you get much writing done during
this time of the year? I
find it a challenge so here’s a few hints that I use and might work for you-
a list and checking it twice. 😊
down your goals for each day – including shopping, wrapping, Christmas concerts,
your schedule and decide when you have a spare fifteen minutes – get up a few
minutes earlier, stay up later, write by hand during a lunch break – fit in
fifteen minutes of writing
Waiting in line to mail parcels, do research 0n line or carry a book with you,
or jot down things you need to check
want get a lot of pages written but you will get a few done over the holidays
and you’ll keep your WIP fresh. And when you’re busy doing research or thinking
about your story you may get a thought that gets you excited and find you have
to write the scene or chapter.
you have any suggestions to help with writing during the holiday season, please
share them with us.
Lexi Post is a New York
Times and USA Today best-selling author of romance inspired by the classics.
She spent years in higher education taking and teaching courses about the
classical literature she loved. From Edgar Allan Poe's short story “The Masque
of the Red Death” to Tolstoy’s War and Peace, she's read, studied, and taught
But Lexi's first love is romance novels so she married her two first loves,
romance and the classics. From hot paranormals to sizzling cowboys to hunks
from out of this world, Lexi provides a sensuous experience with a “whole lotta
Lexi is living her own happily ever after with her husband and her cat in
Florida. She makes her own ice cream every weekend, loves bright colors, and
you will never see her without a hat.
Character Interview Beverley:What’s your name? Holly:My name is Holly Douglas. I’m a widow. Beverley: Where
did you grow up? Holly: I grew up in New
Hampshire, but I married a Scotsman, so I live in Deervale, Scotland now. My
family wants me to move back to America, but I want to stay here. I feel closer
to my husband here, especially because he’s been visiting me for the last three
years and sending me spirits. They are so much fun. I love flying with them. Beverley: During
what time period does your story take place? Holly: Well, that’s a
loaded question. It takes place in my past, my present, and in my future.
Though as Malcom and Joy, my Spirits of Christmas Future, told me, I can make
my future change. Beverley: What’s
your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you? Holly: Oh, I’m just a
regular person. My biological dad had nothing to do with me. When I was a
teenager, my mom and I were living in an apartment building that caught on fire
on Christmas Eve. We were placed with the Tinders by our social worker,
Jessica, who along with Duncan were my Spirits of Christmas Past. Anyway, Mom
ended up marrying the Tinders oldest son, so I got a new family. I met Cameron
at the Highland Games and we were together for two years before we married.
Unfortunately, he died on Christmas day two years later. He was rock-climbing.
I was devastated. Beverley: What’s your goal in this
story? Holly: My goal? Oh, I want
to convince my husband’s spirit to keep visiting me for the rest of my life.
It’s hard though because if he stays too long with me, he could turn into a
ghost. And yes, there’s a difference between a spirit and a ghost. Cam’s and my
connection is so strong that he’s in danger of becoming a ghost. If he turns
into a ghost, he’ll be stuck on the living plane for eternity. That would be
great while I’m alive, but after I die I’ll transition and he’ll be stuck here,
so we don’t want that. But I really miss him. We were soulmates. Coco, she was
one of my Spirits of Christmas Present, along with Ian, and she could see
soulmates. She said they glowed and Cam and I were definitely soulmates. Beverley: What conflicts are you
facing? Holly: Well crap, I kind of
answered that, didn’t I. Except you should know that Cam is trying to get me to
let go of him. The spirits he sent helped me cope, but now he wants me to move
on. I hate that he’s trying to push me away. His best friend Ethan, who is still
alive, by the way, is trying to help me out. Beverley: Do
you have a plan for resolving them? Holly: I’ve tried reasoning
and pouting and yelling and crying. I’m not sure what else I can do. I’m hoping
Ethan has some ideas. He’s always been the smart one of Cam’s two best friends. Beverley: Is there anything else
you’d like us to know about you? Holly: About me? I’m really
not that interesting. Oh, but I do own the One of a Kind Christmas Shop here in
Deervale. It was Cam’s idea, but I’ve always run it. I find artisans to make
one-of-a-kind ornaments and decorations for Christmas. We are doing better this
year because we’ve had a lot of American visitors. Christmas isn’t as big here
in Scotland as in America. Here they celebrate Hogmanay a lot more. I’m
getting pretty excited because I’m only days away from seeing Cam again. It’s
only once a year, but he has my heart and though he says this is his last
visit, I’m hoping for a Merry Christmas anyway. I really don’t know how I can
say goodbye. Blurb for About One of a Kind Christmas:
For her to love him, he must face a spirit, an archangel…and himself.
The spirit of Cameron Douglas has totally screwed-up…again. Now, he has to fix
his mess in one night with the help of his best friend and somehow encourage
his widow to move on.
Holly Douglas is anguished that this is the last Christmas she’ll be visited by
her late husband, Cameron. For three years he’s sent her the spirits of
Christmas Past, Present, and Future, and they‘ve helped her cope with her loss.
But now all that ends, and she doesn’t understand why he must push her away.
Ethan Stewart has been in love with Holly since Cameron’s death, but she
isolated herself from everyone, including him. Then something changed, and he
was welcomed back as her friend. But he wants more— to love her openly, and
most of all to make her happy again. Though he loved his best friend like a
brother and will do anything for Holly, as he’s pulled into the spirit world,
he discovers the price they must pay for their chance at forever…and it just
might be too high.
Excerpt for About One of a Kind
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before opening them. “I miss Cam. It
was as if we were two parts of the same soul. I lived vicariously through him
even while I worried constantly about him. It was one of the reasons I was
constantly warning him to be careful. I was afraid to lose him.”
Ethan looked away and rubbed the back of his neck. “And then I did.”
She felt as if her heart were breaking all over again, not for her but for
Ethan. He was so good to her. He even loved her. And she… “Ethan, I
His gaze returned to hers. Though she couldn’t see his face clearly, the
limited light reflected off the sheen in his eyes.
She placed her hand on his cheek and rising on her toes brushed her lips across
his in a feather-light kiss. She only meant to give comfort, but a spark of
something else hit her heart.
She remained there, her lips close to his but not touching, wanting more but
afraid to ask.
Ethan remained absolutely still, his breath mixing with her own.
He loved her but would never push her. It wasn’t his nature. She could walk
away right now, but to what?
She stared at his mouth in the dim light. She wanted to live again. She wanted
to feel again. Tilting her head, she pressed her lips more firmly against his,
moving her hand down his stubbled jaw and behind his neck to pull him closer.
Ethan’s lips opened, and she slipped her tongue between them.
As his arms came around her, it was like waking from a dream. A slow burn
flowed through her veins as he took control of the kiss and explored her mouth
with his tongue. It was an unhurried exploration and heat built in her belly.
When he pulled back to lick the underside of her top lip, she took her first
deep breath. As she exhaled, tingles spread throughout her body.
He kissed the corners of her mouth before leaning his forehead against her own.
“Ye catch my blood on fire, lass.”