Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas - Is it necessary?

In 2003, I wrote the following article for the Valley of the Sun RW's newsletter. del corAZon. Last night I was watching TV and Melissa Harris-Perry was the host on The Last Word. Melissa spoke about Christmas. The title of her topic? "The Santa Claus Test". I really enjoyed it and remembered how I had done a Christmas piece years ago. I decided to add my article to my Voyager blog this morning. Both Melissa and my article touches on Santa and the meaning of Christmas. Only Melissa's thoughts are so much better. Big Grin *(A link to her article is provided at the end of this article.)

Bah Humbug To You!
All I Want For Christmas Is The World.

“Christmas today is way too commercialized.”

“We’ve lost the meaning of Christmas.”

How often have you heard these statements? Or, have you said them yourself?

If you have, then you might be interested to know that if the Puritans and our founding fathers had been allowed to continue their preference, the subject wouldn’t be an issue today.

In fact, Christmas wouldn’t have existed at all.

Why? Because of religion and national pride.

Let’s look at religion first.

Yes, Jesus is the reason. Has been ever since the 4th century. However, since the Bible does not mention the exact date of Jesus’ birthday, Christmas has also been a bone of contention for the purist types. One of whom was England’s Oliver Cromwell. He and his early 17th—century Puritans decided to deny the legitimacy of any type of Christmas celebration. They especially disapproved of the December 25th date. They argued that the holiday had been established by the Catholic Church in the 4th century only so that Pope Julius I could incorporate a pagan Saturnalia festival into the Catholic theology. He did this so that that the masses who were bordering between Christianity and paganism would come into the church.

Now, here’s where it gets a bit interesting. As long as England was under Cromwell’s thumb, Christmas was not celebrated outright. Then King Charles II got himself restored to the crown in 1661. He reversed Cromwell’s dictate on Christmas and allowed the holiday to be celebrated in England again.

But not so for the English Separatists residing in America. You might know of them as our famous Pilgrims. By the 1660s, these hardy souls had settled in with a vengeance. They not only adhered to their strict religious beliefs, they continued to ban anything they considered as frivolous and wasteful festivities. Christmas customs were considered a mockery against the sacredness of Jesus.

In fact, the good and pious leaders living in Massachusetts were so dead set against Christmas that they made sure the holiday would remain forever forgotten. They enacted a law in 1659 that said: “Whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forebearing of labor, feasting, or in any other way...shall be subject to a fine of five shillings.” (Here’s a side note: Captain John Smith and his Jamestown populace, which was located in what we now know as the state of Virginia, happily enjoyed the Christmas holidays without a protest.)

Then came along the American Revolutionary War and national pride took a hand. The colonists, flush with victory over England, had a disdain for anything English. That meant even all her customs and holidays fell out of favor. Since Christmas was a popular English holiday by then, our founding fathers emphatically scorned it. In fact, they went so far as to hold a session of Congress on December 25, 1789. They also encouraged all Americans to ignore the holiday as well.

The New England colonies, descendants of our Puritans, heeded the call. As far as they were concerned, Christmas was already a dead issue.

Guess who didn’t listen?

Yep! The southern states. Virginia in particular.

Christmas continued to be celebrated in the South with gifts being exchanged between family members and friends. Wealthy landowners even allowed their slaves to celebrate with... “the discharge of Chinese crackers,” and the slaves were “...given an holiday for as long as the great Yule log burned.”

The middle states of our emerging nation sort of straddled the fence, with the majority celebrating the holiday, but doing it quietly, depending on which religion one adhered to.

(Are you beginning to see a trend here between the North, the South and the states caught in between?)

By the opening of the 19th century, however, many Europeans hailed America as the land of opportunity. Thousands flocked to its shores looking for a new life. But with them, they also brought many of the old world prejudices and problems and introduced new ones. Conflicts between the various classes of people became an issue, high unemployment sent poverty to unacceptable levels, and gang violence ran rampant in the larger cities. Then the Civil War erupted with all of its grievances. The horror of the conflict shook the fledgling country to its roots and in the end shattered its southern states into impoverishment and resentful reconstruction.

But, as horrible as the war was, the country also learned something precious. It changed its views about human rights, dignity, and its obligation to its fellow men.

With these lessons in mind, the country tried to move from a wartime mentality to the stress of the fast-paced Industrial Age. How did a country approach human rights while its industry exploded and a handful of men were intent on controlling most of the country’s wealth? And, how could human rights be dealt with effectively when the specter of poverty was even greater with the large numbers of immigrants coming from all over the world?

Some of America’s more social-minded upper-class members decided that something had to be done to unify America into being a stable and peaceful country again. One small way they might do it was to reintroduce the idea of celebrating holidays.

Thanksgiving was one holiday suggested. (Spearheaded by Sarah Hale, editor to Godey’s Lady’s Magazine, it and declared by President Lincoln in 1863 as a holiday.) And, the second was to reinvent an English Christmas, or something like it. After all, wasn’t Christmas based on Jesus and unconditional love?

Eventually, the American people and government agreed. Congress declared Christmas as an American holiday on June 26, 1870. (Thanksgiving didn’t get officially approved until 1941.)

By the middle of the 1800s, there were plenty of Christmas traditions waiting to be reinvented. Charles Dickens’1843 famous tale of A Christmas Carol, a wonderful book about redemption, charity and goodwill toward others, was already being touted as a classic. Washington Irving’s sketches celebrating English Christmases were published everywhere. Ladies’ magazines, such as Godey’s, Munsey’s and Peterson’s Magazine, were avidly doing their part. They regularly published at least one Christmas story in their December issues. Peterson’s Magazine had already gotten into the act of promoting Christmas ten to fifteen years earlier. In 1858, they had written on how to go about celebrating Christmas. The article was titled, CHRISTMAS AND ITS CUSTOMS. In 1879, they published another article titled CHRISTMAS IN THE OLDEN TIME. In both articles, great drawings and detailed text touted just how an English Christmas used to be celebrated, right down to the Yule log, wassail and mistletoe.

Both newly arrived and already-established Americans started paying attention. By the 1880s, sending mass-produced Christmas cards (helped by a newly designed one-cent stamp) flourished so much that the U.S. Postmaster General had to warn everyone to post early in order for the cards to arrive on time. Americans also began to notice how others celebrated the holiday with their own old-world customs. For example, the Germans arriving in the early 1800s had brought their Christmas tree tradition. At first erecting pines trees was considered an oddity, but by the late 1800s the custom of decorating a tree rapidly spread throughout American homes, along with adding German Christmas ornaments.

The Dutch brought their Sinter Klaas, their name for Saint Nicholas (which eventually evolved into the name Santa Claus). The jolly, fat man we know of today was introduced to us by a New York Episcopalian minister. Reverend Clement Clarke Moore wrote a poem for his children in 1822 and titled it An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas (also known today as The Night Before Christmas.) It became a huge hit, not only with his children but with the populace at large. Reverend Moore’s image of Santa Claus was later enhanced by a political cartoonist by the name of Thomas Nast. Mr. Nast drew the jovial man with a bright red suit and hat and full white beard for the January 1, 1881 issue of Harper’s Weekly.

Another thing that moved Americans closer to accepting Christmas was that the family structure on discipline was relaxing. Upper- and middle-class parents were more sensitive to the emotional needs of their children and looked for additional ways to lavish attention without appearing to “spoil” them. Gift giving at Christmas time was the ideal answer and businesses recognized the opportunity. Advertising exploded, hawking the perfect gifts to give to family members and friends.

Which brings me back to my opening question. Has commercialism today ruined Christmas?

Not necessarily. It might just need tweaking again.

Consider back to the time when Christmas was reinvented in America. The country was emerging from the ashes of a war. Businesses were growing and new products appeared daily. Large department stores and mail-order catalogues were introduced across the country. With the railroads and rapid transportation opening the nation from coast to coast, anything and everything could be purchased by anyone who had the need. The emergence of Christmas and gift giving was like a dream come true. That dream not only helped the country become whole again. It also taught that love is all important and by it America could become one of the generous countries in the world.

Today we look upon the past as time of nostalgia, especially when it comes to Christmas. We say that we wish we could go back to a time when life was simpler, less hectic, less violent and less commercialized. Was it really that way or just going through a transition?

Maybe it isn’t that we need to go back. Maybe it’s just come to a point where we need to reinvent Christmas again.

Washington Irving did it with his sketches. Thomas Nast did it with his vision of a Santa Claus. Clement Clarke Moore did it with his poem, and Charles Dickens did it with his story. And, what about all those other wonderful Christmas stories published during the 1800s? They were a big part of bringing back the spirit of Christmas as well.

So, as authors, I challenge you to consider reinventing Christmas. At least, think about it, even if you don’t agree what Christmas stands for today. Who knows, maybe you’ll come up with a story of unconditional love that will make you the next Clement Clarke Moore or another Charles Dickens. With today’s world working through their own issues of human rights and human dignity, we certainly could use whatever you decide to write.

Here's the link to Melissa Harris-Perry's article in The Nation.
The Santa Claus Test

Until next time. Happy Writing!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Have I Got a Story for You

Here's a story some of you may have already heard. But I finally did today, and it struck a chord within me.

Several different ways. One...I couldn't help but admire the plucky little horse's strong will to live. That determination is a wonderful example for anyone who wants something bad enough they draw the very thing to themselves. Two...This would be a GREAT story line, wouldn't it? I mean think about it. Being Molly, as she is, she could bring two lonely people together...ahem...a sweet romance maybe? A hot one?

Take a second and read....

"Life isn't about surviving the storm, it's about learning to dance in the rain."

Meet Molly

She's a gray speckled pony who was abandoned by her owners when Hurricane Katrina hit Southern Louisiana. She spent weeks on her own before finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were stockpiled. While there, she was attacked by a dog and almost died. Her gnawed right front leg became infected, and her vet went to LSU for help, but LSU was overwhelmed, and this pony was a welfare case. You know how that goes.

But after surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he changed his mind. He saw how the pony was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn't seem to get sores, and how she allowed people to handle her.

She protected her injured leg.
She constantly shifted her weight and didn't overload her good leg.
She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic.

Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee, and a temporary artificial limb was built.

Molly walked out of the clinic and her story really begins there.

"This was the right horse and the right owner," Moore insists.
Molly happened to be a one-in-a-million patient.
She's tough as nails, but sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain.
She made it obvious she understood that she was in trouble.
The other important factor, according to Moore , is having a truly committed and compliant owner who is dedicated to providing the daily care required over the lifetime of the horse.

Molly's story turns into a parable for life in Post-Katrina Louisiana ...
The little pony gained weight, and her mane finally felt a comb.
A human prosthesis designer built her a leg.

The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life, Allison Barca DVM, Molly's regular vet, reports.

And she asks for it. She will put her little limb out, and come to you and let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to take it off too. And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. “It can be pretty bad when you can't catch a three-legged horse,” she laughs.

Most important of all, Molly has a job now. Kay, the rescue farm owner, started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. Anywhere she thought that people needed hope. Wherever Molly went, she showed people her pluck. She inspired people, and she had a good time doing it.

'It's obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life,’ Moore said. “She survived the hurricane. She survived a horrible injury, and now she is giving hope to others.”

Barca concluded, “She's not back to normal, but she's going to be better. To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.”

This is Molly's most recent prosthesis. The bottom photo shows the ground surface that she stands on, which has a smiley face embossed in it. Wherever Molly goes, she leaves a smiley hoof print behind.

God's creatures often reflect the character we aspire to.

How wonderful it is that nobody needs wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. Anne Frank


I don't know where this story originated from. I'm sure it's been passed around so many times, the ownership has been lost.

Now that you've read it, does it speak to you? Could you twist it a bit and make it a Suspense story or Mystery? Possibly a paranormal? Hmmm, a paranormal, now that GIVES me an idea. Where did I put my story idea notebook? I've got to write this one down.

Until next time, happy writing.
Kris Tia

Sunday, September 11, 2011

How Sweet The Story Or Gotta Grab ‘Em Right Away

She never really knew why.

He came into her life like some wonderful new perfume. Never before had any man awakened in her hear the tingling romance that his presence seemed to bring.
And yet his attentions were destined to last only one short evening.
They had met and danced. He had seemed quite interested. She was beautiful girl. And still he left her that night saying not a word about seeing her again.
She never saw or her from him and really never knew why.

Did he have a right to suspect her?
Dunbar was in a terrible state of mind. He was worried sick about this wife. He was madly in love with her and she had been acting very strangely during the past several months.
The thing that troubled him most was that she now responded very reluctantly to his affectionate advances. She wouldn’t even let him kiss her. The whole state of affairs was driving him mad. He suspected everything. And, yet, he alone was to blame.

Why had he changed so in his attentions?

The thing was simply beyond her. She couldn’t puzzle it out. And every moment it preyed up her mind and was almost breaking her heart.
He had been the most attentive lover and husband imaginable. But of late some strange something seemed to have come between them. Now he was so changed.
Was is some other woman? No, she told herself, – it couldn’t be! Yet why wasn’t he the way he used to be toward her?

Often a bridesmaid but never a bride.

Edna’s case was really a pathetic one. Like every woman, her primary ambition was to marry. Most of the girls of her set were married – or about to be. Yet not one possessed more grace or charm or loveliness than she.
And as birthdays crept gradually toward that tragic thirty-mark, marriage seemed farther from her life than ever.
She was often a bridesmaid but never a bride.

“Could I be happy with him in spite of that?”

She had announced her engagement to him. Her friends were beginning to be quite curious as to when the wedding would occur. And he, more insistent that nay of them, was pleading with her to set a definite time.
One thing seemed to stand in the way — something she didn’t have the courage to talk to him about — something she feared, might interfere with her happiness.
She simply didn’t know what to do.

Have I captured your attention, yet? What did you think of these five 1920s blurbs? After reading them all, did they make you want to find out more about each of the characters or possibly their significant other?
They did me. As I read these quick blurbs, I kept thinking, Wow, I wish I could come up with neat little ditties like these. They’ve got me hooked. I want to read more.
It’s been a while, since I actually wanted to write anything fiction. After I found these blurbs, I suddenly got the urge to start composing new stories, some being in the same time period of the pictures shown, others possibly being turned into time travel material, and others used with more of a modern-day theme.
That’s why, when it came time to write an article for this month’s newsletter, I decided to offer these blurbs up to you, in hopes that they’ll motivate you as well.
Take them, swirl them around in your creative brain for a while. See what comes up. I bet there’s some really great story material for you.
If you do come up with something, let me know. I’d love to hear all about your ideas.
Oh, and by the way, you’ll get a kick out this little bit of information. These five blurbs were actually 1920s advertisements promoting Lambert Pharmaceutical Company’s LISTERINE mouth wash.
You know what I really think is hilarious about all this? The one thing that’s keeping these lovers apart is halitosis. Just many romance authors do you suppose would actually dare use this as form of conflict between their characters?

Until next time. Happy Writing
(originally written for the March 2004 Valley of the Sun del CorAZon, newsletter)

My Dilemma

I have decision to make.

Originally, I had intended to use this blog for my writing, tying in the past with today. I wanted to use old stories to teach how writing had change. Share things that seem different from present.

I would dearly love to have a connection with people who walk in the card-making world while still connecting with the writing world.

I probably should use to different blogs. Trouble is coming up with a craft name to use, not to mention find a new blog title then let everyone know of the changes. Up till now I have always used Lady Editor as moniker, in everything I do.

Oh well, I did say I was stepping out of my comfort zone and doing things differently. Guess this will be one of the times. For those of you who would like to follow me in both of my worlds I'd be honored for you to do so. It will mean a lot.

Until then Happy Crafting and Happy Writing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Looking for a mentor

I've decided to take another step and ask if anyone out there in the card-crafting world would be interested in mentoring a beginner.


Now, I know how to cut/trim and glue. I know how to color and always stay within the lines (sometimes a stroke will get away from me-sigh) but I'm hazy on the shading/selection of color pens, etc.

Embossing has me completely buffaloed. I mean, I know how it's done, but not exactly sure when to use it, or how to do it so it pops.

The long and short of it is I want to get better, feel comfortable uploading cards to some of the wonderful blogsites I've been visiting. Other people's card are simply amazing and I say that with awe in my voice...or rather with awe in my fingers while I'm typing.

Either way. Have a great weekend

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Taking a step into the NOW

As the title of my blog suggests, I have been happier staying in the background, lurking. You might say I'm terrified of today's ever progressive blogging.

In the past, I've always felt comfortable with an old book on my lap and writing down my thoughts than venturing into the Internet and posting them for everyone to read. However, something inside me (my creative muse?) has been nagging me to be braver, do more with my work electronically. Both my writing and my card making.

Lately I have been following lots of industrious, creative ladies (and gentlemen), who are not at all intimidated by putting their work up on their blogs.

So...I guess...this is my tentative step into going where others have gone before me.

Wish me luck!

My Serendipty Desk

Here is the desk I wrote about.