Category: Holiday

Rise Up and Call Her Blessed

Portrait of Marie-Julie Clary Queen of Naples with her daughter Zenaide Bonaparte
Robert Lefèvre via Wiki Commons

Kristi here. Have you called your mother today? Probably not. But if your mother lives in the US, she’ll be expecting that phone call Sunday since it is, after all, Mother’s Day. (If she lives in England you should have called on March 18 – hope you did!)

Mother’s Day (or Mothering Sunday as the characters in our books would have referred to it) was a very important day. Celebrated at least since the 16th century, Mothering Day in England is part of Lent. It is the Sunday when Eating restrictions are relaxed in honor of the feeding of the five thousand. During the Regency (and surrounding periods) it was also when domestic servants were allowed to journey home, often with a gift of cake or flowers, to see their family.

The Importance of Motherhood

Portrait of Countess Shakhovskaya with Daughter
Dmitry Grigorievich Levitzky, via Wikimedia Commons

It doesn’t surprise me that mothers were considered important enough to allow one’s servants to make the sometimes long journeys to visit them. While traditionally and biblically the father is the head of the household, mothers have always been the backbone.

In Proverbs 31, the woman is a wife and mother who does the grocery and clothes shopping, manages investments, stays up at odd hours, does charity work, ensures her family’s comfort and safety, cares for the home, and teaches the children. And she does all of this with honor and wisdom. It is no wonder that “Her sons rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also praises her.” Proverbs 31:28

 Blessings on Mothers

1818 portrait of women with children
François Gérard, via Wikimedia Commons

Mothers come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. There are adoptive mothers and foster moms, mothers with one child and mothers with nineteen. Women who don’t have any official claim to the title of mother, but act in that capacity with boundless love.

No matter what the pathway to motherhood, know that God considers it one of the highest callings a woman can receive. He is trusting you with His most precious gift, His very creation. He trusts mothers to protect, raise, and instruct them in how to be effective children of God.

If you are blessed enough to have your mother with you, take some time, holiday or not, to rise up and call her blessed. It’s what she’s done all that work for.

The Imperfection of  The Fallen World

Marie-Louise of Austria with her son „Napoleon II.
By Joseph Franque, via Wikimedia Commons

On the other hand, you may not be blessed with the existence of your mother. Whether by illness, age, neglect, or misunderstanding, you may not have a mother to pick up the phone and call. There is good news for you as well.

“As a mother comforts her son, so will I comfort you.”  Isaiah 66:13

Despite the practice of giving Him a male personification, God is capable of being everything you need, including a mother. We live in a fallen world where mothers make mistakes because they are human. Disease enters their bodies. The grief of losing or never having your mother is deep, but God’s love is deeper.

Rise Up and Call Her Blessed

Caroline Bonaparte, wife of Marshal Joachim Murat, with their kids, 1810
François Gérard, via Wikimedia Commons

Since I became a mother I understand my own so much better. I have days where I call her just to tell her I now realize what an awesome mother she is. It often makes her cry. The reason mothers love those handmade cards and popsicle stick ornaments is because they are reminders that our children think we’re special. There is no greater gift you can give your mother than to tell her thank you.

Maybe you don’t have a mother and God has already filled that void in your life or maybe you have some extra time on your hands. Bless another mother by keeping her kids while she does the grocery shopping or bringing her a meal. Call a new mother up and tell her she’s doing great. Call a broken hearted mother and offer her your shoulder.

Henry Bickersteth, First Baron of Langdale (1783 ~ 1851) is credited as saying, “If the whole world were put into one scale, and my mother in the other, the whole world would kick the beam.”

You are blessed, mothers of the womb and of the heart, for you have become the physical manifestation of God’s arms on earth. Love your children with the love of God and you cannot go wrong.

Happy Mother’s Day

Originally posted 2012-05-11 10:00:00.

Happy Leap Year Day!

 

Leap Year A La Regency

Thirty days hath September, 
April, June and November; 
All the rest have thirty-one, 
Excepting February alone 
Which hath but twenty-eight, in fine, 
Till leap year gives it twenty-nine. 

Just as young people desiring to bypass all the rigmarole to get married in Regency England could hightail it to Scotland, women could also thank the Scots for making it a law allowing women to propose to men one day a year, every four years on Feb. 29.

Tradition has it that this law came on the books back in 1288—and that if a man turned a woman down, he must pay a fine, anything from a kiss to a pair of gloves or even a silk dress. Another tradition has it that the spurned woman must be wearing a visible red petticoat if she wanted the fine paid. Tradition aside, there is no written evidence on the books of Scottish Parliament’s having passed such a law.

Another legend has it that it was over in fifth century Ireland that St. Brigit asked St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men, since, supposedly, men were laggards in this area. After a bit of negotiating, St. Paddy allowed it every four years on Leap Year Day.

The American Farmer, published in 1827, quotes this passage from a 1606 volume entitled Courtship, Love and Matrimonie:

Albeit, it is nowe become a parte of the Common Lawe, in regard to the social relations of life, that as often as every bissectile year doth return, the Ladyes have the sole privilege, during the time it continueth, of making love unto the men, which they may doe either by wordes or lookes, as unto them it seemeth proper; and moreover, no man will be entitled to the benefit of Clergy who dothe refuse to accept the offers of a ladye, or who dothe in any wise treate her proposal withe slight or contumely.

So, wherever or however the tradition developed, by the time of the regency, Leap Year as a year or a day of female initiative in the romantic sphere was well-known. 1812, 1816 and 1820 were all leap years. Even though the Gregorian calendar had made the bissextile year (having an extra day) official back in 1582, Britain ignored the date of Feb. 29, so legally it didn’t exist. British law conveniently “leaped over” the date, probably because of so many negative superstitions associated with it, especially concerning livestock and crops. Ignoring this day resulted in a tradition of “anything goes”—hence women proposing to men. According to the Encyclopedia Americana 2004 Edition (Volume 17), King Henry VIII’s reign had an English law passed making February 28 the official birthday of “leaplings” or “leapers,” those born on Leap Year Day .

LEAP YEAR, OR JOHN BULL’S PEACE ESTABLISHMENT

[Published March, 1816, by S. W. Fores, 50, Piccadilly]

This British political cartoon satirizes the royal marriage of Princess Charlotte of Wales (the Prince Regent’s daughter) to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg on May 2, 1816.

The British Parliament settled £60,000 on the newlyweds, with £50,000 more for the prince should his bride pass away. The cartoon depicts the English nation on its hands and knees, a bit in his mouth, driven by Her Royal Highness with a horsewhip.

John Bull is the national personification of England, the way “Uncle Sam” is to the United States. He is loaded down with packages labeled with all the heavy tax burdens imposed on the populace at the time. After more than a quarter century of war with France, Britain’s people were financially exhausted. The Prince Regent’s extravagant lifestyle and building projects only filled them with disgust and caused a growing number of riots (one reason the Prince Regent preferred spending time at his seaside retreat, the Royal Pavilion at Brighton).

In the cartoon, Prince Regent George supports himself on crutches formed of dragons from his Brighton money pit. “Push on!” he shouts, “Preach economy! And when you have got your money, follow my example.” “Oh! my back,” groans John, crawling under the weight of his heavy burdens. “I never can bear it! This will finish me.”


 Sources: English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the Nineteenth Century/Chapter 3, Wikisource.org; Smithsonian Magazine.com; http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Society/leap-year.html; http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Leap-Year-Superstitions/; http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/historical/a/leap_year_2.htm; http://voices.yahoo.com/leap-year-2008-history-facts-798349.html?cat=37

 

 

Originally posted 2012-02-29 05:00:00.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day from the authors of Regency Reflections.

Here’s wishing you a day filled with the love of your friends, family, and Lord.

Originally posted 2012-02-14 08:00:00.

Reflections on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day in Regency England

Cards were already a popular custom for all classes by regency times. Most were home-and-handmade from plain to fancy, depending on what the sender could afford. Fancier ones might include gilt-edged paper and real lace (paper lace didn’t come into production until later in the century). Woodcuts or copperplate engraved cards existed but this process was still hand-done and thus time-consuming, so mass-produced cards didn’t come on the market until the 1820s. This coincided with the standardization of the postal system, making sending cards cheaper.

For those who had trouble with a rhyme, there were publications called “Valentine writers,” chock full of ready-made verses for gentlemen to use. Some even contained poetical replies for ladies to use.

Everybody’s Valentine Writer; or True Lover’s Notebook; and Kemmish’s Annual and Universal Valentine Writer, or the Lover’s Instructor were a couple published in England in the late 18th century.

A sample of a lady’s reply to a gentleman’s verse, from Everybody’s Valentine Writer:

To a Gentleman

With proverbs, sir, I see you play;

With proverbs, too, I answer nay—

 

The Language of Flowers

Although special significance of flowers became most popular in Victorian times, lovers’ messages through flowers was already seen in regency times. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, wife of the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire , described a “secret language of flowers,” when her letters home were published posthumously in 1763. This language was a form of Turkish and Persian poetry called selam, which used words that rhymed with flower names. In 18th century Europe this developed into giving flowers sentimental significance (ie. a rose symbolizing love).

 

Various and changing meanings were ascribed to different flowers, but you wouldn’t want to receive a striped carnation in 1819, which according to Madame Charlotte de la Tour, who published a dictionary on flower language entitled [sic] Le Language des Fleur, meant “I’m sorry, I must say no.”

Yellow carnation, you disappoint me...

 

 

Nor would you want to receive a yellow carnation, which meant “You disappoint me.”

 


 

Better would be a red rose from your true love; or a pansy (“you occupy my thoughts”); or perhaps an arum, which meant ardor.

The Art of the Valentine Card

The reputedly oldest valentine card in existence is owned by the British Royal Mail. It dates from 1790. Its four points open up to reveal a love poem, but the outside words are already quite enchanting:

Valentine card circa 1790

“My dear the Heart which you behold,
Will break when you the same unfold,
Even so my heart with lovesick pain,
Sure wounded is and breaks in twain.”

 

Sources:

The Evening Independent, Feb. 14, 1977

The Year’s Festivals, Helen Philbrook Patten, 1903

The Quest of the Quaint, Virginia Robie, 1916

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1947/02/15/1947_02_15_021_TNY_CARDS_000207379

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/11feb2011-aac.pdf

Originally posted 2012-02-13 10:00:00.

Be Mine, Valentine ~ The art of the handmade card

Kristi here.

By the time the Regency time period came around, sending letters to your special valentine was a firmly established tradition in England.

Handmade Valentine from 1816. Photo by Nancy Rosin, www.victoriantreasury.com

While a few manufactured valentines were finding their way into shops, mass-produced, pre-printed valentines similar to what we see today (minus the cartoon characters) didn’t really make an appearance until the mid-1800s. Therefore, when our handsome heroes gave valentines to our heroines, they had to make them.

You can check out an article about  antique valentines here. You can learn more about the particular valentine pictured at left here.

I am a fan of the handmade valentine. I’m a fan of the handmade anything, really. The personal time and thought mean a lot to me.

My oldest daughter is in preschool this year which means she’s going to have her first Valentine’s party. Since I’m making a deliberate attempt to make me and my family healthier this year, the last thing I want to do is send candy to 24 preschoolers and have the leftovers sitting around the house.  I am also on a mission to clean out and organize my house so the second to last thing I want to do is send her to school with little pieces of meaningless, useless paper to go home and clutter up everyone else’s houses.

So we made valentines. I got on the handy, dandy internet and started looking for non-candy, non-pointless valentines and I found these.

My daughter holding her pencil valentines

See? They have a point.  <enter big cheesy grin here>

I love these valentines! They are cheap, practical, and really easy for my daughter to put together herself. While the kids might not be excited about pink and purple pencils, I know there are some moms that will be happy to get something besides candy and cartoon characters.

As a bonus, because I had to get this post ready, these valentines are actually done early! I won’t have to stay up on the thirteenth taping construction paper flags to valentine themed pencils. My husband is so proud.

If you’re looking for some creative valentine ideas, check out Family Fun’s website. They have a lot of ideas with and without candy. There are even ideas for teacher gifts and things like that.

What about you? Do you make your valentines or buy them? What’s the most creative valentine you’ve ever seen?

Originally posted 2012-02-08 07:00:00.

Love & Marriage

Hello, Jessica here! It’s February, and when I started thinking about Valentine’s Day during the Regency, I thought of a poem that many a Regency gentleman would have had in a volume on his bookshelves. It’s an epithalamion – or “marriage poem” – written by John Donne to celebrate a marriage that took place on Valentine’s Day. (If you want to read the whole thing, you can find it here.)

In the poem, Donne riffs on the legend that Valentine’s Day is the day when the birds choose their mates. He says, humorously, “Hail Bishop Valentine, whose day this is, all the air is thy diocese,” and goes on from there to make comparison between the marriages of the birds and the marriage of the human couple in whose honor his poem is written.


Photo credit: gracey from morguefile.com 

Marriage of the Birds

As I perused the poem in preparation for this blog entry, I admit that my first reaction was to geek out on all the cool literary and historical stuff in it – the use of avian and celestial imagery, the conceit that the whole poem is a speech to St. Valentine himself, the echoes of Chaucer’s “Parliament of Fowls” – but as I read further, my thoughts took a more devotional turn.

Even though the Regency was a time when the ideas spawned by the Enlightenment were changing the culture and a time when industrial progress was starting to creep over the landscape in the form of railroads and factories, it was still a time when the young minds of the landed gentry were saturated with ancient philosophy and poetry, thanks to the classical education so many of them received. The old idea of the natural world as a created, ordered system still held sway over the English imagination.

Thus, the idea of finding your spouse on the same day that the birds found their mates appealed not just because it was romantic, but because, in some mystical sense, it was right. Mankind was seen as a part of the natural order and it was fitting to let your own life reflect the order of the cosmos.


Photo credit: click from morguefile.com

First Comes Love . . .

Of course, even if getting married on Valentine’s Day was a good thing, no educated Regency gentleman would have said that it was necessary. But what most would have said is that there was an order to the cosmos and that humans were a part of it.

Romance and the Cosmos

Romance might be a small part of the cosmic order, but if it is a part of it, what does that mean? Well, it means what we’ve always known that it means: it means that romance is not something meant to stand alone. It’s a part of a bigger picture – it’s supposed to lead to and be a part of marriage. A wedding is the crowning glory of a romance. And then, over time, things shift, and romance becomes the warm affection of a faithful marriage. Romance is the gate a couple opens in order to walk down the path to their home – the home that was created when the two became one – and romance is the light and warmth that still adorn that home, months and years and decades after the wedding itself.

More than that, a good marriage becomes a window for us to understand the relationship between Christ and His church. Maybe the marriage of the birds was just a legend that provoked some beautiful poetry once upon a time, but the poetic relationship between human marriage and the wedding of the Lamb is a true reflection of eternity onto the skin of the natural universe. All good and true love is not only a gift from God:  it’s also an arrow that directs our gaze back to the greatest Lover of all.

Originally posted 2012-02-03 01:00:08.

The Belles’ Holiday Wassailing Tour: Course #5

Vanessa here,

Welcome to this 5th stop on the Wassailing Tour.  If you’ve missed some of the others, please don’t hesitate visiting. Here are links to all of the Belles’ holiday wassailing stops, with different Regency era Christmas carols, dinner selections, beverages including wassail recipes at every blog hop.

Bonus Question for Belles’ Give Away: Which member of Lady Pendleton’s family suggested they sing “I Saw Three Ships.”

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The Belles’ Holiday Wassailing Tour: Course #5
Dec 14
Welcome to the 5th stop of the
Belles’ Holiday Wassailing Tour!

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14th of December, 1819 Port Elizabeth Colony, South Africa

Precious Jewell swatted her brow as she stirred the huge pot of wassail swinging upon the hearth. It smelled better than it looked with the flecks of cinnamon swimming in the murky brown liquid. Anything had to be better than the ginger beer Gareth brewed at the blacksmith’s. The two were going to lug it here for tonight’s dinner which would be serve to all of the Margeaux’s crew.

Christmas in Charleston or London was cold, double shawl, stiff britches cold. This was so different. Most of the men Gareth captained were as new to this place as she. Would they like the spending the Yuletide here?

Stirring again, she shook her head. Men and beer. The crew would enjoy themselves.

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Gareth’s Ginger Beer (Martha Lloyd’s Ginger Beer Recipe)

  • Two gallons of water,
  • two oz. Cream of Tartar. T
  • two lbs of lump sugar. T
  • two lemons sliced,
  • 2 oz. of ginger bruised.

Pour the water boiling on the ingredients, then add two spoonfuls of good yeast; when cold bottle it in stone bottles, tie down the corks. It is fit to drink in 48 hours– a little more sugar is an improvement; glass bottles would not do.

Recipe from: Martha Lloyd’s Household Book With thanks to the Jane Austen Society.

 

Precious’s Wassail – Best Ever Hot Wassail Recipe

Recipe by: Jen Nikolaus

  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 4 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 12 whole cloves, or 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a large pan. Bring to simmer over medium-low heat.  Reduce heat and continue simmering for 45 minutes.  Ladle into cups or mugs and enjoy!

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With a final stir, Precious wiped her damp hands with her apron. Her gaze went to the window. The bright green grass and distant palm trees and no snow didn’t quite look like Yuletide either.  Well, this is what Gareth wanted and truthfully, she do anything to help him. How could love be so much, so overwhelming, so covering and smoothing all the scarred places.

“Precious, how are things in here?”

Speak of the devil. Gareth, and that deep voice of his, dared to enter her kitchen again. The second time in twenty minutes. Weren’t there some Xhosa to go chase, or something?

She turned to him, waving her big wooden spoon. “Things are as good as the last time you dragged in here. You’re probably ready to spout some more nonsense about English vittles.”

Folding his arms against his brilliant white shirt, he leaned against the door frame. “You sound a little perturbed, my dear. Are you sure nothing is amiss?”

“Nothing. Now go on.” She waved her hand to shoe him like chickens, but that dumb old rooster came forward.

Close to her side, he flashed that pompous, wonderful heart-in-her throat grin. “You seem a little on edge.”

Lowering her spoon, she released a sigh and turned back to her pot. “I know how to cook, you know. You’ve been eating well haven’t you? Don’t have to keep checking up on me.”

He stood directly behind her now, and lightly fingered her neck and gave a rub to her sore shoulders. “You do many things well, my jewel. But this is an English meal, and my men are looking forward to it. It’s a touch of home for them.”

“Do you miss London, Gareth?” Her pulse stopped moving. She could hear every creak of floorboards of the sailors gathering in their parlor. If he missed London, maybe he didn’t like it here, or maybe he had regrets.  She stiffened and edged away. Tossing the spoon into her apron pocket, she picked up her oven paddle and went to the fiery brick oven. Sticking it into the hot box, she stabbed at her loaf pan and removed it. “Is that why you keep checking, so you can tell me you want to return?”

He followed and took the paddle and set the steaming loaf on to the table. “You’ve done well with the English Bread. The men will enjoy it, and the rest of meal. Collards and whatever else you’ve created. You’re food is always delicious.”

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English Bread

Recipe from The New London Family Cook; Or, Town and Country Housekeeper’s Guide, by Duncan MacDonald

Put a bushel of good flour into one end of your trough, and make a hole in the middle. Take nine quarts of warm water by the bakers called liquor, and mix it with a quart of good yeast; put it to the flour, and stir it well with your hands till it is tough. Let it lie till it rises as high as it will, which will be in about an hour and twenty minutes. Watch it when it comes to its height, and do not let it fall. Then make up your dough with eight quarts more of warm liquor, and one pound of salt: work it up with your hands, and rover it with a course cloth or sack. Put your fire into the oven, and by the time it is heated, the dough will be ready. Make your loaves about five pounds each, sweep your oven clean out, put in your loaves, shut it up close, and two hours and a half will bake them. In summer time your liquor must be lukewarm; in winter, a little warmer, and in hard frosty weather as hot as you can bear your hand in it, but not hot enough to scald the yeast, for should that be the case, the whole batch will be spoiled. A larger or smaller quantity may be made in proportion to these rules.

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Precious laid a thin cloth over the bread allowing it to cool, but not dry out. “You didn’t answer my question.”

A smile kissed his lips, and he hummed a tune. What was it?

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While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

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Precious plodded back to hearth and started stirring again. The clove and cinnamon smell of the wassail wafted. It stung a little bit upon her weak eyes. And that poor her heart of hers had lodged right against a rib. It was probably the the only thing keeping it from falling out onto her freshly swept floor.

Gareth’s big hand clasped hers, and he spun her to him. “I have Christmas everyday with you and Jonas, but my men don’t. I just want to give them a special day.”

It was Christmas everyday, being loved by the good captain in Port Elizabeth.

separatorDon’t miss the next stop.

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Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem: A Bluestocking Belles Collection
In this collection of novellas, the Bluestocking Belles bring you seven runaway Regency brides resisting and romancing their holiday heroes under the mistletoe. Whether scampering away or dashing toward their destinies, avoiding a rogue or chasing after a scoundrel, these ladies and their gentlemen leave miles of mayhem behind them on the slippery road to a happy-ever-after.

***All proceeds benefit the Malala Fund.***

Goodreads Reviews

Amazon | Smashwords | Amazon UK | Amazon Australia | Amazon Canada | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Read more about Precious and Gareth in Season One of the Bargain. The first episode is free.

Season finale, Episode IV is available. http://bit.ly/1REcdnf
Season finale, Episode IV is available. http://bit.ly/1REcdnf

 

Matchmaking Pudding ~ A short story by Laurie Alice Eakes

Merry Christmas from Regency Reflections! Our gift to you is this charming short story written by Laurie Alice Eakes. This is a revised edition of a story previously published in an American Christian Romance Writers (Now American Christian Fiction Writers) newsletter. 

(Note: To the English, “pudding” is not the custard-like substance Americans call “pudding.” English pudding is more like a cake, though it Is boiled, not baked, and plum pudding does not necessarily contain plums.)

 

The Devere family entered the kitchen once a year. From Lord Devere, to his wife ; from Rebecca, the youngest of their nine children, to Sarah, the eldest , the family gathered around the worktable on Christmas Eve morning to take turns stirring the plum pudding. According to tradition begun a century earlier when the last Stewart, Queen Anne,  sat on the throne, each person prayed as he or she stirred—prayed for prosperity and joy, prayed for strength and future spouses.

“Let us say a special prayer for the new year,” suggested Belinda, the middle daughter.

Everyone agreed—except for Sarah. Christmas might now have more meaning to her heart , but to her, what went into and came out of the pudding needed a helping human hand, not divine intervention.

She intended to control the disbursement of the charms, those tiny trinkets that made each slice of the pudding an adventure. When the family gathered with friends and neighbors to partake of the pudding, Sarah would ensure that each person received the charm that she thought befitted their needs.

Belinda would receive the thimble, reminding her to be thrifty with her pin money. Rebecca would receive the wishbone because she, being so small, needed all the blessings she could get during the next year. Their father would find the anchor in his slice of pudding, for he was such a stronghold for all of them he needed a safe harbor himself. The crown would go to fifteen-year-old Geoffrey because he would enjoy directing the festivities as “king” and wouldn’t be mean about his revels. Finally, to Lance would go the ring. Although he was only four and twenty, he was the heir and should wed sweet-natured Eliza. They’d loved one another since infancy.

Sarah frowned as she stirred the pudding with one hand and fingered the trinkets in her pocket with the other. “And, Lord, don’t bring Alexander calling again.”

Eliza’s older brother Alexander Featherstone had begun to court her, Just because I’m the only female in ten counties who hasn’t thrown her cap over the windmill for him.

Not that she was impervious to his looks, charm and intellect. She could love him. . .if he came around too often. She feared she already did love him; thus, she wanted him to stay away from her rather than add her to his quiver of fawning females.

“Tharie.” Rebecca, tugged on the skirt of Sarah’s round gown, “you’re taking all the turnth.”

Sarah released the spoon and stooped to lift her baby sister high enough to grasp the wooden spoon. Once on the floor again, Rebecca looked up with a seraphic smile. “I athked Jethuth for a huthband for Tharie.”

Sarah grimaced. “You’re better off praying for a wife for Lance. That won’t take a miracle.”

Belinda giggled. “Oh, I don’t think it’ll take a miracle—for either of you.

Blushing himself, yet smiling, too, Lance grasped the spoon from Belinda. “I pray that Eliza accepts my offer.”

“We’d like excellent matches for both of you,” their father said. “Who has the charms?”

“I do.” Sarah gave the trinkets to the cook to drop into the batter as she poured it into the bag for boiling.

Except the cook wouldn’t drop them in. Sarah had persuaded her and the butler to press the charms into the pudding slices of the right people. The cook’s nod assured Sarah she would carry on the game, and Sarah followed the family upstairs to rest before church.

At the service, Alex and Eliza joined the Deveres at the church. Somehow, Alex ended up sitting beside Sarah in the box pew.

When they stood, he slipped his large, warm hand beneath her lace-clad elbow. When they prayed, he took her hand in his, and she couldn’t pull it away without drawing attention to them. When they departed, he draped her cloak over her shoulders and allowed his fingertips to brush the side of her neck. Those were courting gestures, and she didn’t know why he teased her so.

Nor why God had ignored her prayer to keep Alexander away.

Disturbed, she tried to climb into the carriage with her parents and younger siblings, but they declared the vehicle overcrowded and insisted she go with the Featherstones. But that carriage was also full, so Sarah and Alex strolled the half mile from village to the Devere estate over ground white and hard with frost, through air that turned white with each breath, beneath a sky that resembled candle flames frozen in black glass. Cold, Sarah didn’t object when Alex tucked her hand in the crook of his elbow, then covered her fingers with his.

At least she said she didn’t object because of the cold. In truth, she felt warm all the way through, and that made her uncomfortable, unsure of herself.

Sarah hated being unsure of herself. She never was unsure of herself—except around Alex lately.

Lord, I don’t want to be another foolish female with a broken heart over him. But she feared she already was, for she’d seen him courting many girls in the decade she’d known him noticing females.

The Lord seemed to be ignoring her. Alex sat beside her at the table as the butler carried in the pudding and began to serve. Smiling, she watched everyone take their first bite of pudding, anticipating the moment when each found his charm.

But no one did.

Family member after guest savored the rich sweet until half of everyone’s slice vanished—except for Sarah’s, as she hadn’t taken so much as a nibble of hers. Everyone glanced around the table, curious,  puzzled.

“Who’th got a charm?” sleepy-eyed Rebecca asked. “I wanted the crown.”

Everyone shook their heads.

Lord Devere looked at Sarah. “You gave Cook the charms, didn’t you?”

“Yes, Father.” Sarah glanced at the butler, who gave her a twinkling glance, and her stomach knotted, her heart pounded.

Alex touched her arm. “You haven’t touched your pudding.”

Sarah read laughter in his gaze, and had to steel herself against running  from the table.

“Here, have a bite.” He seized her fork and cut off a generous mouthful of pudding, then held it up for her.

Face heating, Sarah sprang to her feet. “I don’t want pudding. I want to see everyone finding the charms I made certain they’d receive.”

Everyone looked shocked that anyone dared interfere with the discovery of plum pudding charms—everyone except for Alex and Geoffrey. They started laughing so hard the bite of pudding slid off the fork in Alex’s hand and plopped onto the white linen tablecloth. The pudding fell apart to reveal the tiny silver ring.

“Hurray!” Rebecca clapped her hands. “God anthwered my prayer. Tharie will get married this year.”

Alex turned serious. “I certainly hope so.”

“Oh, you!” Sarah spun on her heel and fled with a cacophony of laughter and exclamations running behind her.

She barely reached the nearest refuge, the winter parlor, before she heard footfalls behind her and felt a hand drop onto her shoulder, stopping her. “Wait,” Alex said.

She faced him, shaking. “Why? So you can make more of a fool of me?”

Alex met her glare with a challenging gaze. “More of a fool than what you’ve been making of me for the past three years?”

“What?”

“Sarah, everyone in the county knows I love you except for you.” He clasped her hands between his. “You treat me like I’m poison.”

“You are as dangerous as poison if anyone gets too close.” When he kept gazing at her in silence, she plunged. “You love every female so much you don’t love any of us. My Christmas prayer was for  God to keep you away tonight.”

“But God has other plans for us.” He took her hands in his. “What better time than Christmas to remember that He knows what we need more than we do?”

Sarah frowned. “And you claim God believes I need you?”

Alex grinned. “You wouldn’t care if I were here if you didn’t love me.”

“Oh—”

He kissed her before she could say more.

She still said nothing because he’d stolen her breath.

“And I went through a great deal of trouble to ensure you got the ring.” His eyes pleaded with her. “Doesn’t that count toward you believing I love you?”

“It’s cheating—”  Blushing, she began to laugh. “If I’m the only lady you’d do that for…”

“The only one. A match made in”—he kissed her again, his lips sweet from the confection he’d been eating at the table—”pudding.”

Gerard’s red and black scarf

Gerard's scarf211

Camy/Camille here! As I write this blog post, I’m working on finishing “The Spinster’s Christmas,” a new Regency romance short novel that will be included in the upcoming Inspy Kisses anthology, Mistletoe Kisses. The anthology features 7 other authors with me and includes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance stories.

It was absolutely fascinating to research Christmas in the Regency, and especially kissing boughs. 🙂 There is a scene where the house party goes skating, and my heroine, Miranda, has lost her scarf (in an earlier scene). The hero, Gerard, gallantly gives her his scarf, which is knit in red and black.

Knitting patterns were called receipts because they were literally received from someone, passed down from generation to generation. There is a receipt of a Gentleman’s Comforter in the book, The Ladies’ Knitting and Netting Book, First Series by Miss Watts, originally published in 1837. You can download the .pdf of the Fifth Edition, with additions, which was published in 1840.

I am fairly certain that although this knitting book, one of the first of its kind, was published after the Regency era, the patterns were probably much in use during the Regency period and perhaps even in the Georgian era before that. The patterns simply were passed from friends and families by word of mouth or hand-written patterns.

I based my hero’s scarf after this Gentleman’s Comforter pattern, although I embellished it a bit by having it knit in red and black rather than a single color. Here’s the original pattern from the book:

Gentleman's Comforter from Watts-Ladies' Knitting and Netting Book 1st series

I am going to knit this! It looks to be made with very fine yarn, probably lace weight or fingering weight yarn. My yarn is ordered and I’ll be posting my progress. I’ll also rewrite the original pattern to make it easier for today’s knitters. 🙂

Want to knit this with me? Let me know!

Update: Part 2 is here!

mistletoe_lowresMistletoe Kisses is available for $0.99 only until November 30th! Preorder your copy today!

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Christmas Regency fiction – Is there any? by Susan Karsten

Hi, all!

When the topic of Christmas and other holidays in regency genre books came up, I merely opened the hutch of my escritoire (regency for desk) and pulled out four collections (see below)

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These are not CBA (inspirational) fiction, but rather ABA (general market, not inspirational, and probably a little racy).

I hope our inspy Regency genre grows to the point where collections like the above will be highly sought-after and we will have a chance to have a chance for our faith-filled novella  to be published in such a collection.

What do you like best about Christmas-set fiction?

Please give an answer in a comment.

Susan Karsten