Tuesday, December 29, 2009
What did your characters get for Christmas?
Vickie McDonough created a great post over at Bustles and Spurs - Christmas Shopping in 1897. where she pretended to be a 10 year old girl with $10 to spend on her family for Christmas. She shares the gift selections that she has chosen out of a Sears & Roebuck's catelog. What an interesting post and so much fun!
It got me thinking about what kind of gifts the characters from my wip Hope Springs Eternal would exchange for Christmas. The story is set in 1816, Maine, during the year there was no summer.
Many people did not celebrate Christmas until later in the 19th century, especially those from New England that still held conservative puritain values. There were; however, those who brought Christmas traditions from the old country. The Cates family celebrated a simple Christmas and shared thoughtful gifts with one another. During the harsh winter they had to be very creative with the gifts they gave. In stark contrast to their want, they blessed each other abundantly. Their thoughtfulness to one another becomes a catalyst hope.
My characters include the protagonist, Rachel Atwood, an English woman settled in rural Maine following the War of 1812. After she becomes a widow and loses her baby she becomes a wet nurse for the infant son of Josiah Cates, an outdoorsman. They have taken Rachel in following an injury and all live in the home of his mother.
Josiah to Rachel - Rabbit fur muff, return of her Bible
Josiah made a muff from the fur of a rabbit that he hunted, it is also lined in rabbit fur. This will keep her hands nice and warm in the cold. He also found her missing Bible and returned it to her on Christmas day.
Josiah to Mother Cates - Maple sugar molds
Josiah hand carved a new wooden maple sugar mold for his mother.
Rachel had her aunt in England send some pigments for Goody Cates to mix paints so she could do her tole painting again. Rachel asked Josiah if he could make her some new brushes which he did by whittling wooden handles and making squirrel tail bristles.
Rachel to Josiah - Book
Rachel has a treasured book that belonged to her father. The book, Wild Animals of the Bible, was written by a famous naturalist friend of her father's and is a priceless keepsake of hers.
Seeing the need for the baby to have more blankets and belongings, as a sacrifice of her heart she offers precious items that had belonged to her own baby.
Mother Cates to Rachel - Hope Chest
Rachel's hope is waining in the bitter winter months. Josiah's mother offers Rachel her own treasured hope chest as a symbol of hope for Rachel.
Mother Cates gives her last living son an early inheritance . . . her homestead, the garrison house that his great grandfather built. This was the first Christmas that it was just she, her son, and new grandson so she felt it was an appropriate time for this gift.
What would your characters give one another for Christmas?