I just returned home after a whirlwind trip to Memphis to see my daughter in her first University of Memphis production. Very exciting—I hadn’t seen her except thru Skype since August. We had a great, if short, visit and now I’m looking forward to her return home for Christmas.
Christmas is literally just around the corner. And I am pushing myself to finish and release a Christmas novella that I’ve been working on for two years now. It’s called Beneath the Mistletoe, and is a sweet Regency full of Christmas traditions from two hundred years ago. And therein lies the rub with the book: Christmas during the Regency period was not at all like the Christmas celebrations we have today.
While doing my research, I found out that most of our current ideas about how to celebrate Christmas originated in the Victorian era, or were simply not fashionable during the Regency. The use of a Christmas tree, for example, comes from Germany and Queen Charlotte introduced it at the palace beginning in 1800. The tradition did not catch on, however, until Victoria’s reign.
Which made writing about a Regency Christmas a bit more challenging. I found the celebrants of a Regency Christmas often had house parties during Christmastide and decorated with greenery, including a ball of mistletoe. Couples would kiss under the ball (on the cheek unless they were planning on getting married) and then cut one of the little white balls off the larger mass of mistletoe. Once all the white balls were gone, the mistletoe ball was spent.
I’m using this tradition to form the basis of my story:
Miss Jenny Crowley, upon turning eighteen, is informed that instead of having her long awaited Season in London, she is to marry to Alexander Isley, the neighbor’s son whom she grew up with. When Jenny protests she will not marry Alec, her aunt invites her to a Christmas house party for a Christmas season where she can meet eligible young men and hopefully fall in love. Jenny enjoys the new Christmas traditions at her aunt’s home, especially those surrounding the mistletoe ball. She’s very attracted to the dashing Lord Somersby and is contemplating receiving her first kiss under the mistletoe from him. When Alec puts in an appearance, however, suddenly all bets are off as the two men square off in hopes of winning her affection beneath the mistletoe.
Beneath the Mistletoe is a much expanded and changed version of my original short, short story, ‘Tis the Season, available now in my Christmas collection All Wrapped Up on Amazon. You can look for Beneath the Mistletoe in late November/early December.