The music of the brook is hushed, Its restless motion stilled; The leaves are faded, fallen, crushed, The air with frost is filled; The leafless trees look strange and lone, And wildly toss their arms and moan.
The black-bird's notes of sturdy cheer From out the tree-tops ring; To drape the earth the clouds draw near, A fleecy garment bring. And wrapped in folds of purest white, We bid the dear old year "Good-night."
—Sarah E. Howard Good Housekeeping, December 8, 1888, p. 65.
Had I power to give to you Many a rich and costly gem, Fit, in brilliancy of hue, To adorn a diadem, I'd bestow the jewels rare On some other friend less dear, While for you I'd breathe a prayer, Such as I do offer here.
Many a merry Christmas, friend, Health, contentment, joy and bliss; More delights in thought I send Than I can convey in this. With the now departing year May your cares and sorrows cease; May the new one, drawing near, Bring you happiness and peace.
—S. Conant Foster Outing and The Wheelman, 1883, p. 292.
"Among all the days we celebrate Christmas stands first and foremost in our thoughts, the holiday of holidays. Coming in the season of frost and snow it brings a cheering warmth to our hearts that defies the icy atmosphere, and the feeling of kindliness and good will toward everyone, which it awakens, seems in response to the words the angels sang on our first Christmas, "On earth peace, good will toward man."... Though we are Americans, our ancestors came from many lands, and we therefore have a right and claim to any custom we may admire in other countries. We may take our Christmas celebrations from any people who observe the day and combining many, evolve a celebration which in its variety will be truly American." —Lina Beard and Adelia Beard. "The American Girls' Handy Book" 1895. pp. 317-318.
Now bring us some... FIG PUDDING Plymouth Union Cook Book, 1894. p. 86.
"One pound of figs cut fine, imported ones are best but dried domestic ones will answer, one and a half pounds of bread crumbs, one-half pound chopped suet [vegetarian alternative: 8 oz coconut oil, melted and mixed into bread crumbs], twelve ounces moist sugar [brown sugar], a little nutmeg [1 tsp.], two eggs, one teacup of milk. Mix all together and steam four hours [in a pudding bag]."
HARD SAUCE for puddings Plymouth Union Cook Book, 1894. p.98 "Beat one egg and half a cup of sugar until very light, then add two tablespoons of softened butter; beat until it will stay piled on a plate; grate in a little nutmeg and put in a very cold place until served."
Ginger Drop Cakes The Ladies' Society of the Plymouth Congregational Church. Plymouth Union Cook Book, Los Angeles, California: Rostrum Publishing Company, 1894. p. 74. "Put two tablespoons of hot water and two tablespoons of melted butter in a cup, and fill with molasses. Add two cups of flour, not heaped, and one even teaspoon of soda, with all kinds of spices. The black molasses is the best for these. Drop on buttered tins and bake."
White Fruit Cake By Mrs. W.S. Standish, Plymouth Union Cook Book, 1894. pp. 56-57.
"Stir to a cream one pound of butter and one pound of powdered sugar. Add the beaten yolks of twelve eggs, one pound of flour and two teaspoons of baking powder. Grate one cocoanut, blanch and chop one-half pound of almonds, and slice one-half pound of citron, stir into the stiffly beaten white of the eggs and add to the batter. Put in pan lined with buttered paper, and bake slowly two hours."
CRANBERRY SAUCE (WHOLE) From Catering for Two, by Alice L. James. G.P. Putnam's Sons: New York and London. (no date) p. 178
"Pick over and wash two cupfuls of fine cranberries. Put them in an earthen dish, pour over a cup of sugar, add a cupful of boiling water, cover, and cook gently nearly an hour. Serve hot or cold."
Christmas in Chetzemoka…
"…The party with the cycling club on Christmas Eve was quite a joyous occasion, was it not? Such a fine tree the Simmons had up at Mr. Hayes' house! Even in Germany I never saw such an enormous Christmas tree. But then, I lived in a large city in my homeland, and trees are so plentiful here in Washington Territory. What was it Ken said about Christmas trees, "The bigger the better"? I'm sure it was something like that. The games which Addie Simmons had us play were all new to me. I found "Ready Rhyme" very difficult. I confess that I did not like it much —although, my dear schoolteacher, you are probably correct in saying that it was good practice for my English. You have always been so very calm in helping me find the proper words when I falter. I suppose you take pity on this stumbling man, and for that I am grateful to you. The "Aviary" game was quite amusing, when we all secretly marked ourselves down as birds on slips of paper then, from the list of bird names read out by Dr. Brown, chose to which bird we would give our heart, to which we would tell a secret, and from which we would pluck a feather. Did you guess that I had chosen the cormorant when you said you would give that bird your heart?…" —Excerpted from Delivery Delayed, Book IV in the Tales of Chetzemoka
The games which the club plays at the Christmas party in the story are taken from a real book of 19th-century parlor games, and the instructions are included in Delivery Delayed's appendix. Here's a sneak peek at them for your holiday enjoyment. Have fun!
"Ready Rhyme", pp. 257—258: "This game should not be attempted by very young players, as it most likely would prove tedious to many of them; but to those who are fond of exercising their ingenuity, it will prove very amusing. Two, four, or more words, are written on paper, and given to each player: the words must be such as would rhyme together; thus, suppose the party have chosen "near, clear, dell, bell," all endeavor to make a complete verse, of which the words given shall compose the rhyme. When all are ready, the papers must be thrown in a heap, and read aloud, and those who have not succeeded must be fined, the fine being the recital of a piece of poetry, or any of the numerous forfeits we give in another place. One of the papers might be read thus:
A gentle brook was murmuring near, Afar was heard the tinkling bell, And peaceful zephyrs, pure and clear, Refreshed us in that shady dell.
Another would be quite different:
Fairies in the distant dell, As they drink the waters clear, From the yellow cowslip bell, What have they to heed or fear?""
"The Aviary", pp. 206—207, "A keeper is first chosen, and then all the company assume the names of different birds, which they communicate to the keeper, but do not make known to each other. The keeper then sets down the names of the players, with that of the birds they severally represent, lest he should make any mistake, and opens the game in a bombastic strain, somewhat similar to the following:-- "Beautiful ladies and brave gentlemen. Regardless of toil, trouble, or expense, I have collected together the most magnificent aviary ever seen in this or any other part of the habitable globe. My birds are distinguished by the beauty of their plumage, form, and color; the melody of their voices, and their general intelligence." He then repeats the names of the birds thought upon, and expresses his desire to know which of his birds are objects of affection or antipathy to the company. Turning to the nearest lady, he says-- "To which of my birds will you give your heart?" "To which will you reveal your secret?" "From which will you pluck a feather?" The lady may probably reply-- "I will give my heart to the eagle. "I will tell my secret to the nightingale." "I will pluck a feather from the owl." The keeper makes a note of these dispositions, and then addresses the same questions to a gentleman, who may reply-- "I will give my heart to the dove." "I will tell my secret to the lark." "I will pluck a feather from the bird of paradise." When any player says he will give his heart to a bird named by another for the same gift, or which is not in the keeper's list, he must pay a forfeit, and make a new choice; and, if he makes a similar mistake a second time, he must pay another forfeit. The game being one solely depending upon memory, the players must pay great attention to the list of birds, when read by the keeper, and to the choice of those who speak first. When all have answered, the keeper announces the names of the persons represented by the birds, and commands each to salute the bird to which his or her heart was given,—to whisper a secret to the one thought worthy of such confidence, and receive a forfeit from the one whose feather was plucked. The players are forbidden to give their hearts or secrets to themselves, under penalty of a forfeit, or desire to pluck their own feathers under a penalty of two."
All of the novels in the Tales of Chetzemoka series contain appendices that include backstories, historical sources, and more. Starting with Book II (Love Will Find A Wheel) and continuing on through the rest of the series, these appendices also contain 19th-century recipes for the foods mentioned in the stories, transcribed from our antique Victorian cookbooks. Here are some pictures of a few of the yummy Victorian treats shared by our Chetzemoka friends —enjoy!
Waffles "…There was a huge platter of waffles on the sideboard in the dining room, along with a jug of hot maple syrup, a pot of strong coffee, cream thick enough to cut, and enough bacon to satisfy a lumberjack. Silas sat at the head of the table, glowering at all the rich food from over his oatmeal and toast water…" —--Love Will Find A Wheel Book II in the Tales of Chetzemoka Buy the book
Macaroni à la crème "…I was looking for you. The club's having dinner at our place tonight and I would love it if you could join us. I'm making macaroni à la crème! Enough for an army —which means that by the time my brother and Felix take their share, the rest of us might actually get to eat, too!"…"--Delivery Delayed, Book IV in the Tales of Chetzemoka Buy the Book
With Christmas cheer the hall is bright, At friendly feud with winter's cold; There's many a merry game to-night For maids and men, the young and old; And winter sends for their delight The holly with its crimson glow, And paler than the glistening snow The mistletoe, the mistletoe. The mistletoe! The mistletoe! The wan and wanton mistletoe!
Chance comer to our festal eyes, Dear crimson-breasted holly-sprite! Thee, Robin, too, the hall receives, Unbidden, whom our hearts invite. And perched among the crumply leaves, He cocks his head and sings, Hullo! The mistletoe, the mistletoe Hangs up above, but what's below? Oh! What's below the mistletoe? The mistletoe, the mistletoe!
A kindly custom sanctions bliss That's ta'en beneath the wanton bough. Who laughs so low? Why, here it is! Look, Jenny, where I have you now! Dear bashful eyes! Sweet lips —a kiss! Ah! Cheeks can mock the holly's glow! For what's below the mistletoe? Ah! Ha! Why, it is Cupid O! Ah! Ha! Below the mistletoe 'Tis Cupid O! 'Tis Cupid O! —H.C. Temple Bar. January, 1893, p. 22.
Just when the room is getting dark And the night wind whistles low, The children gather around the fire All in a merry row. Noon's the time for the bubbles light, And tops may spin at morn, But just when the twilight shadows fall Is the time to pop the corn. See it! Hear it! Pop! Pop! Pop! Hippity! Skippity! Hop! Hop! Hop! Dolls and hoops may do for morn, But night's the time to pop the corn.
Golden grains in your hands you hold, But into the pan they go, And quick as a wink the wizard Heat Will turn them all to snow. Shake them up with a steady hand Over the firelight bright, Then turn them out into the big brown bowl In their fluted caps of white See them! Hear them! Pop! Pop! Pop! Hippity! Skippity! Hop! Hop! Hop! Kites and tops may do for morn, But night's the time to pop the corn. —Angelina W. Wray The Ladies' World, December, 1896, p. 14.