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Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

bodfp_smallWhenever I’m at a loss for a topic for this blog, I take a peek at Hillman’s Hyperlinked and Searchable Chambers Book of Days. The Book of Days (or, if you like, the real title: The Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities in Connection with the Calendar, Including Anecdote, Biography, & History, Curiosities of Literature and Oddities of Human Life and Character) was published in 1832 by Robert Chambers, a prolific writer particularly known for his reference books.

The Book of Days is arranged around the calendar, and contains interesting essays and trivia. The original work was printed in two volumes, each 840 pages long. It is an incredible feat of research.

Today’s date in the book contains who was born this date, who died, and the saint whose feast day it was. There was an essay about mermaids and about the “Circe of Carlyle House, Soho Street,” Teresa Cornelys. Mrs. Cornelys ran an upscale Assembly Room where great balls and masquerades were held.

The last essay of November 24 was this one:


The great social and religious festival of New England, from which it has spread to most of the states of the American republic, is a legacy of the Puritans. They abolished Christmas as a relic of popery, or of prelacy, which they held in nearly equal detestation, and passed laws to punish its observance; but, wanting some day to replace it, the colonial assemblies, and, later, the governors of the states, appointed every year some day in autumn, generally toward the end of November, as a day of solemn prayer and thanksgiving for the blessings of the year, and especially the bounties of the harvest.

Thanksgiving day is always celebrated on Thursday, and the same day is chosen in most of the states. The governor’s proclamation appointing the day, is read in all the churches, and there are appropriate sermons and religious exercises. Families, widely scattered, meet at the bountiful thanksgiving dinners of roast turkeys, plum pudding, and mince and pumpkin pies. The evenings are devoted by the young people to rustic games and amusements.

The subjects of the thanksgiving-sermons are not infrequently of a political character, and in the chief towns of the union, those of the most popular preachers are generally published in the newspapers. The thanksgiving festival, though widely celebrated, is Not so universally respected as formerly, as the influx of Roman Catholics and Episcopalians has brought Christmas again into vogue, which is also kept by the Unitarians with considerable solemnity. As a peculiar American festival it will, however, long be cherished by the descendants of the Puritans.

Not a mention of shopping in Chambers’ essay. When you shop on Black Friday, don’t forget to put Megan’s The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior and Susanna’s A Christmas Reunion!

How many of you are planning plum pudding and an evening of rustic games and entertainments this Thursday?

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am recycling a post from  a few years ago when Thanksgiving and the birthday of George Eliot, born November 22, 1819, coincided.

Let us give thanks for George Eliot. Highly literate and educated despite being born into the sort of provincial society she depicts in her novels, she left England at the age of thirty after the death of her parents and traveled in Europe, returning to become a writer for the Westminster Review. Her life was unconventional (she lived out of wedlock with a married man, George Henry Lewes, for years–as she grew in fame and fortune Victorian society accepted the liaison. After Lewes’ death she married a man twenty years her junior; go, girl. And she earned a living as a writer, “coming out” as George Eliot, a name she adopted early in her career.). Interestingly Eliot’s books rarely turn up on lists of “my favorite romance novels” in the company of Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.

Why? Here’s a reason, in her own words:

Marriage, which has been the bourne of so many narratives, is still a great beginning, as it was to Adam and Eve, who kept their honeymoon in Eden, but had their first little one among the thorns and thistles of the wilderness. It is still the beginning of the home epic – the gradual conquest or irremediable loss of that complete union which makes the advancing years as a climax, and age the harvest of sweet memories in common.

Consider Middlemarch, possibly her greatest work, where the emphasis is on the community itself and the burgeoning romances are only part of the big picture. She subverts the marriage of true minds–Lydgate and Dorothea, two peas in a pod of innocence and idealism–and instead pairs them with partners who, in Lydgate’s case, are far their inferior. rsewellAnd Dorothea and Rufus Sewell, oops, Will Ladislaw–well, I can only conclude that he’s great in the sack and has the right sort of politics, certainly nothing to turn up one’s nose at, yet I digress–I’m left feeling that she sacrifices herself to romance. And I certainly think Mary Garth could have done better than Fred Vincy. Of course Eliot was smart enough to know that if she paired up Lydgate and Dorothea, there would be no book; that the troubling and imperfect relationships and their uncertain outcomes makes the book a brilliant masterpiece.

Now I love Daniel Deronda for similar reasons–the relationships aren’t what you think they’re going to be–and there’s no overt happy ending but a huge amount of interwoven complexity. She took the risk of trying to write about a truly good hero–Daniel, making a journey of discovery into his origins, forging his own destiny–and even she couldn’t quite do it. Daniel is really only interesting when he’s suffering, upon rare occasions, some sort of negative feelings–when he acknowledges his own snobbishness in becoming associated with a family of Jewish shopkeepers (oh, the vulgarity! How embarrassingly materialistic they are!). So Daniel is the turkey at the Thanksgiving dinner, handsome to look at, but a bit bland and occasionally dry. The rest of the book–the gravy and yams and cranberries and the rest of the delicious accompaniments, the fabulous secondary characters and their love interests and concerns–is Eliot’s unconventional triumph.

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone.

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I’m sorry I don’t have a Regency-relevant post for today. I’ve been fighting a nasty cold and just remembered it’s my day! So let me tell you about yesterday.

Given my cold, it turned out to be a very good thing that we weren’t going anywhere or hosting anyone for Thanksgiving this year. I was able to have just the kind of Thanksgiving I could enjoy.
I woke up at about 5:30AM, too congested to fall back asleep. So I got up to have some breakfast, tea and meds, and it turned out to be blessing, because I caught this gorgeous sunrise. The photo doesn’t even do it justice.
My daughters and I shared the cooking tasks, so I was able to spend a lot of time resting on the couch and watching the Finding Bigfoot marathon. Sasquatch fascinates me, as do the Loch Ness Monster, crop circles and anything else on the fringes of science and fantasy.
I was very proud of my daughters. My youngest made deviled eggs and the cranberry sauce (so much better than the stuff that comes out of a can).  My oldest baked honey apple pies, using a recipe from my grandmother’s Lithuanian church ladies’ cookbook.
We worked together on the rest of the feast: herb roasted turkey breast with cider gravy (a Rachael Ray recipe), stuffing muffins (also Rachael Ray) and sweet potato and apple casserole from The Best of the Finger Lakes cookbook. We washed it all down with Finger Lakes Riesling and sparkling cider. Yum.
I feel blessed to have had such a lovely day with family.
I hope you had a wonderful day, too.  Did you do anything special?
Posted in Frivolity | Tagged | 6 Replies

This is Thanksgiving week and a time to be thinking of all the things for which we are grateful. I’ve had many blessings in my life. Family and friends are chief among them. I thought it would be fun to look at some “Regency” things that make me grateful.

Thank you for…..

1. Jane Austen.
Without Jane and her wonderful books would this time period be thought of as a setting for romantic historical fiction?
2. Georgette Heyer.
Heyer made the time period come alive. For Jane, the Regency (or late Georgian era, to be specific) was contemporary and it would not have occurred to her to make it part of the appeal of her books. Heyer, writing later, embraced the era and made it come alive with great wit and cleverness.
3. The Drama.
The few short years of the Regency were filled with drama, the fodder of a novelist. With a mad king, a frivolous Prince Regent, social unrest, a war with Napoleon, and even dramatic weather (the year without a summer in 1816; the last Frost Fair in 1814), few eras could compete.

4. The People.
Think of all the larger than life figures who inhabited the Regency: The Duke of Wellington, still revered as a national hero (and by me… and Kristine Hughes). The Prince Regent, almost the polar opposite of Wellington. Lord Sidmouth, the force behind the repression of social protest, Lord Castlereagh, Foreign Secretary who, at the Congress of Vienna, brought peace and order to Europe and who tragically killed himself. Literary people, like Austen, naughty Byron, Shelley, Keats, Sir Walter Scott. Personalities like Harriette Wilson and Beau Brummell. The list goes on.

5. The Beauty.
Beautiful fashions for women, starting in the late Georgian era, stopping short of the excesses of the Victorian era. Beautiful settings – Country houses, Mayfair, the Pavilion in Brighton. Romantic modes of transportation – elegant carriages pulled by matched sets of horses, racy phaetons and gigs, riding horses, ships.
I’ll stop here, although, if I took a little more time, I could probably think of more. I am very thankful that I can “live” in the Regency every day in my writing. I’m thankful that my success has afforded me the ability to keep on writing Regency romance. I’m grateful for those wonderful, loyal readers who still love books set in the Regency. You’ll see more books from me!
Here’s something for which YOU can be grateful! The Harlequin Historical Authors are again hosting a Holiday Contest. In the spirit of an Advent Calendar, there will be daily prizes and a grand prize of a Kindle Fire! More on that next week….
In the meantime, what about the Regency are you most grateful for?
And Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 6 Replies

This is the week we start preparing for our Thanksgiving Day holiday. We generally think of the first Thanksgiving as taking place in Plymouth in 1621, with Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrating out of doors at food-laden tables. This is a very important holiday to us, a commemoration of all the gifts bestowed upon, all the things we are thankful for.

Our Thanksgiving celebrations usually involve a turkey dinner. The wild turkey is actually indigenous to North America, so my question is, did they eat turkey in Regency England?

The answer is YES. The The 16th century English navigator William Strickland introduced turkeys into England. His coat of arms includes a turkey, so it must have been a big deal.

I wondered, if I were a Regency scullery maid (which I’m convinced I must have been in a previous life), what would I see Cook do to prepare a turkey for our lord and lady?

Here’s what The Art of Cookery Made Plain And Easy: Which Far Exceeds Any Thing Of The Kind Yet Published by Hannah Glasse

To Roast a Fowl with Chesnuts.

FIRST take some chesnuts, roast them very carefully, so as not to burn them; take off the skin and peel them; take about a dozen of them cut small, and bruise them in a mortar; parboil the liver of the fowl, bruise it, cut about a quarter of a pound of ham or bacon, and pound it; then mix them all together, with a good deal of parsley chopped small, a little sweet herbs, some mace, pepper, salt, and nutmeg; mix these together and put into your fowl, and roast it. The best way of doing it is to tie the neck, and hang it up by the legs to roast with a string, and baste it with butter. For sauce, take the rest of the chesnuts peeled and skinned; put them into some good gravy, with a little white wine, and thicken it with a piece of butter rolled in flour; then take up your fowl, lay it in the dish, and pour in the sauce. Garnish with lemon.

Hey, my mother-in-law has made chestnut dressing. The dressing in my family is mostly made of bread!

I can’t quite picture the hanging by the feet part.

Here’s one of the traditional Thanksgiving/Christmas dishes that I (who am so-not-a-cook) will make for our Thanksgiving. It is from my husband’s Italian side of the family:

“The Peas”
1 package frozen peas
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce (or a small jar of spaghetti sauce)
1 chopped onion
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
olive oil

In a saucepan, brown the garlic in a little bit of olive oil.
Add the peas, onions, and tomato sauce and stir
Cover and cook on low for about an hour

It is easy. Even I can do it! I’m also making the green bean casserole, but everybody knows how to do that.

For Thanksgiving we’re going to my in-laws in Williamsburg, where Amanda and I stayed when we met with Deb Marlowe to plan The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor. Most of my dh’s side of the family will come and I’m happy because both my son and daughter will be there!

Where are you going for Thanksgiving?
What, if anything, will you be cooking?

Don’t forget to enter Janet’s LOL Regency contest! I sent her my entry.

Come to Diane’s Blog . Today I’m announcing my Thanksgiving winner for the website contest, and on Thursday I have a big exciting Christmas contest to announce!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 15 Replies
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