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2018/19 Group Reads - Archives > Christmas Around the World: United States

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message 1: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  Paullin | 749 comments Mod
United States - Christmas; or, The Good Fairy (1850) by Harriet Beecher Stowe

What a gift to have first appeared on the front page of the Washington, DC newspaper, National ERA on December 26, 1850. Harriet Beecher Stowe's story reminds us of the importance of carefully considering just the right gift for each recipient and the joy of seeing their appreciation.


message 2: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2205 comments Mod
This was fascinating! I wouldn't have thought that gift giving was already so commercialized in 1850. The sentiment could apply as well today. I like how she added a bit of humor to the message.


message 3: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
I had never read this author before, and thoroughly enjoyed this story. Not only does it speak to choosing the appropriate gift for people, but also to share what you have with those less fortunate. With some much negativity in our world, it’s good to be reminded to give back. It doesn’t have to be expensive or large to be appreciated and helpful. So think about making a food donation to a food pantry or animal shelter. Baked goods for an elderly neighbor who can no longer bake for themselves, and the like. If we all did this, what an impact would be paid. Yet it’s important to remember each small act does have a big impact for the recipient.


message 4: by Mark (last edited Dec 16, 2018 02:52PM) (new)

Mark André Besides lights music best helps me find my Christmas spirit. - )
Two favorites:
https://youtu.be/gjCthWw_VyA
.https://youtu.be/vN5_481hImM


message 5: by Trev (new)

Trev | 338 comments Deborah wrote: "I had never read this author before, and thoroughly enjoyed this story. Not only does it speak to choosing the appropriate gift for people, but also to share what you have with those less fortunate..."

I endorse everything you have written. Our challenge, perhaps, is to give as much or more to those we don't know (who may be in need) as we give to our friends and family at Christmas. My wife's friend creates all her Christmas gifts using her knitting/crocheting (etc) skills. For a every article she gives to her friends and family, she also makes one to give to the local homeless charity. The giving need not be money or material things but could be time or skills, which might improve their lives, especially at Christmas.

I enjoyed Mark's choice of Christmas music. Here are two favourites of my own.

https://youtu.be/EDc2FD-vy8M - a live recording of my favourite version.

https://youtu.be/bcqF0H2WSBM - a very recent version and now my favourite.


message 6: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
Trev wrote: "Deborah wrote: "I had never read this author before, and thoroughly enjoyed this story. Not only does it speak to choosing the appropriate gift for people, but also to share what you have with thos..."

I agree about giving back. I’ve chosen to give back each week. I volunteer at a cat shelter, and have for not quite 6 years. 😺


message 7: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2894 comments Mod
That is great, Deborah. 😻


message 8: by Mark (last edited Dec 17, 2018 07:57AM) (new)

Mark André I run my own cat sanctuary. We have 8 rescued strays living in the house, and two that live out side (no room at the inn) under the back porch. Plus I feed the neighbor's cat. I can't stand to see hungry, desperate animals; and, yes, it does make me feel good. - )


message 9: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2894 comments Mod
That is wonderful, Mark. 😻


message 10: by Mark (new)

Mark André Thank you, Rosemarie! - )
It's expensive, but fun.


message 11: by Jo (new)

Jo (deronda) | 87 comments Although the story was a little too preachy for my taste, and the writing was nothing special, I enjoyed it as well.
Very heartwarming. It reminded me of Little Women and how the girls mused about the things they want for themselves for Christmas, and the food and support they decide to give to the poor. (I'm referring to the movie from 1994, I didn't like the book half as much) A simple orange must have been considered a luxury in the States back then ...


message 12: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
Jo wrote: "Although the story was a little too preachy for my taste, and the writing was nothing special, I enjoyed it as well.
Very heartwarming. It reminded me of Little Women and how the girls mused about..."


Oranges were very expensive. They were a special treat. There was a tradition in the US at that time to receive an orange as part of your Christmas gift


message 13: by Jo (new)

Jo (deronda) | 87 comments That's interesting, Deborah. I didn't know about this tradition, but I had imagined that they were expensive. Partly because of the way Beecher Stowe talks about them, and partly because of the 'orange scenes' in Little Women that I remember so vividly.


message 14: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
Jo wrote: "That's interesting, Deborah. I didn't know about this tradition, but I had imagined that they were expensive. Partly because of the way Beecher Stowe talks about them, and partly because of the 'or..."

My mother insisted we each receive an orange in our stocking carrying on the tradition. Growing up in New England lots of historical places to visit and learn. My mom passed many years ago, but I still put an orange in each stocking. The tradition may die out with me.


message 15: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2894 comments Mod
I enjoyed this story. It has a good message but isn't too preachy.


message 16: by Jo (new)

Jo (deronda) | 87 comments I also used to get a orange in my stocking on Saint Nicholas Day. I have a feeling that this tradition is dying out here in Germany, too - or rather, that children receive more fancy things nowadays. But I'm not sure.


message 17: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2894 comments Mod
We used to put a Terry's chocolate orange in our daughter's stockings. Now that they are both parents too, I give each of them a box of Terry's dark chocolate orange for Christmas.
I grew up in a small town in the early 60s. We would get a bag of candy from the town Santa and each bag had a bunch of candy and an orange at the bottom.


message 18: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
More info on Christmas oranges

https://www.thekitchn.com/heres-why-w...


message 19: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1369 comments Mod
Well, I'll have to get some oranges for the stockings. It's very easy here in Florida :-)


message 20: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2205 comments Mod
I've heard that the golden apple in Greek mythology was actually an orange. The goddesses compete for it and that starts the Trojan war according to the Iliad (as well as Helen's beauty, so women get the blame all round!)


message 21: by Wendel (new)

Wendel (wendelman) | 229 comments What I will remember: "Say no more, aunt!" 🤶


message 22: by LiLi (new)

LiLi | 277 comments Jo, the orange in the stocking still seems to be going strong as a Flemish tradition on Sinterklaasdag.


message 23: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1870 comments Mod
Jo wrote: "I also used to get a orange in my stocking on Saint Nicholas Day. I have a feeling that this tradition is dying out here in Germany, too - or rather, that children receive more fancy things nowaday..."

We still put a Terry's Chocolate Orange, an orange and an apple in everyone's stocking-had no idea the tradition was so widespread! (we're in Canada)


message 24: by Alicia (new)

Alicia Riley | 40 comments Chocolate Orange! Yummy!

I think we need to bring back orange as Christmas gifts.


message 25: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
Alicia wrote: "Chocolate Orange! Yummy!

I think we need to bring back orange as Christmas gifts."


Well then come to my house for Christmas. Each guest gets a Christmas stocking that contains an orange 😀


message 26: by Jo (new)

Jo (deronda) | 87 comments It seems as if I've successfully derailed yet another thread with my mention of oranges :D
Joking apart - I love reading everyone's anecdotes and learning about different traditions.
@Alicia: I second that!
@Elizabeth: Interesting. Apparently in our countries (Belgium, Germany, Netherlands ...) Christmas stockings are hung up or shoes are put out on St. Nick's Day while it's more of an actual Christmas tradition in the USA. Am I mistaken?


message 27: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
Jo wrote: "It seems as if I've successfully derailed yet another thread with my mention of oranges :D
Joking apart - I love reading everyone's anecdotes and learning about different traditions.
@Alicia: I se..."


Stockings are hung in the US on Christmas Eve to be filled but Santa Claus. And you didn’t derail the discussion. After all the oranges were in the story.


message 28: by LiLi (new)

LiLi | 277 comments No, you're right that in Belgium it's actually a shoe. We also have a mass for Sint Hubert (patron saint of the hunt) the first Sunday of December, called Jachthoornmis. It appears this mass is also done in France. With the chorus of hunting horns in old-fashioned dress, it seems to give a start to the season.

Most American families hang the stocking on Christmas Eve for Santa; but some celebrate/open presents on Christmas Eve, which would probably necessitate putting out the stocking earlier. Santa always put lots of nuts and dried fruits in our stocking for Christmas, but I initiated the orange in the toe after reading about it in a book.


message 29: by Jo (new)

Jo (deronda) | 87 comments Thanks, Deborah and Elizabeth. It seems that I learn something new about Christmas traditions in different countries every year. But that's fantastic, especially because so many traditions are dying out in our increasingly digital world.

Sorry for the late response, by the way.


message 30: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2894 comments Mod
I am glad you enjoyed the stories.


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