Hearts Through History Romance Writers

The Christmas Dog

From The Terrific Record and Chronicle of Remarkable and Interesting Events, Saturday, February 10, 1849, No. 1, a touching Christmas story:

There were once two families in England who were very close, counting one another among their closest friends. The London family made it a habit each year to spend Christmas at the home of the other family, who lived in Guildford. Every year, they journeyed into Surrey from London, their dog Caesar, a large spaniel, trotting before their carriage.

For seven years the two families would keep the holiday in this manner, the London family arriving on Christmas Eve and departing a few days later–that is, until a quarrel arose between them. Then all correspondence between them ceased and the customary Christmas invitation for that year was withheld. Christmas Dogs

“About an hour before dinner, on the day before Christmas-day, the Guildford gentleman, standing at his window, exclaimed to his wife–‘Well, my dear! The W_____’s have thought better of it; for I declare here comes Caesar to announce them!’ and the dog came trotting up to the door, and was admitted to the parlour, as usual.”

With joy, the house in Guildford was quickly made ready to receive the London family–fires lit throughout, beds made, Cook bustling in the kitchen to prepare a dinner. However, their London friends did not arrive and the dinner grew cold.

After several days, the exact duration his family always stayed, Caesar left Guildford and returned safely to his home in London.

The sagacity of dogs was well-known, in both London and Guildford. However, this fresh demonstration of man’s best friend’s understanding of time was a remarkable event, such that,

“The correspondence which of necessity occurred, had the happy effect of renewing the intercourse of the estranged friends.”

Happy Holidays!






The History of the Nutcracker Ballet

Postcard of ballerina Olga Preobrajenskaya as the Sugarplum Fairy with Nikolai Legat as Prince Coqueluche in the Imperial Ballet's original production of the Nutcracker.

Postcard of ballerina Olga Preobrajenskaya as the Sugarplum Fairy with Nikolai Legat as Prince Coqueluche in the Imperial Ballet’s original production of the Nutcracker.

One of our family holiday traditions when I was a child was to attend the Nutcracker Ballet every year. I first took my daughter to see the Nutcracker when she was three years old. Perhaps it was a bit early, but at the time she was taking a dance class and loved Angelina Ballerina, and sure enough, she was enthralled from the moment the curtain opened. So began our annual tradition of attending the Nutcracker each Christmas season.

My daughter is now ten and dance is still her favorite activity. After attending a performance of the Nutcracker last week, she started asking questions about its history, so we decided to do a little research. The Nutcracker Ballet was first performed at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia on December 17, 1892. I am lucky to have attended both an opera and a ballet at the theater, so I dug through some old albums and boxes and was able to find a ticket and a picture to share with her.  (Historical Note: The Mariinsky Theatre became the property of the state in 1917. In 1920 it began to be called the State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, and in 1935 it was renamed after Sergei Mironovich Kirov. On January 16, 1992, the theatre’s historic name was restored and it became the Mariinsky Theatre once again). (more…)

Twelve Days of Christmas

By Anna Kathryn Lanier

Okay, here’s a pet peeve of mine….those who don’t know when the twelve days of Christmas are. These days I’m seeing all sorts of references to the Twelve Days of Christmas. Between now and Christmas: get free books, recipes, or enter a contest. The only problem is that NOW is not the Twelve Days of Christmas. They are not the twelve days BEFORE Christmas. They are the twelve days AFTER Christmas. This mixed-up reference, is to me, as maddening as those who object to Christmas decorations before Halloween. We are putting one celebration before another.

Part of this confusion comes from people who are not part of a liturgical church tradition. This is not a bad thing, it’s just a misunderstanding of when and what the Twelve Days are all about. The churches that follow a liturgical year (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost) have set the time-line for the celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas….the Christmas season, which is from December 25th through January 5th, the day before the Epiphany or the traditional day of celebration for the visit of the Three Kings to the baby Jesus. 


When will Christmas be over?

Heaped up upon the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam.

–Stave Three, the Second of the Three Spirits — A Christmas Carol

This beloved work of Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) was written in 1843 when Twelfth Night was still the primary winter holiday in England.  January 6th, and not December 25th, was the focus of the Season.  Christmas Day was a very simple, almost unnoticed affair when church services were the highlight of the day.  In contrast, Twelfth Night involved feasting, games and the traditional cake–an elaborate affair that contained a dried bean and a dried pea.  Their discovery conferred royalty status on the finders, even if they were ordinary servants. 


Prettige kerstdagen en een gelukkig nieuwjaar

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I receive several Christmas cards with this greeting every year. My husband’s family is from the Netherlands, and we receive Christmas cards from many of his aunts, uncles, and cousins this time of year.

The first Christmas card was commissioned in 1843 but Sir Henry Cole. There were 2,050 printed and they sold for a shilling. These first Christmas cards didn’t depict Christmas. The images were of spring, children, and animals. The saying on the cards: wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

In 1875 Louis Prang was the first printer to offer cards in America. These were very intricate and beautiful cards. But they were soon pushed aside by postcards that were easier to make and cheaper to send. By the 1920’s the card and envelope greetings came back into style.

As world events came along they would be depicted in the cards of that year.

The first “official” Christmas card began in the 1840’s when Queen Victoria send cards with portraits of the royal family at events. Later in 1953 President Dwight Eisenhower sent the first “official” White House Christmas card.

I’ve become one of the “newsletter” Christmas card senders. I write up a newsletter on the computer, print it out, and send it. But I love getting cards especially from other countries.

Do you send Christmas cards or letters? Do you get ones from other countries? If so what countries?

Because I love giving and it ’tis the season’- If you leave a comment you’re name will be entered to win a box of western themed Christmas cards and one of my books.


Paty Jager