Something old, something new... I suppose that's a different context, but of course all three Christmastide novellas in the Mistletoe Kisses and Yuletide Joy
collection end in marriage.
I created a "boxed set" partly because I like the visual of a boxed set for e-books, which have no physical form, but also because Christmas and boxes go together, don't they?
So where does the term Christmas Box come from?
The earliest reference I could find was from 1673 to a begging box with a slit on the side or top to receive money. The main reference was a translation from the French term for a box used by mendicant friars, but there's a reference to a similar thing being used by lads and servants. The word "Christmas" suggests that the writer means mummers or waits at Christmas.
A reference from a 1679 trial makes it clear again that it was money, though in this case there was no box involved. It was simple a small gift of money to a servant just before Christmas.
A 1720 description of an antiquity says, "which Pot I presented to the Royal Society's Repository, it resembles an Apprentice's earthen Christmas-Box
." Again in 1720 we have this verse, which indicates money.
The Landladys are preparing,
Her Maids are shifting their Smocks;
Each swears she'll buy her a Fairing,
And opens her Christmas-box: .
in 1744 I first find something different. "A Christmas box for masters and misses, consisting of stories proper to improve the minds of children
. 6d" A book!
Or better, 1735. "The Merry Medly : Or, A Christmas Box for Gay Gallants, and Good Companions Containing diverting Stories, choice Jokes, dextrous Tricks, droll Dialogues, facetious Fables, humorous Speeches, ludicrous Letters, rare Riddles, pleafant Poems, exquifite Epigrams, and rich Sayings. The Whole fo contrived as to expel the Vapours and drive Melancholy entirely away. In two Vojumes. Price 6s. bound."
I cease my explorations there, but if you have other or later references to gifts as opposed to money, please share.
My Christmas Box
is not, alas, designed to improve the mind of children, but to delight the minds of older people -- though the stories are all subtle enough in their sensuality for delicate sensibilities. Nor can I offer the rich variety of the Merry Medly, though I have added an essay on Christmas in the Regency and some seasonal recipes, old and new.
The three stories are:
A Gift of Light
, a Regency which previously appeared in The Christmas Cat.
The Christmas Wedding Gambit
, another Regency, which has been on my web site for a number of years, and is still there if you want to read it.
Star of Wonder
, a story set in 999 AD, when Viking invasions and dread of the end of the world were shaking England. This was previously titled Day of Wrath in the collection Star of Wonder.
Though I say so myself, this would make a useful small gift or stocking stuffer for someone with an e-reader. If you go to Smashwords
, it's available for any e-reader and you can get a coupon code. Write it in a card, and there you are. Unfortunately, Smashwords doesn't allow 3-D covers, so there's a plain cover on display there.
For Amazon UK, click here.
Just to add, as it's almost Halloween
that I have a Regency ghost story available as an e-book, and set on Lord Samhain's Night, which is also October 31st. I made a short video for that. You can see it here.
In an embarrassment of riches, I also have a story in a Christmas anthology in print or e- and made a video for that. (Can you tell I'm having fun with Animoto?) You can watch the Mischief and Mistletoe one, featuring Sparky the kitten, here.
And, as I won't be back here for a month, on November 1st, the first of my Company of Rogues regency romances, An Arranged Marriage, will go on sale for two weeks at 99c US$ or the equivalent, which is a really good deal. Be prepared to grab. Yes, there's a video!
So, what do you think of the videos? What are your favourite kinds of Christmas stories, and what does "Christmas Box" mean to you?
I'll send one commenter a coupon for a free copy of Mistletoe Kisses and Yuletide Joy.
All best wishes,