Deborah Grace Staley | Mountain Traditions, Superstitions, and Old Christmas
January 5, 2014
WHAT THE HEART WANTS Winner
of the HOLT Medallion Is
the January 5 Amazon Deal of the Day Download for only 1.99!
January 6 is Twelfth Night, or Epiphany, if you will. In Upper East Tennessee
where I come from, my momma called it "Old Christmas." There are a couple of
theories regarding Old Christmas. I always heard that Old Christmas was the date
that for centuries had been celebrated as Christmas by Europeans. History bears
this out. It was in 1752 that Britain moved from the Julian calendar to the
Georgian calendar. In doing so, eleven days were eliminated from the year. Thus
making Christmas December 25 instead of January 6. I suppose celebration of the
Twelve Days of Christmas ensued, concluding with the Feast of the Epiphany on
January 6, which in some Christian traditions is thought to be the day that the
Magi arrived to view the Christ child.
Whatever you believe, here's what I remember about Old Christmas. It was bad
luck to do laundry, to wash or iron, on that day. My mother, who always said,
"Now, I'm not superstitious, but..." just before she'd prove that maybe she was.
And washing was not permitted on January 6. She cited a time when her family had
done laundry on this day and later that year, her cousin drowned. Even if she
was not superstitious, this fell into the category of "Don't tempt fate." Don't
do it, just in case.
When I got the idea for the character of Candi Heart in the Angel Ridge series,
I wanted her to be from the mountains. I wanted all those mountain traditions
I'd learned from my momma to be coded into her DNA. I was fascinated by the
Granny Woman tradition. These were women who lived in the mountain communities
of Appalachia who were respected in the community, but feared by outsiders. Some
even called them witches. These women knew things. They knew how to heal with
herbs. They knew how to plant crops by the signs of the moon. They knew other
things, too, like the sex of an unborn child, when someone was going to take
ill, and when others would die. They could tell you when it would be a good time
to travel and when you should stay home.
I remember my mother telling me that people would come to see her mother to "ask
for advice." My grandmother would share a cup of coffee with the visitor, chat a
spell, and then after the coffee had been drunk, she'd turn her visitor's cup
upside down in the saucer. She'd spin it a few times, then gaze at the pattern
made by the coffee grounds in the saucer. Based on this, she'd give her visitor
advice on any number of important and minor matters. I always thought that an
interesting story. I also found it interesting she'd taught my mother all sorts
of home remedies, such as stealing a dishrag, rubbing it on a wart, and then
burying it. This worked for getting rid of the wart. Earaches were cured with
warm sweet oil in the ear and a bit of cotton to hold it in. These and other
similar things were part of my DNA, and my mother's, and her mother's...
So, when I created Candi Heart (not her real name—her real name was Lark
Hensley), I began researching Granny Women. Much to my frustration, there is
next to no information written about them. This is because people in the
mountain cultures just accepted who these women were. People from the outside
who wanted to write about it? Well, most of them found these women suspect. And
anyone who knows anything knows you can't trust outsiders. So, no one talked
about Granny Women. What bits I could find would be a couple of pages in texts
about Appalachian culture or folklore. I'd get so excited when I found
something, I'd stand in the library and read those precious few pages right
there in the stacks. Minutes later, I'd slam the book closed, frustrated because
I already knew what was contained in those pages. I found nothing, let me
repeat, nothing I hadn't already learned from my mother.
Understanding that truth was a light bulb moment for me that led me to pick up
the phone and call my mother. After questioning her about the story of her
mother reading coffee grounds for people, I asked, "Did she really read the
coffee grounds or was that just a prop? Did she already know the answers without
the reading?" At length, my momma admitted this was indeed a prop. At which
point I asked about my great-grandmother. She had always been described to me as
"not right in the head." She'd died after having been bedfast for some time. You
see, I'd read and heard that these Granny Women had been described as "not right
in the head." In fact, it was written into the lyrics of a Dolly Parton song
called, "These Old Bones." And I should add here, the women in my family suffer
from bouts of depression. So, I asked my momma if her grandmother had been one
of these mountain women who'd just known things. At which point she admitted
that she had. Full disclosure, I'd had strong flashes of intuition all my life,
but discounted them. At the end of this and other discussions with my mom, I
realized I come from a long line of women who just knew things. Momma had known
I also had this ability, but never talked to me much about it because she knew I
wasn't ready to accept it.
I'd be lying if I said this thing that's a part of who I am doesn't scare me. I
don't completely understand how it works. I know if someone is on my mind and
I'm dreaming about them, something's up and I need to reach out to them. I know
when I have a particularly vivid dream about something, I need to pay attention.
Like the time my son had a strange looking wound on the back of his hand. I
dreamed he lost his hand the night before we went to the doctor. And guess what?
The doctor told me he could have lost his hand if we had waited to have him
seen. He'd been bitten by a poisonous spider. Now, I can't tell people things on
cue. I'm not a fortuneteller. But I've also learned that you can't tell people
something they're not ready to hear. Dealing with what you know can be a
delicate balance of the knowing and the knowing when to share what you know.
Candi Heart in WHAT THE
HEART WANTS is one of these women like the women in my family. She had vivid
dreams about past events that are unfolding in her present...or are they part of
her past? She just wants to fit into Angel Ridge and open up a shop for women
with all the colorful, soft, frilly things she didn't have growing up in the
gray-green mountains. But when she is almost the victim of a hit and run
incident and her shop is vandalized, it becomes clear that someone doesn't want
her moving to Angel Ridge, much less becoming a business owner. Of course,
Sheriff Grady Wallace will have to step in to investigate and protect the sexy
and mysterious new woman in town.
WHAT THE HEART WANTS,
winner of the HOLT Medallion for Excellence in Single Title/Mainstream Romance,
is the Amazon Daily Deal today, January 5.
Download your copy for only 1.99. Comment on
this blog and include your email address and throughout the day, I will choose
ten names randomly to receive the Kindle Version of the book.
Happy Old Christmas Eve!
Deborah Grace Staley
36 comments posted.
Re: Deborah Grace Staley | Mountain Traditions, Superstitions, and Old Christmas
Wish I could download this book but I do not have any e-readers...I LOVE holding the books! Thanks anyway. I will look for it though.
(Bonnie Capuano 7:57am January 5, 2014)
thank you! firstname.lastname@example.org
(Nancy Krueger 9:06am January 5, 2014)
i cant wait to read this one thanks so much denise smith
(Denise Smith 9:30am January 5, 2014)
I don't own an e-reader, either, but would love to read this book!! Although I'm not that old, I never buried dishrags to dig up again and treat warts, but I have used sweet oil in my ears, as well as others, to treat earaches!! As for that 6th sense, I have a touch of that, too!! One day, for example, I was on the phone with my Girlfriend. Out of the blue, I said to her to "be careful." She told me that she was just staying home that night and fixing dinner. Later that night, I received a call back from her, letting me know that she had just got back from emergency. While she was cutting up vegetables for dinner, she slipped with the knife, and cut her finger open bad enough where she had to go to the hospital for stitches!! It's not the first time I have warned someone about something before, and it's sort of scary, but I've learned to embrace it and use it on those that will accept my advice. That's about all you can do under the circumstances. Your book sounds really good, and I wish that you would have given the winner a choice of hard copy or e-book.
(Peggy Roberson 9:43am January 5, 2014)
We have "those women" in my family too. I also remember the oil I'm my
ear with the cotton balls and other seemingly strange cures. But they work.
I can't wait to read this you have me hooked.
(Patti Paonessa 11:34am January 5, 2014)
I'm anxious to read this book and I do have a Kindle. Thanks for giving us a chance to win.
(Anna Speed 1:32pm January 5, 2014)
Grandmothers are wonderful. I remember the mustard plasters, socks filled and heated with salt. Yikes , makes you not want to tell gramdma if you have an ear ache or getting a chest cold.
(Barbara Wells 1:34pm January 5, 2014)
I have always been fascinated by the stories you describe.
Don't believe that I am particularly intuitive myself, though.
(G. Bisbjerg 1:40pm January 5, 2014)
Can't wait to read. I had a really great Grandmother,she had lots of cures that ail you. Thanks for a chance to win your book.
(Linda Hall 1:41pm January 5, 2014)
I also have a kindle. Sounds like a great read. email@example.com
(Denise Austin 1:41pm January 5, 2014)
looks good,looks good
(Kent Cook 2:08pm January 5, 2014)
I loved your blog. My momma was Irish and called Jan. 6th little Christmas. Our Christmas tree stayed up thru the 6th, then all the decorations were put away for another year. I still hold on to this tradition. Of course, this year we didn't put the tree up until Dec. 22 - and only had light(white came on the tree) a silver star and 48 candy canes (varying flavors) that my almost 4 year old grandson Colin put on the tree! It is beautiful!
Thanks for the giveaway ! Happy New Year!
(Kimberley Coover 2:13pm January 5, 2014)
Congrats on the Holt Medallion Award. One thing I just love about my grandmother was she was never judgmental. She has always turn a negative situation into a positive situation by making me see a light in my thinking.
(Kai Wong 2:30pm January 5, 2014)
Forgot to give you my email address: kmccandle(at)yahoo(dot)com
Thanks for the giveaway.
(Kai Wong 2:32pm January 5, 2014)
This sounds like an awesome reads!!
(Betty Hamilton 4:19pm January 5, 2014)
very interesting about your dreams and then using what you have learned from the dream! my dreams are crazy working-out-what-happened-that-day plus little bits, all spun together - entertaining, but not predictive!
(Beth Fuller 4:29pm January 5, 2014)
Sounds like a great read and thanks for the giveaway.
(Kathleen Beale 4:34pm January 5, 2014)
This sounds great! I have to admit, I have two ereaders but very much prefer holding the physical book as I read it. I love the book cover. Thank you for the contest.
(Vennie Martinisi 4:52pm January 5, 2014)
Thank you so much. What a great thing to do.
melback at cebridge dot net
(Melanie Backus 5:15pm January 5, 2014)
It sounds like a wonderful book. Thanks for the sweepstakes.
(Amy Kincade 5:25pm January 5, 2014)
Sounds like a great read. Would love to read this book.
(Carol Woodruff 6:57pm January 5, 2014)
I am very intrigued - LOVE the story - thank you so much for the opportunity to win!!!
(Felicia Ciaudelli 7:08pm January 5, 2014)
The title really gets my attention and I really would love to read the book. Thank you for the contest.
(Nancy Wolfe 7:26pm January 5, 2014)
Thanks to everyone for your posts and for sharing your granny stories. We
really are so connected.
Winners so far are Nancy K, Denise A, Kai W, Beth F, Melanie B, and Amy
K. Check your email.
And keep the posts coming!
(Deborah Grace Staley 7:43pm January 5, 2014)
Thank you so much Deborah. I am really excited to get started reading this book.
(Denise Austin 9:20pm January 5, 2014)
I would love to read this book, and I do have an e-reader.
(Wilma Frana 9:21pm January 5, 2014)
WHAT CAN I SAY . . . I WOULD LOVE TO WIN THIS PRIZE.
(Marlene Rosenberg 10:34pm January 5, 2014)
Wow, Congrats on your new book: WHAT THE HEART WANTS. I love
the book cover too! Your book sounds fascinating and I would
love to win and read it this New Year 2014. Thank You very
much. Cecilia CECE
(Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez 10:40pm January 5, 2014)
I'm going to love this.
(Mary Preston 5:28am January 6, 2014)
I have not tried any of this author's books yet, but they do sound good. Count me in. Happy New Year.
(Pat Lieberman 7:42am January 6, 2014)
sounds like a good read...I am in....
(Barbara Studer 10:36am January 6, 2014)
I lived in Georgia for many years and there was a lady who
could 'conjure' away warts.... among other talents. One of
the tricks was that after she worked her little spell, you
couldn't think about the wart or the spell for a week or your
wart wouldn't fall off. Easier said than done. :-)
(Glenda Martillotti 8:54pm January 6, 2014)
My daddy came from the hills of North Carolina. A lot of those old traditions were alive and well in our family. I have always been so annoyed by folks who think the 12 days of Christmas starts before the holiday! Today is Epiphany, it is the official 12th day of Christmas. In a perfect world, school breaks would cover us from right before Christmas until after Epiphany.
(Marcia Berbeza 12:50pm January 7, 2014)
My family comes from a similar heritage, but it seems only I have the propensity to sometimes know things. I know how to remove warts (but I use a penny), can predict the sex of a pregnant woman's child (using certain tools), etc. People who aren't prepared for such knowledge tend to freak out, so I don't share. Ever. Mostly I don't discuss it anymore and haven't for years. My sister grew up calling me a witch and meaning it, but only in a good way. Thank you for sharing with us; I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post and would love to read the book. firstname.lastname@example.org
(Michelle Willms 10:12am January 8, 2014)
happy Old Christmas!
(Denise Holcomb 5:43pm January 8, 2014)
Thank you so much for the copy of the book and for sponsoring the sweepstakes. I loaded it onto my kindle, and I am looking forward to reading it.
(Amy Kincade 5:07pm January 10, 2014)
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