Wishing You a Merry, Happy Christmas!

We wish our friends and family Happy New Year’s, Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Birthday. So why do we say Merry Christmas?

Though the Merry Christmas greeting dates back to the early 1800s, Happy Christmas was the greeting of choice during the early nineteenth century.  Clement Clarke Moore even used it in his poem A Visit from St. Nicholas: “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Merry Christmas became more widely used following the release of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in 1843. “A merry Christmas to us all, my dears! God bless us!”  That same year the first commercial Christmas card was sent with the words “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to You.”

The fact that the British author made the term popular poses another question; Why does Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain wish her subjects Happy Christmas during her yearly broadcasts?

According to Phrase Finder, the word merry originally meant peaceful, pleasant and agreeable.  Dating back to the 1300s the word was used to describe such things as the peaceful month of May and gentlemen of an amenable nature. Through the years the meaning of the word changed to mean jovial, cheerful and sociable.  Eat, drink and be merry was even printed on tavern walls.

This brings us back to the current queen who, according to Patheos, is said to prefer “Happy Christmas” over “Merry Christmas” for one very good reason. “Merry” is interpreted to have a “connotation of boisterousness, even slight intoxication;” things that the queen does not wish to convey during a religious holiday.

So whether you choose to say Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas, or the all-encompassing Happy Holidays, I wish you the same.

I have a lot to celebrate…

My novella Do You Hear What I Hear? released on the 24th; my do-you-hear-what-i-hearbook Left at the Altar hit the stores on November 1st; and my office is clean (no small miracle).

Left at the Altar is the first book in my new series and I’m excited about it.  The second book A Match Made in Texas will release in the summer of 2017 and the third book How The West was Wed will follow soon after.

The idea for Left at the Altar came to me in a rather unexpected way.  We inherited several antique clocks and they all needed servicing.  My husband called a clock repairman to the house and the horologist was a writer’s dream.  He was full of fascinating stories about clock collectors.  But the story that really made an impression was the one about a client who owned so many clocks, the quarter-hour racket was deafening.  The horologist’s job was to turn the clocks off before each holiday so that guests didn’t have to compete with the cacophony of bongs and chimes during dinner.

Ah, sweet inspiration. Before I knew it, the town of Two-Time, Texas was born and the story of two feuding jewelers fell quickly into place.

The book takes place in 1880 before standard time.  Prior to 1883, the left-at-the-altar-2town jeweler usually determined the time. Trouble arose when a town had more than one jeweler and no one could agree on the time.  One town in Kansas reportedly had seven jewelers and therefore seven time zones.  Talk about confusion!

Just think, a person traveling from the East coast to the West would have contended with more than a hundred time zones. That wasn’t a problem when traveling by covered wagon, but it became a huge problem when traveling by train.  I was surprised to learn that some battles were lost during the American Civil War due to time confusion. When an order was issued to attack at a certain time, no one really knew what it meant. Was that Washington time or local time?  And if it was local time, which one?

Ah, yes, time.  It affects us in ways we might not even be aware of.  It certainly affected the two feuding families in my story.  A marriage was supposed to unite the families and turn Two-Time into a one-time town, but of course nothing ever goes as planned as this little excerpt shows:

The grandfather clock in the corner groaned and the wall clocks sighed. Seconds later the cacophony of alarms struck the hour of eight a.m. Only today, it wasn’t bongs, gongs, cuckoos and chimes that bombarded Meg’s ears. It was mocking laughter. Jilted bride, jilted bride, jilted bride…

Hope you enjoy the story as much I enjoyed writing it.