Slave Yule, 1861
Welcome to Katzenhaus Books, where we tell - the stories behind the history.
RSS Follow Become a Fan

Delivered by FeedBurner


Recent Posts

A Day for a Double Celebration
Ring of Fire
What has Saturday's Meteor Shower to Do with Henrietta Ainesworth?
Harbingers of Things To Come
Yankee Daughters -- Recipes

Categories

A new contest
Abolition
absurdity
academic myopia
Almost Free
Amazon
ancestors
Announcement
apocalypse
Applications and software
Appomattox
Arnulf of Lisieux
art of speaking
attracting readers
audience
audio books
Author Central
Author Gifts
author's Plea
awards
baseball
basketball
Battle of Port Royal
Battles
biographical
blind artists
blockade
blog chain
Book Club Guides
Book Design
Book Launch
book stores
book trailer
bookstores
Boxed Set
bright ideas
Building a platform
business
Business plan
Busy-ness
butterflies
Career choices
cats
celebrations
cemetery research
Census
challenges
characterization
Characters
Charleston
children
children's books
choosing a publisher
Choosing a Title
Christmas Past
Civil War
commercials
Computer Hacks
Confederates
Conferences
Connections
constitutional amendments
construction
Contract labor
cotton
Countdown Sale
Countdown to Launch
Cover Designs
Cover images
cutting and pasting
Cyber Monday
daily drama
daily events
Dead Mules
depression
diversions
dogs
Do-Overs
DRM
earthquake
e-book pricing
e-books
editing
elevator speech
elmore leonard
Elves and Holidays
Emancipation
England
English class
evidence
Excerpt
exclusivity
Exercise
Expertise
Facebook
fact and fiction
failures
fame and fortune
family affairs
Favorites
Fear of Failure
Fish
flood waters
flowers
food delights
Formatting
Fort Pulaski
free chapter
Free Days
freebies
Friendship
Frogmore
garden
gardens
genealogy
Getting organized
ghost stories
Giveaway
Goals
good business
good news
grammar cops
gratitude
gray horses
gripes
grocery shopping
guest blogs
Gullah
handicaps
Harriet Tubman
Hiatus
Historical background
Historical Fiction
historical puzzlers
historical thinking
history lessons
Holidays
home office
hope and kindness
horse races
horses
hurricanes
identifying your audience
illustrations
imagination
indie authors
Inspiration
inspirations
internet
internet history
intruders
ISBN
Kalamazoo
karma
Kindle
Kindle links
Kindle rankings
Kindle Serials
kings
Klout
Ku Klux Klan
Lack of co-ordination
landmarks
language
Laughs
launch dates
Laura Towne
Layouts
legal matters
lending library
Lessons learned
lessons unlearned
libraries
literary genres
local news
love story
making choices
Marketing
Matchbooks
medicine
medieval-isms
Meet the Characters
Memorial Day
memories
Milestones
military matters
mind-mapping
Misfis
Monthly Musings
name recognition
NaNoWriMo
Nellie Chase
New Blog
New Book
New England
New Research
New Year
newsletters
nonfiction
non-profits
nostalgia
Nurses
oddities
odds and ends
olympics
omens
opening lines
outrage
Papacy
parties
Penn Center
photographs
picture book
Pinterest
Pinterest and copyrights
Pirates
planning ahead
plot
point of view
polite society
politics
portraits
powerful women
Predictions
pre-orders
press release
previews
pricing
Principles
procrastination
productivity
Profiles
Progress Report
Promotions
proofs
pros and cons
publishing
publishing companies
publishing ploys
publishing rights
pure sentimentality
puzzlements
quiz
rain
random thoughts
RBOC
read an ebook
readership
recipes
Reconstruction
Relaxation
research
Resolutions
reviews
road trip
rough draft
Roundhead Reports
royalties
rules
SALE
Sales
scams
schedules
Scoop It
ScoopIt
seasons
Secessionville
second edition
Second Mouse
self-publishing
settings
Shiloh
Short Stories
Silliness
slander
Slavery
small world
Smile of the Day
snow, living in the south
social media
software
software disasters
South Carolina
Speechless!
sports
Spring
story arc
Substitutes
Success
summer
Synopsis
Taking a Break
Taxes
Thank You
the difficulties of blogging
The Gideonites
Theme
Tongue-in-cheek
Traditions
trailer
Travelog
trilogies
trolls
Tweet
Twitter
Upcoming Events
using commas
Vacation
vacation photos
Valentine
video
Visitor
vocabulary
Volunteering
voting
warnings
weather
weather trauma
website
word counts
Word-of-Mouth
Words
Words of Warning
Writer Beware!
Writer's Block
Writing Advice
Writing as Career
writing process

Archives

August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010

powered by

"Roundheads and Ramblings"

Slave Yule, 1861

The slaves’ celebration was every bit as much fun as little Glory had predicted it would be.
It lasted from Saturday afternoon to Tuesday evening, which was also Christmas Eve. For
Nellie, the days ran seamlessly into each other. She had wandered out with Private Stevenson on
Saturday afternoon to learn how the slaves made their wreathes. Uncle Bob was eager to teach
them, but Nellie soon found her hands were not strong enough to control the thick grape vines
that formed the foundation of each wreath. 

Bob took the thick end of a vine, twisted it into asymmetrical loop, and then began to wind the
 rest of the vine in and out of the first loop. Soon
he had a circle of four or five intertwined vines that held its own shape. Then he picked a
second strand of wisteria vine, keeping up the same braiding motion, but weaving the thinner
vine more closely. It formed a network over the sturdy frame, one that could be used to hold the
various pieces of greenery in place.

At that point Nellie stepped in again, trying her hand at adding individual pine needle
clusters, sprigs of boxwood, sprays of leathery magnolia leaves, and holly branches. “Don’t be
puttin’ too much holly dere,” Uncle Bob warned. “Dose leaves be prickly and you be havin’
trouble holding de wreath if de holly branches be too close together.”

“How do you fasten the pine cones to the wreath?” Nelly asked.
Jist use a piece of wisteria like a string. I ties mine right under de top row of spines and
then ties de whole thing to de form.”

“But the one I did just hangs there,” she said.

“If’n you tie de cones on first and then fill around ‘em wit’ de pine, dey stays put,” Bob
said. “You does the same wit’ des here Japonica blossoms.”

“Oh, those are beautiful. I’ve never seen them before.”

“Dey’s de flowers from a tea bush, so I hears. De’re common around old plantation
houses.”

Nellie had to admit her efforts were producing a lopsided and straggly wreath. “Better hide
this one on the warming kitchen door so no one sees it.” She laughed at her efforts. Still, she
enjoyed the experience tremendously, and the smell of pine sap and fresh flowers made Christmas
seem more real. The slaves already had an impressive array of decorations, and Bob hurried
off to supervise the hanging of wreaths on doors and windows all over the property.
Feeling a bit self-conscious about intruding on the slaves’ celebration, Nellie returned to the
house.

 But on Christmas Eve, the sounds coming from the yard tempted her to watch the festivities.
She had finished laying out the cold supper of biscuits, ham, and salad Maybelle had left
for the officers, when a cry of “Hear me!” drew her back to the door. An incredibly old black
woman stood in the doorway to the slave quarters. Dusk was settling over the yard, and firelight
reflected off light surfaces and drew attention to those who moved. Bent almost double, leaning
heavily on a walking stick as gnarled as she was, she summoned the children. “Come, an’ I be
gonna tell you ‘bout how de baby Jesus done come.”

Old Letitia slowly made her way toward a stool near the huge bonfire in the yard. She
launched into her tale as she walked, speaking the Gullah language Nellie had come to recognize
as the slaves’ private means of communication. The children flocked behind to hear her
words.

Een dat time, Caesar Augustus been de big leada, de emperor ob de Roman people. E
make a law een all de town een de wol weh e habe tority, say ebrybody haffa go ta town
faa count by de hed and write down e name.

Nellie found herself translating in her head:
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus,
that all the world should be taxed . . . And all went to be taxed, every one into his own
city.

The simplicity and beauty of Letitia’s version took nothing away from the story, while making it
immediate and understandable to the children.

They clustered close to her, eyes wide, mouths open in wonder, as she recited the story of
Jesus’ birth. As she reached the part where the animals of the stable knelt down to the baby, one
of the horses whinnied from its stall and everyone—Nellie included—gasped. It was a magical
moment, one Nellie would remember for years whenever she heard the verses from the Gospel
of Luke. A bit later, it was the sound of singing that moved her, as the crowd marked the end of
Letitia’s recital with several spirituals.