Christmas & Henry’s relatives

wrightbrosxmas1900small
Wright Bros. tree, 1900

Two of my favorite side characters are introduced in A Proper Lover at Christmastime, these being Henry’s Wilton relatives Jesse and Reggie.

In introducing the extended Wilton family, I wanted to give Henry relatives who operated very differently than the Blackwells, with parents who were involved and loving. His cousin Jesse was meant to demonstrate that there are many different ways to be a young slave owner, and that the manner in which Algonquin boys do things is definitely not the only way. Jesse really had just the one job, and I believe he accomplished it, but in writing him I quickly came to love the character and found ways to use him in the story going forward. Jesse makes appearances in the third and fourth books, and I anticipate at least two side stories that include his POV.

Uncle Reggie is another favorite of mine. He’s never been able to hide what he is, so he doesn’t even try. His appearance in APL is brief, but he’ll return in Book 3, and I  have story ideas for him, as well.

I looked at a lot of circa 1900 Christmas photos and ephemera to get a sense of what the holiday was like then. The 1900 Christmas tree pictured (which happens to belong to the Wright Brothers’ family) in the photo above and below helped me decide what to give Cora for Christmas (tea set and a different sort of doll), as well as showing me the plain wrapping for her birthday present.

Wright Bros tree detail
tea set, dollhouse furniture, brown paper packages tied up with string

Here is an interesting, if somewhat academic, article about the development of American Christmas: Christmas in 19th Century America – Penne Restad

And here is the history of electric Christmas lights, because why not?

xmas floral
very non-xmas-y card from my ephemera collection, dated 1878

Happy whatever-you-celebrate :)

6 thoughts on “Christmas & Henry’s relatives”

  1. Excellent! I was hoping these two would make future appearances…I quite liked them too.

    I’ve been thinking quite a lot about Christmas/holiday traditions lately, due to some changes in how my family is able to do holidays this year, so reading about Henry’s family Christmas was a treat.

    1. I’m glad you like them! I’m quite enamored of them both :)

      We hadn’t really observed any holidays for a decade or more, but I think writing about Henry’s Christmas put me in the mood to celebrate this year. We have a very gaudy/beautiful tree and we’re doing presents. I had forgotten how much fun it is to decorate and have gifts (even if the gifts are mostly routine things I ordered for myself!).

      1. Oh man. Gifts are my “love language,” so it’s difficult for me to imagine not having some kind of gift-giving in the winter!

        1. It’s just me and the Mr., and we pretty much get ourselves everything we need or want when we want it, so for these many years I’ve been saying that there’s no need for presents, and the Mr. has gone along with my scroogishness. But now that we do have festive packages under a shiny tree, the pageantry and sense of occasion are exciting. As far as a “love language” is concerned, I do think there’s a potential for vulnerability in gift-giving that I was unconsciously avoiding for a long time, and maybe I’m over that now. Anyway, thank you so much for reading my books, and happy holidays to you :)

  2. Love the historical features here, and I adored Henry and Martin’s Christmas. They are so innocently thoughtful to each other!

    I had suspected we’d see more of Reggie and Jessie, so I’m glad for that. It even seems Henry’s father is loosening up, so I’m hopeful there will be some growth in that relationship.

    1. Yay! Glad you liked it :) I’m also happy that you’re interested in more Reggie and Jesse, as I have lots of plans for them. Henry’s father is definitely making an effort in his own way, but Henry just doesn’t see it. I think they’re like a lot of parents and children who just don’t understand one another, and that will work its way into the story in the coming books.

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