While I do regular Christmas programs, too, I love doing Victorian Christmas programs as The Hired Girl. The end of the 19th and start of the 20th century gave us lovely Christmas traditions. Adult parties enjoy stepping back in time to a gentler age. Even then people were starting to buy their presents a bit, but so much was family-centered and originated at home.
In readying myself, I searched my past articles here with the label Victorian Christmas and started clicking on links. I found myself hating the way blogs start with the latest on a topic, working through posts until eventually you reach the earliest material. Some of those links are no longer correct. Of all of them, the one about the Christmas network, My Merry Christmas, was my biggest disappointment. I had spent time typing up some of my favorite Public Domain material (not even scanning it!). That site has always been a bit quirky for finding stories and many of the links I posted earlier don't work. Unfortunately I mentioned starting with my much-loved Helen Hunt Jackson's unusual memory of "A Christmas Tree for Cats", but it's gone! As a result, and because this month, too, will find me on the road a lot, I plan to keep those wonderful Victorian stories right here, starting with that very tale.
By the way, the author, Helen Hunt Jackson, was best known for the novel, Ramona, which drew attention to the mistreatment of California's Native Americans. "Christmas Tree for Cats" was published (and recommended) in many ways, but you will find an expanded version was published in 1876 in her Bits of Talk, in Verse and Prose, for Young Folks . (That's a Google scan of the book and insists on going to page 25. Above the page, go to the tab that says Page 25 and click the down arrow; that brings up the Table of Contents; click on "A Christmas Tree for Cats", Page 18 to read a longer version of the story from the beginning.)
A Christmas Tree for Cats
I hope that story leaves you purring for more. I can't wait, I'll be telling some, including this story, this coming Sunday for a private party. At least this took you to a very special party in your imagination. Next week will bring another.
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain." The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated. I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century. My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them. I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.
At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience. Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week. This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here. (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.) Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection. I recommended it earlier and want to continue to do so. He has just loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so one can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression he likes by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
He also loaded to his server the doctorate thesis of Prof. Dov Noy (Neunan) "Motif-index of Talmudic-Midrahic literature" Indiana University, 1954, as a PDF file.
in the hope that some of you would make use of it.
Have fun discovering even more stories!