Tomorrow (January 7) is Russian Orthodox Christmas, so I send you best wishes and this excerpt from a 2015 blog about the holiday:
Many Orthodox churches celebrate according to the older Julian calendar, so they have a different date than traditionally American churches. But there is a significant number of Russian Orthodox Alaskans, thanks to our history. Alaska was Russian before it was American, and there is a cultural legacy here.
One fun aspect of the holiday is starring, still common in some Alaskan towns and villages. To represent the star that led the wise men to the Chris child, they decorate a huge star and carry it from house to house and sing, much like Christmas carolers. The photo is from the Alaska Dispatch News, via John Hanscom’s My Alaska board on Pinterest, caption: “rmogen Merculief spins the star as Father Pete Chris, of St. Innocent Russian Orthodox Church, leads the church choir in hymns at the Alaska Native Medical Center on Tuesday. Starring or “Slaaviq” is a traditional part of the Russian Orthodox Christmas celebration.”
And there is a scene about starring in Alaskan Don Rearden’s book The Raven’s Gift. Learn more about the book at http://www.donrearden.com/index.html(Note: be aware that much of the book is a thriller, not to be read at bedtime unless you like scaring yourself! But it is brilliantly written!)
As you may know, I declared 2016 a good year for the arts. Over a series of blog posts, I documented my journey participating in and enjoying the arts and sharing some of the insights I gained from it. (See my first post at http://www.lynnlovegreen.com/2016-a-good-year-for-the-arts/ for more information.)
The arts made my year more rewarding and thoughtful. Many times a book, movie, song, or visual artwork helped me understand something or someone in greater depth than I did before.
One recent example was the film Moonlight (http://moonlight-movie.com)—wow, what great writing, acting, directing, and production. It’s one of the best movies I have ever seen, and I’ve seen hundreds. As the website says, “At once a vital portrait of contemporary African American life and an intensely personal and poetic meditation on identity, family, friendship, and love, MOONLIGHT is a groundbreaking piece of cinema that reverberates with deep compassion and universal truths.” Walking beside that young boy and staying with him as he grew into the man he became showed me so much about that person and community, but also about human nature. Now I understand him, and people like him, better than I did. (I am trying not to be too specific and create a spoiler here, but please go see the movie and you’ll know what I am trying to say!)
When I started this project at the beginning of 2016, I had the feeling we all needed an extra dose of understanding for each other. The year proved that, in ways I won’t go into here. But suffice to say, we still need to understand each other, and to reach out to our neighbors near and far. We need to choose love over fear and remind ourselves of our compassionate values. I encourage each of you to find a way to do that in 2017. And, of course, please continue to pay for and donate to the arts and tell your elected officials to support the arts in the public schools and in your own community.
This is what I plan to do, so far:
I will continue to use the arts as a viewpoint into understanding people here and around the world.
I will write my nonfiction to share my ideas about all of this, and my young adult fiction to show what some people experienced in Alaska during different points in our history, to enlighten readers about those times and how parts are universal or share things with our current time.
I will also volunteer in ways that help me reach out to people; for example, I am going to lead a teen book club at a nearby public library.
Now it’s your turn. What will you do in 2017? And what would you like to see from me over the next year? Please comment on this post to share your ideas, and let me know if you’d like me to do a similar series on my blog in 2017. (If you’d like to share with me privately, please write me at lynnlovegreen(at)gmail.com.)
Note: I’m running an encore blog post while I catch up with family and friends over the holidays. Earlier versions of this post appeared in the AKRWA blog and this blog.
To Alaskans, solstice is a big day. Our lives revolve around the environment, including the changes in weather and daylight. We notice how much sunlight we gain or lose each day. We celebrate the longest day of the year. My daughter even had her wedding on summer solstice. On the shortest day of the year, we pause, then look forward to the return of sunlight.
People have been observing winter solstice since Neolithic times. You’ve probably read about the history before, so I’ll be brief here. The Saami, the Romans, and the Celts had midwinter festivals that led to many of our winter solstice and Christmas traditions. There are also traditional celebrations on or near winter solstice in Pakistan, East Asia, and Mali, just to name a few. Many of us recognize it as a time of rebirth and renewal, or welcome good luck into our houses at this time.
The short days give Alaskans an excuse to stay inside and cuddle up in front of the fire. Some of us do extra reading or other indoor activities. I tend to write more in the wintertime. Winter solstice is a good time to reflect, think about the past year and make plans about the future. While I’m not thrilled with cold weather, I do like the opportunity to wrap up the year and acknowledge my loved ones.
We often attend or host winter solstice parties on December 21st. We’ll celebrate with family, friends, good food and drink. To all of you: good wishes, wassail, and hoping you have a great winter solstice, however you celebrate this time of year!
Here’s the info for my stop on the Holly Jolly Hop!
This hop runs from 13 – 20 Dec.*
My prize: a box of Alaska Wild Berry Chocolates. Imagine flavorful Alaska wild berry jellies coated with tasty chocolate—you’ll see why this is my favorite candy!
Note: Open internationally, but if the winner resides outside the USA, and shipping to their country is ridiculously expensive, I may substitute a $10 gift card. Random winner selected from Facebook comments. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Facebook is not responsible for this jolly giveaway!
About my book, GOLD NUGGETS, a sweet YA historical romance:
In the shadow of Denali, she has a home, and he finds adventure. Charlotte Cooper wants to stay near her parents’ home in Alaska. But her dreams of being a writer call her away to college or work, and she has to choose her own path in life.
Henry Reeves is a wealthy New Yorker seeking a summer adventure when he travels to Kantishna near the proposed Mt. McKinley National Park. He discovers two passions, one for Charlotte, and the other for keeping Alaska wildlife from being wiped out like the buffalo.
Charlotte and Henry find an attraction they can’t deny, but can they build a new life together between the wilderness and high society?
Gold Nuggets Buy Links—available in print and ebook:
* This giveaway is open until midnight EST, 20 Dec 2016. Open internationally. Random winner selected from Facebook comments on 21 Dec 2016. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Facebook is not responsible for my giveaway!
December 4, 1932 – The public school building at Fairbanks was destroyed by fire.
December 6, 1907 – Fire started in the Model Cafe at Fairbanks, burned it, a drug store, and a men’s clothing store
December 8, 1960 – The Lazy Mountain Children’s Home near Palmer was destroyed by fire.
December 13, 1883 – The Custom House at Sitka, a log building built by the Russians, was gutted by fire.
December 22, 1919 – The trading store of the Sons of Norway at Petersburg was destroyed by fire.
December is a dangerous time for wooden buildings. It kind of makes sense, that the dead of winter is the time most people would be heating their buildings with lots of wood or coal, and that it could get out of hand and set a wooden building on fire. But it is sad that it happened so often.
If a town or village was lucky, it had a good fire department on duty to keep fires from spreading. The Juneau Volunteer Fire Department was founded in 1899. The photo in this article is of the Nome Fire Department in a 4th of July parade in 1901 (via Wikipedia Commons). Anchorage’s Fire Department was founded in 1915. Now, most communities have either a paid or volunteer fire department. But we still have to be careful, especially in the winter. A cold night is a rotten time to lose your shelter and belongings.
Here’s a link to the American Red Cross, if you’d like to help our neighbors who need help after fires and other disasters:
Saturday, November 26 is this year’s date for Small Business Saturday. It’s the day we encourage everyone to shop at their local small businesses to help our communities stay strong.
This year, I want to acknowledge all the independent bookstores out there. Shout outs to Fireside Books, Title Wave, and Mosquito Books in my area! Here’s a couple photos from a recent trip to Mosquito Books at the Anchorage airport–thanks for carrying my Gold Rush books!
Hope you enjoy a little shopping and support your local bookstores wherever you are.
My fellow Americans, Donald Trump will become the next president of the United States.
We may think he’s the best thing since sliced bread, or we may think he is a cross between Mussolini and McCarthy, but that’s not the point of this essay. We might be shaking our heads at the ugliness of the campaign season. We may think we need to abolish the electoral college, or get rid of the two-party system. There are some good arguments there, and we have the right to make the system work better for the good of the people. But in the meantime, now what?
I am more concerned about what we do right now, in the immediate future. We don’t want our kids thinking that brutal campaign rhetoric is okay, that sexual predation is all right. The liberal members in my writing group and my gun-toting friends at the shooting range don’t want their sons and daughters to be attacked in that way. Let’s stop this runaway train and figure out how to treat each other between now and the inauguration. We need to become a civil country again.
If you live here, you need to live up to the American creed. You’ve heard elements of our creed a thousand times but let me remind you:
From the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
From the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
From the 14th Amendment: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
We don’t have crown jewels in this country. We have the words above, and many others. Those ideas are our treasure, our heritage. And they don’t make exceptions. There’s nothing in the above statements that say you have to agree with a certain religion to speak your mind. There’s nothing that gives you permission to abuse people because of their gender or disability or race. There’s nothing that says some people can be assaulted or discriminated against because they are women or black or transgender, or any other group someone is afraid of.
So, now what? What do we do now? We live according to the Constitution we are so proud of. We learn to work together and show our children that the way to a better future is through our actions. We make a difference by talking with (not at or about) our neighbors, by finding common ground, by participating in our democracy and our local community.
Let’s start small, by smiling at the next person you pass on the street, by being kind to a stranger. Let’s try watching a different TV channel than you usually do, or reading a different newspaper, to see other points of view. Let’s object when a friend says something hateful (or, God forbid, reaches out to hurt someone physically), and refrain from hurting the people around us in our words or actions. We’re all in this together. We need to act accordingly.
You want to make America great again? Start with the American inside you. And I promise I’ll do the same.
Veterans Day has always meant a lot to me, as I grew up an Army brat, my husband is a Navy vet, and it was also my mother’s birthday. Here’s a little history of Veterans Day, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:
In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. This site, on a hillside overlooking the Potomac River and the city of Washington, D.C., became the focal point of reverence for America’s veterans.
Similar ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where an unknown soldier was buried in each nation’s highest place of honor (in England, Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arc de Triomphe). These memorial gestures all took place on November 11, giving universal recognition to the celebrated ending of World War I fighting at 11 a.m., November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). The day became known as “Armistice Day.”
Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a Congressional resolution. It became a national holiday 12 years later by similar Congressional action. If the idealistic hope had been realized that World War I was “the War to end all wars,” November 11 might still be called Armistice Day. But only a few years after the holiday was proclaimed, war broke out in Europe. Sixteen and one-half million Americans took part. Four hundred seven thousand of them died in service, more than 292,000 in battle.
Armistice Day Changed To Honor All Veterans
The first celebration using the term Veterans Day occurred in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1947. Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran, organized “National Veterans Day,” which included a parade and other festivities, to honor all veterans. The event was held on November 11, then designated Armistice Day. Later, U.S. Representative Edward Rees of Kansas proposed a bill that would change Armistice Day to Veterans Day. In 1954, Congress passed the bill that President Eisenhower signed proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day. Raymond Weeks received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Reagan in November 1982. Weeks’ local parade and ceremonies are now an annual event celebrated nationwide.
Alaskan women have always been involved in our politics, not just the former governor you may have heard of. In 1913, the first bill passed by our first legislature gave women the right to vote. Here’s a sample of women who have served in our state government over the years.
The first woman state legislator was Nell Chadwick Scott, elected in 1936. She had a background as a legal secretary, and was known as “Flying Nell.” She flew her plane around the state to talk with people individually instead of making speeches to large groups.
Crystal Snow-Jenne was the inspiration for my character Ada in my YA historical romances Worth Her Weight in Gold and Fools Gold. She grew up in Alaska as a young performer with her family during the Gold Rush, and became a legislator in 1940.
In my lifetime, we have had several firsts in Alaska women politicians as well:
Thelma Garcia Buchholdt, a Filipino American activist and historian, served in the legislature in 1975-1983. She also practiced law, worked with groups such as the Filipino American National Historical Society, and documented Alaskan Filipino history.
Bettye Davis, an African American, started a second career in politics after she retired from social work in the 1980s. She served three terms in the state legislature and is now on her third stint as a member of the Anchorage School Board.
The first Alaska Native woman to serve in Juneau, Georgianna Lincoln, (an Athabascan) was elected in 1993, serving there for 14 years. She is still active in groups such as Alaska Federation of Natives and First Alaskans Institute.
Another notable woman is Fran Ulmer, who served in the state legislature from 1987 to 1994, was our first woman Lieutenant Governor in 1994 to 2002, and is currently chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission.
With this great legacy, I am sure we will have more Alaska women in politics in the future. I’m voting for a few this time around! Here’s my video on my first time voting for #RocktheVote