Saturday, December 31, 2022

Blog-Letter January 1 2023

January 1 2023

Pam has written about Scottish New Year traditions a little further along. In the meantime, here are some perhaps lesser-known festivities from around the world.

In Brazil, New Years is the summer season and for those living near the water, it can mean heading to the beach. One is supposed to jump seven waves while making seven wishes. The tradition hearkens back to Yemanja, the goddess of water. And before getting in the water, make sure you are clothed all in white, which symbolizes purity.

If you’re in Spain, start off the New Year by eating 12 grapes, each symbolizing the strike of each hour on the clock. It began in the late 19th century, believed to ward off evil while boosting your chance at a prosperous and lucky new year. There’s a catch though. You must eat all those grapes in a matter of seconds – they need to be gone by the time the clock finishes striking midnight.

Moving further south to India, you’d make an effigy of an ‘old man’ to represent the old year, and then burn it – at midnight of course. A good way to symbolize the passing of grievances from the old year, to make space for the birth of a new year.

In Japan, people start the new year by eating a warm bowl of soba noodles. This tradition dates back to the Kamakura period, and is tied to a Buddhist temple handing out the noodles to the poor. The long thin noodles, which are firm yet easy to bite, symbolizes a literal break away from the old year.

These are just a sample, but its amazing to learn how much food plays a part in closing out the old and welcoming in the new. Norway and Denmark have towering cakes, the Irish bang loaves of bread against walls and doors. Three potatoes are needed in Colombia, but in Greece it's an onion. Then there are Mexican tamales, and fruits in the Philippines, while in Haiti it’s sharing soup.


These customs focused on food seem to also symbolize that worldwide, we are more alike than different. Something to keep in mind as we move into another year. Too much of this world has grown unkind and just plain old mean. Let’s remember food, the symbolism behind respectful breaking of bread together and the reminder that without food, there would be nothing left to celebrate.


From Pam:

Word of the Day - Blether

Origin - Scottish

To talk in a long-winded way without making very much sense."There's plenty of stuff I could blether about from today”
I can still hear my mother saying,”Stop yer blethering!” And Liz says this to me all the time!
Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the old year and is synonymous with the celebration of the New Year in the Scottish manner. Street parties and fireworks with much drinking and partying, as the New Year is celebrated the world over. Maybe not as loud and boisterous as the Scots, but most countries in the world observe the Gregorian calendar.
A custom still in use today is called “first footing”. It’s said to bring Good Luck for the New Year if a tall, dark haired man crosses your threshold, carrying a lump of coal for the fire to keep you warm, some whisky to also keep you warm (inside)  and some Black Bun to eat. This is a Scottish fruit cake with a hard crust and made black with a dense mixture of currants. An acquired taste.  No, a woman would not be the first foot in the door. Sounds a wee bit sexist to me but maybe times have changed.

December was the usual hectic time. Meeting old friends, eating and drinking with family and missing absent ones. 2023 has arrived, and Liz and I are looking forward to our continued passion, writing as Jamie Tremain. Book four in the Dorothy Dennehy Mysteries, Cultivating the Truth, is a work in progress.

If you like a good caper, another book we’re so excited to be a part of has been written by Gloria Ferris and Jamie Tremain.  A first for Ferris Tremain.
Worlds May Change — A Mechanic Falls Gem Caper. Publishing date TBD.
So bring on the New Year. We’re ready for you!

From Liz

As Pam mentioned above, December was a hectic time. Or maybe it's just been nearly three years since all this socializing and sharing time together was the norm and we're making up for lost time.  
In early December, we, along with Gloria Ferris, participated in a seasonal vendor event at Delmanor Retirement Home in Oakville. It was lovely to chat - despite the masks -  with some interesting folks and gain new fans of all our books.

Mother Nature derailed plans to have our Genre5 Writer Group Christmas get together just before Christmas. Freezing rain, and snow had us err on the side of caution and reschedule for January 4.
Also in December, we were happy to announce we now have our books available through Smashwords. If you're not familiar with it, Smashwords offers thousands of e-books, in multiple genres. Looking for a new favourite? Check them out - Smashwords. You can find us here: Smashwords - Jamie Tremain

Jamie Tremain wishes one and all only the best of health, happiness and kindness for 2023. Oh, and yes - please keep reading those books!                           


Our Books are available:

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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Blog-Letter December 2022

 December 1 2022

From Liz:

A lot of Christmases under the tree for me now, and as each new one approaches, I find myself musing more on the ones further in the past. The ones when, as a child, you didn’t have a whole lot of things to worry about. When you were excited to have a break from school for two weeks. When the anticipation of tree decorating, and Christmas baking kept the days exciting. If  there was snow – bonus! And of course, presents from Santa!

I won’t mention the polishing of silver as one of those anticipated chores. And now that I own silverware myself I can understand my mother’s delegation of the task to my sister and me.

Mum was too busy with cleaning - and baking. Shortbread, Christmas puddings and fruit cakes – yes I love a good Christmas cake, preferably with marzipan icing! – mince meat tarts, sausage rolls, and…drum roll – trifle!  I can still taste the creamy custard and warmth of the sherry-laced biscuits. Fortunately, my sister continues the Christmas cake tradition and makes wonderful cakes using our mother's recipe.

Of course, as time goes by and wisdom is gained, my rear-view mirror of those precious times is now coloured by the realization that not everyone enjoyed Christmas in the same way I did. Not that we had a lot. Four of us lived in a tiny war-time house in Ajax. A two-bedroom house often shared with roomers as a way for my parents to make ends meet. But I’m pretty sure we lacked for nothing. There were always stacks of presents under the tree.  I can remember not understanding the excitement my mother displayed upon unwrapping a gift to find a pair of new slippers, and thought how boring is that?



There were letters to Santa, and one year my mother veered off the letter-writing exercise and had my sister and I telephone the North Pole instead. She admonished us to not dilly-dally with our verbal requests and that Santa was so busy he could only listen. An incessant buzzing on the telephone line was testament to his busyness.

Was that the year I hunted and found the ask-Santa gifts in the closet of my parents’ bedroom? Lesson learned on that score when Christmas morning came and there were no surprises at all.

Our Christmas stockings weren’t hung by the chimney with care, but instead we left the woolen beasts lying empty and waiting at the foot of our beds. When we awoke – as if we slept much – those stuffed socks kept us busy for a long time. Candies, fruit, rolled up puzzle books, small toys.

So many wonderful and treasured memories. The black and white photos I can still enjoy of those times make me smile and tear up at the same time.  How true the saying – youth is wasted on the young. I would love to have one more Christmas with my father and mother and reminisce with them over simpler times – at least they were to my mind. With maturity comes the knowledge that they had their problems and concerns, but still managed to provide the love, warmth and happy times that bring me comfort even now.

What about you? Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?

Happy Christmas, if that’s your tradition, to you and yours and may there be a treasure trove of comforting memories waiting to be made!




From Pam:

My memories of Christmas as a child are similar to Liz’s but instead of two children waiting anxiously for Santa to leave presents, there were five of us. The smell of mum’s baking, and presents being secreted into a closet. When we were very little, a grey woolly sock was laid at the foot of our bed with what we considered treasures. A beautiful orange that was hard to find the rest of the year. A pencil and a book and oh, let’s hope there’s a sixpence tucked in the bottom. As we got older I remember mum and dad lined up five chairs. Each had a new outfit, either a sweater/jumper or something we needed at the time. A toy of our choice or a game like Ludo or Dominoes and of course our stocking was stuffed with a Cadbury’s selection box of chocolates. My personal favorite.

I had to check with my siblings regarding a tree as I’ve no recollection of one. I’ve been assured that we certainly did. Homemade ornaments and some tinsel I’m told but no lights. I do remember being disappointed to know that Santa had to climb up three flights of stairs in our tenement as we had an electric fire and no chimney for him to come down.

Some years we went to church on Christmas Day. I always enjoyed the carols. I think mum sent us with dad to give herself an hour's peace and quiet.

Years later my boyfriend, later my husband, and I were in a pub on Christmas Eve and I asked him if he’d like to go to a midnight service with me. We recruited another couple and walked or should I say staggered in the cold from the pub to the church.


We sat in the back pew, and as I intended to give him his Christmas present after the service, I placed it on the bench in front of me.  In between “Once in Royal David’s City” and “Silent Night” all we could hear was a loud ticking sound. We all tried to ignore it, but it didn’t stop. The service finished and we stood outside the church and said our goodnights to our friends, and I handed Peter his gift. Yes, you’ve guessed it. The ticking was coming from Peter’s parcel. No, no, it wasn’t a bomb. I’d bought him an alarm clock and why it was so loud I’ll never know.

So many stories. First year after we married, back in the dark ages, Peter went out to cut down a tree at a tree farm. He was overly ambitious and came home with the most enormous tree that went through the ceiling and he had to cut a foot off it to make it fit. Or the year my mum was coming to stay for Christmas from Scotland. Peter was working so I decided to put the tree up myself. It would not fit in the tree stand so I got the saw out to make it work. I’m sure the tree when it started out was five feet but ended up at only three. Ah, never mind. Once I decorated it looked fine!!

My favorite Christmases were when my children were little and seeing the wonder on their faces. To me, Christmas is all about the children and families getting together. There are many on their own so reach out and be a friend.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Jamie Tremain News

On November 6, Jamie Tremain participated in Guelph's Book Bash, along with fellow author, and great friend, Gloria Ferris. The venue location - Guelph's Farmer's Market - provided an ideal location for more than 30 authors and other book-related vendors to showcase their wares. We met so many interesting people and look forward to taking part next year.

Pam      Liz    Gloria

Stay tuned to this space about more book news from these three pictured above! A new book due out in early January written by "Ferris Tremain".  Yes, one book - three authors!

And later this week - December 4, Jamie Tremain, along with Gloria Ferris,  will take part in a Christmas themed event at Delmanor - Glen Abbey Retirement Community (1459 Nottinghill Gate) in Oakville.  Seating is limited. Call 905-469-3232 if you'd like to join us

Jamie Tremain wishes everyone all the best for this Christmas and Holiday Season

 and that 2023

 will be a Healthy, Safe, and Kind year for all.

Our Books are available:

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