Read An Excerpt

“..a sweet, memorable tale of siblings and secret childhood yearnings that will ring true for anyone who remembers his or her own Christmases past.” -BookPage December ’02 Issue

“Upon reading Bill Duncliffe’s book “Christmas Past” consider your Christmas shopping done… this is THE BOOK for the holiday season. In fact, I do believe this book is the book to give for any occasion. I have never been so moved. “-

Kathy Patrick of The Pulpwood Queens
featured on “Good Morning America”, Newsweek, Time and the Wall Street Journal

“…full of humor, humanity and good old-fashioned Christmas memories … a sweet-souled, slim little volume that says “Merry Christmas” much better than a card.”

-Carolyn Howard Johnson
award-winning author of “This is the Place” and “Harkening: A Collection of Short Stories”

“Duncliffe vividly portrays his main character’s entire family in his christmas novel, “Christmas Past”. It’s those details that makes the story come alive as if the reader is right there in the McNeil household, on Christmas eve, as they anxiously await the fate of the patriarch’s job…This story is extremely visual, entirely realistic, and will make you reflect upon your own family and your own “Christmas Past”s…”
-Yankee Christmas

“The 1960’s. The last generation before the nuclear family began to atomize. A family in crisis. Christmas around the corner. Dave McNeil, 12-year old chronicler of his family’s adventure, takes you back for a touching, warm and humorous remembrance of the times and his remarkable family.”

“But, Santa or no Santa, presents were still on the dance card for this Christmas. I was enormously relieved when I digested my mother’s uttering (if not her cooking) since it meant that the presents had already been bought and that Dad’s job status, one way or the other, would have no effect on our, or more importantly my, Yuletide haul. Yippee!

The prospects of receiving the gift of my choice, so recently dimmed, now brightened again. My dream gift, the all-time, all-gift gift, the gift of a lifetime was the official, autographed model, All-Star, Triple Crown Carl Yastrzemski fielder’s glove. Indeed it was the dream gift, the all-time, all-gift gift, gift of a lifetime for well nigh every boy that age in those climes that year. Every boy-jack one of us had dreamed ourselves to sleep those last few months with the thoughts of the official, autographed model, All-Star, Triple Crown Carl Yastrzemski fielder’s glove gracing a hallowed place amid the mere flotsam and jetsam of other, lesser presents. It was widely known that possession of the sacred icon would make the inept invincible, the weak a warrior, the chump a champion.

The gloom and doom of our household that evening had cast a chilly wet blanket on the fire of my dreams. And yet, at the last moment, the last out, bottom of the ninth, just like the mighty Yaz leading the Impossible Dream Cardiac Kids to another improbable come-from-behind victory, my mother’s timely words had blown life into the still embers of my desire. Huge sighs of relief blew my chest up and down like a furiously pumping bellows.”

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A Christmas tree

The evergreen fir tree has customarily been utilized to commend winter celebrations (agnostic and Christian) for a large number of years. Agnostics utilized parts of it to improve their homes amid the winter solstice, as it made them think about the spring to come. The Romans utilized Fir Trees to adorn their sanctuaries at the celebration of Saturnalia. Christians utilize it as an indication of everlasting existence with God.

No one is extremely certain when Fir trees were first utilized as Christmas trees. It most likely started around 1000 years back in Northern Europe. Numerous early Christmas Trees appear to have been hung topsy turvy from the roof utilizing chains (swung from ceiling fixtures/lighting snares).

Other early Christmas Trees, crosswise over numerous parts of northern Europe, were cherry or hawthorn plants (or a part of the plant) that were put into pots and brought inside so they would ideally bloom at Christmas time. On the off chance that you couldn’t manage the cost of a genuine plant, individuals made pyramids of woods and they were finished to resemble a tree with paper, apples and candles. Some of the time they were conveyed from house to house, as opposed to being shown in a home.

It’s conceivable that the wooden pyramid trees were intended to resemble Paradise Trees. These were utilized in medieval German Mystery or Miracle Plays that were carried on before Churches on Christmas Eve. In early church schedules of holy people, 24th December was Adam and Eve’s day. The Paradise Tree spoke to the Garden of Eden. It was regularly strutted around the town before the play began, as a method for publicizing the play. The plays disclosed to Bible stories to individuals who couldn’t read.

The primary recorded utilization of a tree at Christmas and New Year festivities is contended between the urban communities of Tallinn in Estonia and Riga in Latvia! Both case that they had the principal trees; Tallinn in 1441 and Riga in 1510. The two trees were set up by the ‘Fraternity of Blackheads’ which was a relationship of neighborhood unmarried dealers, send proprietors, and nonnatives in Livonia (what is currently Estonia and Latvia).

Little is thought about either tree separated from that they were placed in the town square, were moved around by the Brotherhood of Blackheads and were then determined to flame. This resembles the custom of the Yule Log. The word utilized for the ‘tree’ could likewise mean a pole or post, tree may have been similar to a ‘Heaven Tree’ or a tree-formed wooden candelabra as opposed to a ‘genuine’ tree.

In the town square of Riga, the capital of Latvia, there is a plaque which is engraved with “The First New Year’s Tree in Riga in 1510”, in eight dialects.

A photo from Germany in 1521 which demonstrates a tree being strutted through the lanes with a man riding a steed behind it. The man is dressed a religious administrator, perhaps speaking to St. Nicholas.


In 1584, the antiquarian Balthasar Russow expounded on a convention, in Riga, of a brightened fir tree in the market square where the young fellows “ran with a run of ladies and ladies, first sang and moved there and after that set the tree afire”. There’s a record of a little tree in Breman, Germany from 1570. It is depicted as a tree adorned with “apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper blooms”. It was shown in an ‘organization house’ (the gathering place for a general public of agents in the city).

The main individual to bring a Christmas Tree into a house, in the manner in which we know it today, may have been the sixteenth century German evangelist Martin Luther. A story is informed that, one night before Christmas, he was strolling through the timberland and admired see the stars radiating through the tree limbs. It was beautiful to the point, that he went home and told his kids that it helped him to remember Jesus, who left the stars of paradise to come to earth at Christmas. A few people say this is indistinguishable tree from the ‘Riga’ tree, however it isn’t! The Riga tree initially occurred a couple of decades sooner.

The custom of having Christmas trees could well have gone along the Baltic ocean, from Latvia to Germany. In the 1500s, the nations which are presently Germany and Latvia were them a player in two bigger domains which were neighbors.

Another story says that St. Boniface of Crediton (a town in Devon, UK) left England and made a trip to Germany to lecture the agnostic German clans and convert them to Christianity. He is said to have gone over a gathering of agnostics going to forfeit a young man while venerating an oak tree. In outrage, and to stop the forfeit, St. Boniface is said to have chopped down the oak tree and, surprisingly, a youthful fir tree jumped up from the foundations of the oak tree. St. Boniface accepting this as an indication of the Christian confidence and his devotees adorned the tree with candles so St. Boniface could lecture the agnostics around evening time.

Once on a chilly Christmas Eve night, a forester and his family were in their house assembled round the fire to keep warm. All of a sudden there was a thump on the entryway. At the point when the forester opened the entryway, he found a poor young man remaining on the entryway step, lost and alone. The forester invited him into his home and the family nourished and washed him and put him to bed in the most youthful children claim bed (he needed to impart to his sibling that night!). The following morning, Christmas Morning, the family were woken up by a choir of holy messengers, and the poor young man had transformed into Jesus, the Christ Child. The Christ Child went into the front garden of the bungalow and severed a branch a Fir tree and offered it to the family as a present to state thank you for taking care of him. So as far back as them, individuals have recollected that night by bringing a Christmas Tree into their homes!

In Germany, the primary Christmas Trees were enhanced with palatable things, for example, gingerbread and gold secured apples. At that point glass creators made unique little trimmings like a portion of the designs utilized today. In 1605 an obscure German stated: “At Christmas they set up fir trees in the parlors of Strasbourg and hang subsequently roses cut out of colorful paper, apples, wafers, gold thwart, desserts, and so forth.”



A Christmas Day,…

December 25, is a standout amongst the merriest Christian occasions in numerous nations around the globe. It observes Jesus’ introduction to the world.

Christmas Day is an occasion in many, however not all, nations. Numerous homes have Christmas trees and different enhancements in the weeks prompting Christmas Day. A few work environments hold Christmas parties before December 25. Merry exercises incorporate trading presents, singing Christmas tunes, going to parties.

It’s an exceptional time when kids get presents from family, companions and Santa Claus, or Father Christmas. Christmas cards are likewise given or conveyed before Christmas Day.

For a few, Christmas is a selective family undertaking, while others welcome companions to a Christmas smorgasbord or pot fortunes supper. Holy places have unique administrations and may incorporate a crèche or smaller than usual Nativity scene.

What’s Open or Closed?

Christmas Day is an open occasion in numerous nations around the world, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Government workplaces, instructive organizations, numerous organizations and post workplaces are shut on this day. In the event that you intend to movement with open transport, check with the neighborhood transport expert on plan changes.

About Christmas Day

Christmas praises the introduction of Jesus Christ, who Christians accept is the child of God. His introduction to the world date is obscure in light of the fact that there is little data about his initial life. There is contradiction among researchers on when Jesus was conceived. Christians observe Jesus’ birthday on December 25. Customary Christians observe Christmas Day on or close January 7.

“Christmas” originates from the early English “Cristes maesse”, or the mass of Christ. It is likely that the Christmas date of December 25 was balanced the Pagan festivals of Saturnalia and Natalis Invicti. It additionally conceivable that the festival of the introduction of the “genuine light of the world” was set at the season of the December solstice since this is the point at which the days in the northern half of the globe start to develop longer. Christmas occasion traditions get from different societies, including Teutonic, Celtic, Roman, West Asian and Christian.

The mistletoe is a regularly utilized Christmas embellishment. By custom, individuals who meet under hanging mistletoe are obliged to kiss. Mistletoe has agnostic affiliations. For instance, the druids of Gaul respected mistletoe developing on oak trees as sent from paradise.

Other basic designs related with Christmas are holly and ivy – both are related with Pagan celebrations as it was standard to enrich with greenery for these celebrations.


Pictures of Santa Claus, otherwise called Father Christmas, snowmen, reindeer, and sweet sticks are found in cards, blurbs, signs and other printed or promoting material related with the Christmas festivities. Pictures of child Jesus, the Christmas star, and different images related with the religious significance of Christmas are likewise observed amid Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.