Today I am so pleased to welcome Maggie Blackbird to Joyfully Jay. Maggie has come to talk to us about her release, Tied Up with a Bow. She has also brought along a copy to give away. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Christmas and New Year’s on the Rez
Being Ojibway, I grew up on the rez, and there were different holiday events that took place during my time and before my time.
My father worked as the area Fire Prevention Officer for the ten Ojibway communities. He was also a member of the volunteer fire department. And every year the fire department, with the band’s education committee, did an annual “Santa” run. As a little girl, I looked forward to this. Santa would ride on top of the fire truck, ho-ho-hoing and waving to all the kids who came out to see him. The education committee acted as “elves” and handed out presents to each boy and girl under a certain age.
So when my older brother and sister had their own children, this annual event became even more special to me. It’s still held to this day, and it’s a lot of fun for everyone, seniors included. Here Comes Santa Claus blares through the speakers attached to the fire truck. The sirens wail. The horn’s tooted. The First Nations constables provide an escort and they have the cherries on their cruiser going. And the “elves” still hand out gifts to the kids.
As a child, I can recall participating in the annual parade. The reserve is only a stone’s throw from the town, and we entered a float. The theme for our band’s float was The Nativity. I was one of the angels. And boy, was it ever cold having to kneel in the freezing temperature for a good hour. Later, when we made our way back to the fire hall on the reserve, we were awarded hot chocolate. And our float won the “religious theme” category. Mind you, our float was the only “religious theme” entered LOL.
During my mom and dad’s time on New Year’s Day, every house cooked up big meals. People would go from house to house, eating, visiting, and then moving on to the next house. I’m not sure why this tradition stopped. It sounds lovely, and I wish I would have been alive to participate in it. This day was one of fellowship, enjoying the hospitality of everyone on the rez.
There is another ritual that was performed but not done anymore, because of safety. As a child, come midnight on New Year’s Eve, the men of the community would stand on their doorsteps and fire their shotguns into the air to bring in the new year. By then I’d be in bed, but I’d be awake, waiting for the sounds of the shotguns. Sometimes I’d peek out the window. I can recall watching my BFF’s dad (they lived next door), standing on his back steps, firing his shotgun into the air.
Parties still happen. The day care holds one. So does the children’s centre. My older sister is a grandma now, and her daughter-in-law takes the grandchildren to these events.
When I came up with my short story idea, I debated whether to include a holiday rez ritual, but decided to focus on forgiveness, instead. I hope you enjoy Tied Up with a Bow. It was a lot of fun to write. And I’ll be giving away one e-copy to one commenter who answers the following question:
What events/rituals does your hometown/city host that you participate(ed) in?
He’s got the perfect Christmas present for the community’s chief—vengeance wrapped in a shiny box with a red bow on top.
Joseph Slade Indian isn’t angry. He’s pissed. Pissed that the man who threw over his love for glory and money is back, and now leads their Ojibway community as the new chief. Holding the pain deep in his chest, Slade knows how he’ll celebrate the most miserable day of the year—opening a gift of recompense after being dumped by the one man he dared to love.
Gavin Pemmican is full of regret. He knows he made a big mistake leaving Slade for a materialistic dream of power and prestige. No longer the poor bullied misfit but an educated lawyer, he’s ready to put his skills to the biggest case of his life by brazenly challenging Slade in the kangaroo court of sexual torture he’s daring to stick Gavin in—and win back the only man he’s ever loved.
An Ojibway from Northwestern Ontario, Maggie resides in the country with her husband and their fur babies, two beautiful Alaskan Malamutes. When she’s not writing, she can be found pulling weeds in the flower beds, mowing the huge lawn, walking the Mals deep in the bush, teeing up a ball at the golf course, fishing in the boat for walleye, or sitting on the deck at her sister’s house, making more wonderful memories with the people she loves most.
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Maggie has brought a copy of Tied Up with a Bow to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Friday, December 27th at 11:59 pm ET.
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