Posted On: December 7, 2018
The With You Lockets team recently had the pleasure of connecting with author K.D. Ray who was writing a collection of holiday short stories. One of her stories centered on the gift of a locket. She found our lockets inspiring and asked to use one of our lockets on the cover of her book and as the centerpiece of her story! The entire book is full of beautifully written stories of eight different Christmas experiences. Below is a sneak peek of her book. Cozy up and read the story of Lisa's Locket.
K.D. Ray's book, Eight Days of Christmas, is available for purchase on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Eight-Days-Christmas-Collection-Christmases/dp/1719809232/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
Another of her books, For The Best?, is available on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1718136064
Visit her Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/KDRay-570155990065736/?ref=br_rs
Lisa had always loved the idea of owning a locket ever since her mum’s friend used to call her Lucy Locket after the children’s nursery rhyme. As she grew up she maintained her childhood curiosity about lockets – she found the idea of them a very romantic notion and the thought of locks of hair or portraits handed down through generations as heirlooms was wonderful to her. Her interest sparked the idea of researching the origins of the locket as she found the whole history of such a meaningful trinket to be fascinating.
Her research spanned several years and was carried out as a hobby much in the way people research their family tree. Her hobby filled many lonely nights when she left her parent’s home to move into a place of her own once she’d started work. Growing up, she had never been drawn to any career in particular and didn’t really hold much fondness for the cut and thrust world of commerce and bustle of the modern working arena.
On leaving school she had fallen into different office jobs which made her feel empty and she yearned to be paid for something which she would enjoy. It was by chance that she discovered an advert for a vacancy at the museum in town in a discarded old newspaper she had, distractedly, picked up to browse whilst waiting for her turn in the chair at the hairdresser’s.
Lisa had taken a picture of the advert on her mobile phone then rang them the second she emerged from the salon. The rest, as they say, was literally history! In her role at the museum Lisa was able to indulge her hobby whilst “working” at the same time as she began to familiarize herself with the objects on display and learned about their history in order to impart her knowledge to visitors to the museum.
She discovered that the existence of lockets dated back to the 16th century in European history. In this time, small lockets were worn as amulets to ward off evil spirits and would contain good luck charms. Other lockets, in this period, would contain a small piece of cloth soaked in sweet smelling perfume to defend against the stench of collective living in more densely packed areas. Small portraits were often placed in lockets to be passed on to an object of affection, too, which Lisa loved the idea of.
She found, though, that lockets were used in a more disturbing way in 1740. Lisa was sad to discover that locket necklaces were used to identify babies born to unmarried women in England. Children who were illegitimate suffered a tremendous social stigma. As a result, many of these unwed mothers (“fallen women”) delivered their babies to foundling hospitals. The identical leaves of the locket necklace they were issued with were then separated. If a mother returned to claim her baby, she proved her maternity by presenting her half of the locket necklace and could reclaim her child. Lisa discovered this fact about lockets, by accident, when she watched a West End production of Annie during a shopping trip into London with her sister.
They had booked a “Theatre Package” weekend as a special early Christmas treat for themselves. Lisa had loved the bright lights and whole ambience of the theatre that night but the show, for her, was stolen by the moment that kidnappers posed as Annie’s parents by presenting half of a locket necklace. She was shocked to learn of a darker use for the article of jewelry which she had always loved and always thought to be a gift of love.
Her sister, Karen, had enjoyed the show too but hadn’t found it as poignant as Lisa and had been keen to go to get something to eat as soon as the curtain came down. Though the sky was dark when they emerged from the theatre the streets were still bright with the many lights from window displays and street lighting. They chose to eat in a small Italian restaurant just round the corner from their hotel and followed a route which took them through a Christmas market full of wooden cabins displaying their festive wares.
The air was filled with the smell of pine and mulled wine and, despite Karen’s hunger, they took their time meandering through the little wooden huts. Karen stopped to buy a very delicate glass tree decoration for herself as she had just moved in with her boyfriend and she wanted to add her own personal touch to the place for their first Christmas living together as a couple.
She also found, on a nearby stall, a carved wooden nativity scene which she persuaded Lisa to put money towards to help her afford it for the “perfect spot on the table in the entranceway”. Lisa, on the other hand, could find nothing of interest for herself. Everything was shiny and new and she preferred old things – she loved anything with a bit of history to it and she often thought she may have been born in the wrong century because she was so drawn to everything from by-gone eras.
Her favorite Christmas present, the previous year, had been a book from her mum and dad. They had presented her with a dog-eared antique copy of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and Lisa had been thrilled to discover that a lock of hair in a locket was referenced to as a marriage proposal in the plot and, following this, further research in to the history of the locket also showed that using lockets to stash locks of hair had been used in more recent times as young soldiers, during World War One, would present their sweethearts with them before shipping out to various entrenched fronts.
Lisa loved classical literature and, often, browsed round antique shops and charity shops in the hope of finding a hidden gem. She became well-known to the shop owners and many of them would keep an eye out for anything which may be of interest for her. In this way she had recently bought an old edition of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights from the friendly owner of her favorite antique shop – Past Times.
She had devoured this classic over the space of a few nights as she made a habit of reading at bedtime. This was the part of the day she looked forward to the most and she had even bought a billowing old white, cotton nightgown which was part of a donation of costumes and props from the local amateur dramatic society at her favorite charity shop.
Lisa would don the old-fashioned nightgown and slide under the very modern duvet to travel back in time with a story in an old book which she often pondered the origins of as well – she would look at the beaten up old book fronts for a little while, some nights, and wonder who had picked up this book before her to read the story she was about to.
She also had an unusual ritual she used when she was reading an old book like this – she would remove her Laura Ashley bedside lamp and light a candle on her bedside table to read it by candlelight instead to help her immerse herself in the words of the past. Creating this ambience enabled her to imagine that she had journeyed back in time and it allowed her to feel that she became part of the story as she read on.
She had become so engrossed with the tumultuous love affair within the cover of Wuthering Heights that she could feel every wild gust of the moors as she read and hear the voices of the characters as the story unfolded before her in the soft, flickering glow of the candle. She had already concluded that this book was her all-time favorite well before reading about a scene where, at the death of Catherine, Heathcliff removed his rival-in-love Edgar’s hair from her locket necklace and replaced it with his own to ensure that he was the one to be held close to her heart even in death.
Lisa could find nothing on the Christmas market that captured her imagination or sang to her heart more than this, recently read, book had done and she entered the Italian restaurant without any shopping bags apart from the ones she was helping Karen with. They ended a very enjoyable night with a filling bowl of pasta and retired, exhausted but happy, to their hotel to prepare for their return home the following day.
They were both tired and weary from the busy weekend and Karen and Lisa passed most of the train journey home in silence. Karen reviewed the contents of her shopping bags making mental notes of the best placing for each item and how she would wrap each of the gifts she had bought for her family whilst Lisa’s thoughts drifted off to Emily Bronte’s moors beyond Haworth and pondered what Christmas would have been like for Emily and her family at The Parsonage out in the wilds of Yorkshire in the height of winter.
Then her thoughts moved on to imagining what this Christmas would be like, for her, and how different it would be now that she had met the love of her life. The staff at the museum where Lisa worked were more like family than colleagues and Lisa had, instantly, felt welcomed into the fold when she turned up for an interview for the job in January that year. She hadn’t met everyone on that first visit but found that the other, like-minded, people who worked there were all very friendly and welcoming too.
One of the people she met on her first day was Mike and, she smiled to herself at the memory that, it had been love at first lunchtime! Lisa and Mike had so much in common that both of them had forgotten to eat during that first lunchtime meeting and Lisa discovered that Mike worked, mainly, on the lower floor in the basement of the grand old building in the World Wars display. He spent his days making sure that the tape of the air raid sounded out loudly, and at regular intervals, to enhance the visitor’s experience as they wound their way through the museum’s version of a trench network in semi darkness.
Lisa had been assigned to the museum’s tribute to the 19th Century era with its many artefacts and depictions of Queen Victoria’s reign. As they only met up at lunchtime their relationship developed slowly but steadily over the weeks and months since Lisa’s employment began at the museum and they eventually, and everyone thought inevitably, became a couple. Their weekends would involve going to various historic reenactments, antique fairs or just visiting castles or nearby cities with an eye out for architectural evidence of past occupants.
When the train had arrived at the platform of their home town in Carnforth Lisa couldn’t resist a quick look in at the Brief Encounter display whilst Karen ordered a reviving pot of tea and a scone each for them at the platform café before they parted ways. Though they were both tired from their long journey home they had decided to share a quick drink and something to “put them on”, as their grandmother used to say, before continuing home.
Although Karen wasn’t a history buff like her sister even she liked the thought that the film Brief Encounter had been made at their train station and thought it still felt like a romantic setting. When both she and Lisa had drained the teapot and finished off their scones Karen phoned her boyfriend to ask him to pick her up at the station for her own “brief encounter moment” and Lisa hugged her goodbye and left, with the promise to call later, to rescue her car from the snow-covered car park nearby.
When Christmas Day arrived both Lisa and Karen had designed a new Christmas tradition for their new relationship situations and Karen had been first to come up with a solution to the “who do we go to for Christmas Day?” dilemma. She had proposed a plan which would mean spending Christmas morning with her boyfriend at their flat then she would drive over to her parent’s house for Christmas dinner where her boyfriend would join her later after visiting his parents.
This plan met with her parent’s approval so, on the back of this, Lisa decided to spend Christmas morning on her own at her place then join Karen and her parents for Christmas dinner and Mike would join them all later that night. Now, though, as a frosty Christmas Day sunshine streamed through the thin curtains in Lisa’s bedroom she was reluctant to throw the duvet back onto the coldness of the room so she left it to the last minute before a quick hot shower and wardrobe change.
She had skipped breakfast completely – safe in the knowledge that she would be eating plenty later. Dressed in sturdy boots (for the snow), a chunky cable jumper (for the cold) and carrying an armful of gifts (for Mick and her family) she braced herself for the brief cold walk to her car and the long moments of driving until the heater started to warm up. Before turning the ignition on she checked her mobile for messages and responded to a “Merry Christmas, love you! Can’t wait to give you your present xx.” message from Mike echoing his sentiments.
The path at her parents’ house was lit with a chain of light-up snowmen which her mother had bought and forced her father to install for the day. The door was barely visible beneath the huge wreath of holly and red bows and the doorbell’s regular chime had been replaced by one that played Silent Night in a warbling tone. Their mother did not “do Christmas” with her usual style and sophistication.
Silent Night alerted her dad to her arrival and she was soon in the warm embrace of her family in front of a roaring fire. This was the perfect Christmas scene that Lisa loved which evoked memories of childhood Christmases with a pillowcase of presents underneath the tree. The turkey dinner, as always, tasted as good as it smelt and Lisa felt warm and happy as she sat watching Karen’s attempt to mime the latest film in the annual game of charades. Karen’s boyfriend had arrived and had fitted, seamlessly, into the family celebrations with his enactment of the challenging title – Gone With the Wind. Then Silent Night warbled to announce the arrival of Mike and she eagerly ran to let him in.
It seemed odd, she thought, that Mike’s arrival stopped the merrymaking. Charades ended abruptly with her dad’s announcement of “right are we ready everyone?” Presents were exchanged and Lisa hadn’t noticed that her mum had gone round the lounge lighting candles during the frenzy. Then her father addressed Mike and said “Right, son, on you go!” as he switched off the lights so that the room was lit only by candlelight and the glow from the fire.
Mike turned to Lisa and presented her with a small package which she opened slowly and carefully. She lifted the lid off the small box inside and had to wipe away a tear as she found a large, oval, antique locket inside. She was dazzled by its beauty and the fact that Mike had known the perfect thing to give her – Lucy Locket finally had a locket of her own! Then she opened it up to find a small note in each half of the frame – the first side read “Will you” and the second half read “Marry me?”