Origin of Watchnight Services

Many of you who live or grew up in Black communities in the United States have probably heard of "Watch Night Services," the gathering of the faithful in church on New Year's Eve. The service usually begins anywhere from 7 p.m.to 10 p.m. and ends at midnight with the entrance of the New Year. Some folks come to church first, before going out to celebrate. For others, church is the only New Year's Eve event.

Like many others, I always assumed that Watch Night was a fairly standard Christian religious service -- made a bit more Afro centric because that's what happens when elements of Christianity become linked with the Black Church .

Still, it seemed that predominately White Christian churches did not include Watch Night services on their calendars, but focused instead on Christmas Eve programs. In fact, there were instances where clergy in mainline denominations wondered aloud about the propriety of linking religious services with a secular holiday like New Year's Eve.

However, there is a reason for the importance of New Year's Eve services in African American congregations. The Watch Night Services in Black communities that we celebrate today can be traced back to gatherings on December 31, 1862, also known as "Freedom's Eve."

On that night, Blacks came together in churches and private homes all across the nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation actually had become law. Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free. When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God.

Black folks have gathered in churches annually on New Year's Eve ever since, praising God for bringing us safely through another year.

It's been 141 years since that first Freedom's Eve and many of us were never taught the African American history of Watch Night, but tradition still brings us together at this time every year to celebrate "how we got over."

Written by Charyn D. Sutton © 2004

Illustration Citation: Heard and Moseley.Waiting for the hour [Emancipation] December 31, 1862.Carte de visite. Washington, 1863.Prints and Photographs Division
African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full CitizenshipThe Civil War: Part 2Library of Congress
Essay on Watch Night by Charyn D. Sutton, The Onyx GroupOriginally Written December 2000, Revised August 2004
Additional information on the history of Watch Night can be found in Emancipation Proclamation by noted African American historian John Hope Franklin and Forever Free by Dorothy Sterling (out of print).


Shopped Till We Dropped

Bummer! The fun is now over. Back to reality. We literally shopped till we almost dropped in the street. I didn't think I would make it back to Valerie's to get our luggage in time to catch a cab and make our train. After a late night of drinking and hanging with good company, we crashed back at Val's and slept in. We didn't get out for breakfast till about 10 am and went to this interesting diner up the street from Val's house. The toast and bacon was great but my omelet wasn't as good as it was at Annie's. After getting sustenance, we walked around the neighborhood visiting local shops. Erin found ANOTHER pair of boots - they were kind of cool. I picked up a nice refillable notebook for my purse and to hold the beautiful Cartier pen that Ron gave me for Christmas. I refused to take the pen set anywhere until I had an appropriate book to hold it in for fear of losing the pen in the black hole of my purse - and NO you can NOT borrow my pen. Don't even think about it.

We also visiting a thrift store across the street from Val's co-op and if I could have figured out how to get the red leather sofa and chair on the train - SOLD! There were some really good items in the store. We went back to Val's to leave our luggage with the doorman and venture out on our own for a few hours since Val had a doctors appointment. She got us safely on the subway and we were off to 59th & Lexington to walk over to Central Park. We got a little side tracked at the Stewart Weitzman Store - everyone is having a sale and spent an hour trying on shoes. AGAIN. I bought a really cute pair of shoes and then we did a force march through the throngs of humanity to see if we could catch a carriage ride through Central Park. No dice. The line was too long so we decided to just window shop our way back to the subway stop with a side stop at Bloomies again. One guy tried to convince us that riding in his bicycle rickshaw for $85 would be just a good (even better) than the carriage ride. Ya know man, crack kills. Just stop the madness.

Erin and walked up 60th back towards Lexington and stopped in at a really nice shoe boutique. We should have known better when we had to be buzzed in and that they did not have ANY prices on anything in the store. I nudged Erin and gave her the eye to politely leave the store after some browsing. If you have to ask the price - you definitely can't afford it. I didn't even want to know.

We stopped in Bloomies to go to the MAC cosmetic counter - Erin needed a new foundation and we were greeted by some really BAD looking female impersonators or drag queens or whatever. I can't recall what the difference is. These two gentleman looked really bad - not the MAC inspiration that I expect to see when you approach the counter. EEEEEWWWWWAH.

We managed to get back to Val's, pick up our luggage and board another taxi cab ride from Hell. You have to have nerves of steel and be very aggressive to drive in the city. I saw my life flash before my eyes numerous times. We managed to get on the train and promptly fell asleep. I woke up two stops before our final destination. Home Sweet Home.

Top of the Rock

Day 2 in NYC. We start the day...well I have to get everyone out of bed first...with breakfast at Annie's which was great and uneventful, went over to the FedEx Kinkos and sent our shopping loot home, and then started our day.

Off to Rockefeller Plaza where we watched the skaters on the ice rink and then went to the "Top of the Rock." What a great view of the Central Park and the Empire State Building. We could see the Statue of Liberty in the distance, but that is exactly what it was...distant. After getting a birds eye view of our surroundings we embarked on further adventures of SHOPPING.

Our first stop on 5th Avenue was at Saks where I visited the Trish McEvoy counter to pick up a few essentials and then over to Sissely to pickup my favorite perfume lotion and body wash...Eau du Soir. Valerie and Erin plant themselves in chairs and proceed to tell me that "we don't shop at counters like this." BULL Sh--T. They just didn't know what to ask for. Interestingly enough, the Sissely counter was demonstrating a new fragrance, Valerie fell in love with it and now she plan to go back and "visit" this counter to pick it up. Oh what a day makes.

After doing minimal damage at Saks, we then walked down/up (I can't figure out where I'm at) 5th Ave visiting St. John, Cartier, Louis Vitton, Nike Town, Trump Tower and Bergdoff Goodman. I'll tell you why New Yorkers stay relatively slim...they walk everywhere! Those city blocks make for a wonderful workout. It is definitely not a place to shop in heels though. After stopping in Cartier to look at the ring Valerie would like to get as an engagement ring (that is another long story), we made a side stop in Nike Town where I picked up a pair of shoes for Ron. On our way out, we saw the cutest walking shoes and boots. Val got the boots and I picked up the black & gray walking shoes. Decided to trade in the boots I was wearing for the walking shoes. Now I can keep up with Val hustling through the streets of NY. We stop in Trump Tower for a sugar fix at Starbucks and have to get a little assertive to gain some seats. I learned that "Sorry" is a universal language as we grab a table right from under the noses of a family from India. Saarrrrrieeeee.

I never knew that going to a public bathroom could be an experience until we decided that we could do better than standing in the VERY long line in Trump Towers by going across the street to Bergdoff Goodman. WOW!!!! Not only is Bergdoff the new stardard for power shopping (WOW!) but any other public bathroom is substandard compared to this. Even the Ritz Carlton has nothing on Bergdoff. An attendant, private stalls, wonderful products to wash your hands with (the milk scrub was absolutely divine), hand towels and more. It was well worth tipping the attendant. I am absolutely in love with this store.

Erin wanted to do some last minute shopping in a store that she could afford so we hop on the subway to go over to Macy's to find a little black dress for Erin. Valerie picks up a pretty red dress but, ALAS, it is not in her size (4), so instead of deciding to try the 6 - OH NO - she picks up the size 2. I said "Wow, Val, that's aggressive." In my head, I'm like BEEYACH! She's says,"Laugh if you want to - watch my smoke - I'm getting in this." And she did get in it - BEEYACH - but what you don't know is that she couldn't sit down, exhale or eat. It is not getting it on that is the problem, it's getting it off. After finding a cute little dress for Erin, we raced back to Val's to change for the dinner & theater.

We went to dinner at the Firebird Russian Room. It was great. Once again, we had wonderful food. Of course, we were the only black people in the entire restaurant. Doesn't anybody try different food - where are all the black people. Always makes me go Hmmmmm. After dinner we went to see The Color Purple. The play was well done and I just had to get the "Hell No" t-shirt. My new phrase for 2007. HELL NO!

After the play, we met a few friends of Val's at a hotel called Dream in their Ava lounge which overlooks Time Square - awesome view. We drink until about 2:00 am - whew! its been a long time since I hung out that late - and then went back to Val's to crash. Gonna take me a bit to recover. Another great day in New York City.

NYC Lessons Learned...

  1. FOCUS...on where you are going or you could easily get hit by a bus or white panel truck. Yeah it almost happened as I look around like a tourist crossing the street.

  2. You can walk yourself thin.

  3. Saks sucks - Bergdoff rocks

  4. There is such thing as a wonderful public bathroom

  5. You can get awesome theater tickets 5 minutes before the show.


New York City - Just Getting There Could Kill You

Today Erin and I set off for NYC for her Birthday Trip to the Big Apple. We are staying with Aunt Valerie and she came back from visiting family in Texas to ride the train up to the city with us. We make it to the train at BWI Airport without event (except for Ron nagging the shit out of us about leaving on time). We get on the train and it is complete pandemonium - everybody seems to be traveling north after the holiday. We barely find seats in the next to the last car. I sit in an empty seat, but there is an coat in the seat beside me. No person - for a LONG time. About 20 minutes into the ride, Fat Bastard shows up from the Cafe Car. OH MY GOD! He has a T-Shirt on that he cut the arms off of - so if he lifted up his arms (which he did) you could get a nice view and smell of his ARM PITTS!!! Lord Jesus help me now. The conductor comes by, takes one look at my stricken face and tells me that 3 seats will be available together in 5 minutes as soon as we get to the next station. Whew!

Well, it's noon now and I'm hungry, so off I venture to the Cafe Car. While standing in line, I notice this women behind me that has this really short buzz cut with a Rat Tail. What -is that some kind of modified Mullet? Anyway, I'm gonna mind my business except these 2 couples sitting at a dinning table decide that they are NOT going to mind their business and proceed to discuss the fashion sense of a rat tail hair cut. The woman's son says "Mommy, those people (pointing) are talking about your hair." Oh Hell! There is definitely not enough room in this car for a scuffle. I couldn't get out of there fast enough as the Rat Tail woman started telling them a thing or two. The rest of the ride was uneventful; however, since we were daydreaming, sleeping and reading we almost missed our stop. Managed to get off just in time.

We arrived safely at Val's house and then went out to 59th Street for some mindless shopping. Went to Nine West - awesome sale! Two pairs of shoes down. Spent the rest of the evening in Bloomingdales where everything (except wallets for some reason) was 30 -60% off. We did wander around the 4th floor - Designers - and I found a wonderful pair of silver St. John slacks and matching jacket that was on sale already and then another 30% off. AWESOME!

We finally decided we were starving and went back to Val's, dropped the bags and went across the street to a really nice Italian restaurant called Cafe Buon Gusto. The food was great! We rolled out of there and up the street to get some snacks from the grocery. We are safely tucked in back at Valerie's place having a carpet picnic.

A great 1st day in the city... till tomorrow.


A Diva Christmas Story

Wow! This has to have been one of the best Christmas's ever! Ron definitely outdid himself this year. We started Christmas up at my mother's place with breakfast and then opened presents there. Cara made out like a bandit with her Dora stuff - and as I overheard in Walmart - "That Dora B--tch is everywhere." Everyone had a great time and the kids all got something off their wish list. We then went downstairs to the "old and busted" section of the house and opened presents. I gave Ron an old fashioned looking record player (actually plays LPs - but also is an AM/FM radio & CD player). He loved it. He has it already set up and dug out his old LPs to play. I was so glad that I got him something he liked. It is so had to pick a gift for the guy who never asks for anything or makes any indication beyond wanting new socks and underwear. It's definitly a challenge. Ron gave me a Nordstrom Gift card with enough on it to do some real damage, a gift certificate to my gym's Spa, and Cartier pen and pencil set as a "congrats" for the new job and then he went behind the couch and pulled out a bag from Littman's Jewelers. He gave me the most beautiful diamond tennis braclet. I thought I had just died and gone to Diva Heaven. I don't think I'm gonna ever take it off. He told me that it was for hanging tough for the three years of construction, never doubting him (even though I did, I was scared - I just never spoke it out loud) always supporting him. Guess I'm going to have to step it up a notch in the "Good Wife" department.

After a few drinks to grid our loins, we loaded up and went over to Grandma Willie's for the Christmas feast. We opened some presents and then sat down to consume great quanities of food for she made enough for a small army. I thought I was gonna explode and then the triptophan kicked in and I passed out for a short time on the couch. We packed up again and then came back to the house.

Now we are just maxin' and relaxin' and enjoying the holiday spirit. I hope all of my friends, family and fellow bloggers had a wonderful and blessed Christmas.

Christmas Eve with Friends or...

...how to sit in a folding chair from IKEA. I spent another Christmas Eve with my girlfriends from high school. Each year we come up with a theme for the gift exchange and my theme was "All is Calm, All is Bright." My mother even threw in one of her famous cakes for each person. After we exchange gifts, we do an ornament contest...which is now gotten out of control. It has really turned into a competition between Karen and I as we usually make our ornaments from scratch. Cathy has given up the ghost on participating since some of us have alledgedly violated the rules of the contest - WHAT RULES.
Anyway, I became the brunt of the jokes because I kept falling out of Jesselyn's Ikea's folding chairs. Well, there is a method to actually sitting in these chairs. You must have both butt cheeks firmly planted on these damn chairs. Not just one or the freakin' thing will topple over and it is really hard to fall off of those chairs looking like a diva. Karen spent the night re-enacting the fall in slow motion. Just remember, those chairs are a two cheek chair.
Merry Christmas.


Christmas Warning


(click Santa)

Christmas has been canceled.
It's all YOUR fault!

You told Santa that you were GOOD this year.AND HE DIED LAUGHING!


On The Twelth Day of Unemployment my True Love Gave to Me...

...A job with a new company! I try not to chuckle at the loss that my old company (yeah the big blue football people) is getting by throwing me out and the fact that a new company is not only willing to pick me up put pay more in the doing. But I can't help myself. HE HE HE. HA HA HA. I'm not starting until the end of January 'cause my official termination date is not until the 20th and out of "respect for people", my new employer does not want to jeopardize my severance package that I am entitled to. I thought that was very considerate. I don't want to jeopardize it either. It's going straight into the bank while I mull over what to do with it. I think I want to roll around in the interest a bit and see what it feels like. Champagne is on me tonight.
Anyway - God is great and always RIGHT ON TIME!!!! This is going to be the best Christmas ever.

No Christmas for You - Foamy Rant

If you haven't experienced a good Rant about life, the world, and stupid people in general, then you MUST experience a good old fashions Foamy the Squirrel Rant. Foamy is the one squirrel who will tell it like it is, say all the things you would love to say to people at work but done, and will just tell the plain, ugly truth just when you need it. A few doses of Foamy and friends and you be able to have a good rant and rave with the best of us.

The Foamy Christmas specials are out and available for viewing at http://www.illwillpress.com/xmasspecials.html
Join Foamy's Minions and be set free...


The Social Life of a 2 Year Old

Cara still doesn't quite understand the whole Christmas deal yet, but she sure is enjoying the festivities that surround it. My mom took Cara to a pottery shop where Santa was working on some gifts. She got to pick an item to paint (she naturally picked one of the more pricey items instead of the little kids plate) and to sit with Santa. She didn't want to sit on Santa's lap - who's that strange fat man - so he came over to the table they were painting at for a picture.

She still gave him the crazy eyes - "back up fat man." She cracks me up with the looks she comes up with. I just wish they came with a pop up box with commentary in them. On Friday, her school had their Christmas "Play". The 2 years old class sang two songs and did a pretty good job considering the attention span. It was real cute.


Thanks Pfizer 2006 Layoff Gear

This requires no more words from me except what was on the website - edited here--

Welcome!Thanks to the SPEED, AGILITY, and NIMBLENESS of the Internet, (CafePress) showcase of 2006 Pfizer LAYOFF Gear is available just in time for the holidays. (CafePress)offers a number of products, fun for the entire Pfizer Pfamily! Whether your happy, sad, mad, or glad about the 2006 layoffs…you will feel extremely satisfied when you send some layoff gear to your fellow ex-colleagues! Sending a Kindler’s List “You’re Fired” or a "Say Hello To My Little Friend" mug to your favorite CEO at headquarters, might be a great start to the Christmas Holiday.
Absolutely HILARIOUS!


JibJab - Nuckin Futs!

These guys from Jib Jab make the funniest video spoofs of just about everything. This is the newest one out and it is pretty funny. View it at www.JibJab.com/nuckin_futs

Two others that are my favorites are Santa Clause: http://www.jibjab.com/originals/originals/jibjab/movieid/67
and Big Box Mart (a spoof on Walmart)http://www.jibjab.com/originals/originals/jibjab/movieid/122
I actually had a cameo in Big Box Mart, but my face is in the crowd and you can't tell unless you knew where I was. I'm in the final scene in the crowd. Enjoy the videos and join the JibJab crew.

15 Years...

Five days have past since I was "Separated" from Pfizer and last night the first wave of grief or mourning shall we say, hit me like a huge wave at the beach and then passed. Since last night, the emotions ebb and flow just like waves at the beach. I was at a Marketing seminar last night, getting paid $150 for giving my opinion on new credit card offers. When it was all over, I was walking through the lobby of the hotel and started thinking about all the meetings that I used to go to with Pfizer there and that all of that is over. I thought about how casually the company just cast aside 15 years as if it was no big deal, no loss to them and I sat in my car and cried for the loss of part of my life - 15 years, award winning years, performance years, hard work & sacrifice years - and the best they could say was "Here's your hat, don't let the door hit you on the way out."

The worst part is, I really don't have anyone to talk to about it. Most of my friends who were retained feel awkward around me; others who were separated as well are dealing with their own issues - some where not as well positioned as I, some are just down right (and rightly so) angry; and everybody else is trying to get me a job immediately and don't understand why I'm not in a rush.

I tried to talk to Ron about it but he has a way of trying to come up with either a solution or of minimizing/dismissing your reaction/feelings/emotions by comparing your situation to something that happened with him and this is how he deals with it. Baby - it ain't all about you and your perfect world you reside in all by yourself. Don't get me wrong. Ron is a wonderful and compassionate man; however, sometimes I just wish he would stop finishing my thoughts, fixing my thought process (as if his is the only way), and dismissing everything that comes out of my mouth. Irritating. I know he means well, but damn - give a Diva a minute. Just this morning he thought I was depressed, so he decided I need to watch a video called "The Secret" and all my problems would be solved. Without saying a word, he pops it in the DVD player in our bedroom. I just turned around and marched out the door. Time for some coffee and blogging. Pissed me off.

Anyway, I'm fine with what happened and I'm looking forward to the future. I don't think it is unreasonable; however, to have a moment or two to grieve for the loss of an entire section of your life. This too shall pass.

Off to Master Step class...that will burn it out of me!


Farewell to Pfizer

Praise God! The blessings of my Lord & Savior are upon me. It is with a glad & joyous heart that I announce my separation from Pfizer. The past 15 years with Pfizer presented me with many opportunities and challenges and I made numerous friends within the organization. Although I will miss the day to day interactions with my Pfizer colleagues and clients, it is now time for me to embark on a new set of professional and personal opportunities.

This blessing has given me the time, opportunity and most importantly - finances - to pursue my true interests, dreams and desires. I always prayed of being in a position to chase my dreams by the age of 40. Well, PRAISE GOD, this has come to pass. "Blessed is the man who perseveres through trials, for once he is approved, he shall inherit the kingdom of God. "James 1:12.

I wish all of my Pfizer colleagues that have been "retained" the best and as a Pfizer stock holder, I will continue to fully support you and the company in your mission to be the most valued company in the world.

Until we meet again...


What is your status?

Tomorrow is the day I (and all of the Account Managers at Pfizer) find out thier "STATUS" Kinda sounds like I'm sitting around waiting to get the results of my HIV or HepC test. I suppose I'm supposed to be depressed an anxious waiting to hear if I've been "retained. Not in the least. Haven't missed a minute of sleep. All this week the senior leadership was finding out what their status was. No big surprises except for one SVP that got slapped from VP of a sales division back to VP of Learning & Development. Sales is where the money is at and how you get to move up in the company. L&D is pure overhead. SAD. Several others were close to retirement and just decided to go now. My regional manager found out his "status" yesterday but hasn't said anything to us yet. Tomorrow morning is when I'll get my phone call and - God Willing - I'll get the "I regret to inform you that you are not being retained" message. What an opportunity it would be to have the generous severance package and have the time to do some soul searching to find out what your next adventure in life will be. Either way, it's okay.
I'm going to the gym in the morning, coming home to wait for my call, off to Let's Dish to prepare some meals for the family (awesome concept) and then out to dinner with Ron to celebrate either way. Of course we are going to our favorite Restaurant - the Iron Bridge...and I promise...I'll be eating the dessert.


Army Navy 2006 & Open House

Saturday, Ron and I hosted our Annual Army Navy Football Party and this time we combined it with an open house. While the game was on and a few die hards watched and rooted for the Army Team, we spent most of the time doing tours of the house in shifts as guest arrived. At one point, we actually thought of having a sign up sheet with times that the tour would leave and we would use one of the Army flags so you could see the tour guide.

Army started out well that day, scoring early but never was able to get their act together after that. We lost AGAIN! Now I think it is 49 wins to 51 wins & 7 ties in favor of Navy. UGGGGGH! What's an alumni to do.

Despite the loss we went on to have a great time. Nevertheless, to add insult to injury on that day, the midshipman that we sponsor calls at 10pm that night and asks if she can come over to hang out - with a few of her classmates. They were given an overnight because they won - AND THAT IS MY PROBLEM HOW? - and didn't want to stay at the academy. Well, we told her sure as long as you can get here yourself. We had a house full of people still and couldn't drive to Annapolis to get her. Kelsy asks if its okay to bring a couple of people with her. A couple means 2 right? I said sure. She says there is 13 of them in total. AHHHH - okay. An hour later, 13 midshipmen show up on my doorstep and proceed to eat everything that isn't nailed down and have their own party. I come down in the morning to find midshipmen laid out everywhere. On the floor, couch, several in the media room - those chairs are comfortable - in the basement. As if they dropped where they lay. They were very nice, clean and respectful. They thought the 2 dozen dunkin donuts and box of joe was the coolest. Amazing how you can impress.

Maybe we can make our comeback next year. Later...


True Blessings Estate

We have finally finished most of the construction on the addition we built to our home. What started out to be a 8 month project turned into 3 years of hell. I can't even start to describe the nightmare we went through. Suffice it to say we went to hell with a short stay in pergatory and made it back to earth with the help of a great contractor and family friend - who is out in the hall right now (10pm) finishing the hallway marble in time for my party tomorrow - as well as the support of close family and friends. Without them, Ron and I surley would have been a basket case. We still have several odds and ends (finishing) work to do, but my mother moved into the in-law suite and out of the basement. We are back at peace. I thought for sure she was going to go Psycho on us any minute if I didn't get her out of the dungeon.
If you would like to view a video slide show of "The Building of a True Blessing" point your mouse to : http://salesdiva.neptune.com/index.html?selectedalbum=salesdiva284962
The completion of this addition is a True Blessing and that is why we named it so.
Well, I have to get back to getting ready for tomorrows Army-Navy Party & Open House.