A History of Achievements
- By: CM Boots-Faubert
- Posted 26th Jan 2012
History is an odd and very human creation that is often malleable, being more the product of how we remember events to have taken place rather than how they actually did take place. There is a phrase to describe that -- it is called "popular history" -- where the more literal sort that is based upon a combination of observation and contemporary records is often referred to as the "academic history" and, not surprisingly, the latter sort is often less interesting than the former...
Take the history of the Christmas Tree in the United Kingdom and America for example. While the academic history is very much an accurate depiction of its spread from Germanic culture to England and, a few seasons later, to America, the popular history suggests that it is an age-old tradition that simply always has existed.
The truth about the Christmas Tree in America is actually an amusing story in that it did not always exist, it was not always a part of the tradition of Christmas in Colonial America, and it was nearly a decade following its introduction before it became the default location for the stacking of Christmas gifts! While this article is about Gamer Score and Achievements and not Christmas Trees the story of the arrival of the Christmas Tree in America actually helps to illustrate Achievements and Gamer Score so what the hell, we may as well tell it!
The Arrival of the Christmas Tree in America
Did you know that the Christmas Tree was first introduced to the United Kingdom as the result of one of the greatest love stories of the 19th Century? Seriously!
The woman that we think of today as Queen Victoria was born Alexandrina Victoria on the 24th of May 1819, and was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III. her mother (who she did not get along with) was the German-born Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and due to the fact that all three of Prince Edward's brothers (who were in the line of succession above him) passed away with out creating a legitimate heir (that is not to say that they did not father children mind you, just none with their wives) -- and when, just 18-years-old, she inherited the throne it was as Queen of a constitutional monarchy in which the Sovereign held very few direct political powers.
In that era it was not uncommon for the marriages of Royals to be entirely arranged affairs, often used to strengthen the ties between other Kingdoms and countries with an eye towards maintaining peace or in settling some other political issue and, believe it or not, this worked more often than it failed. The pairing of Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was originally just that sort of arrangement. Though that marriage was, in every sense of the word "arranged" it turns out that for very good reasons it was widely considered to be a union of love rather than politics. History tells us that at some point between Victoria's acknowledgment that the pairing was suitable to her while still a teenager, and her acceptance of the union as an adult and as the Queen, in three brief years the pair got to know each other through a few meetings and regular correspondence, and they fell in love.
As part of the plot to get her married and so remove the influence that Victoria's mother held in the palace, a second visit was arranged in 1839 by the scheming group of aristocrats in the hopes that when the pair again met -- now that Albert was a handsome young man rather than a pimply-faced teenager -- Victoria would both accept Albert and, more important, view him as the choice of lesser evils, and agree to a hurried marriage -- an event that the schemers thought that they had succeeded in pulling off when, just five days after his arrival, on the afternoon of October 15th, 1839, Victoria asked Albert to marry her (that is right, SHE asked HIM to marry HER).
The imagined rushed marriage did not, however, take place as was hoped; instead they found that their Queen was taking a long-view of the entire affair, preferring to first get to know this very intelligent and pleasant young man who was as well-read as she, and who shared many of the same interests. As a result of this second meeting, following her proposal (which Albert accepted) Victoria took a more intense and active interest in many of the mundane aspects of his life, advising his parents and minders about how She would like him to be educated, what She desired him to study, and where She desired him to be schooled. The pair almost instantly began correspondence, often writing daily to one another, and they were married on the 10th of February 1840, with Victoria's mother being evicted from the palace on February 11th.
After a long and lingering honeymoon period that took them through Spring and Summer and well into the Fall, the Royal Couple returned to the palace with Victoria very clearly expecting a child, and as Christmas 1840 approached Albert began preparing their personal quarters by decorating for the holiday with the traditional trappings that he grew up with. The Queen fell instantly in love with the Christmas Tree that Albert decorated for her, and a new Royal Tradition was born, along with a daughter.