Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas Time's A-Comin'

~These two pictures are of my house at Christmas Time~

There are many folks out there who cannot seem to enjoy themselves at Christmas. I found the main reason for this is because when they think of Christmas, they think of spending money on gifts. They think of hearing the same ten Christmas songs over and over and over. They think of fighting the crowds at the over-crowded mall.
Well, I'm here to change that.
You see, I love Christmas, and for those of you who know me know this to be true. The reason I love Christmas is because I enjoy the holiday not only for what it is, but for what it's supposed to be. In other words, we do our best to have a Currier & Ives Christmas.
Please allow me to explain...
In a way, my wife and I (and our four children) have taken all of the elements that supposedly makes Christmas so special and applied them to our own celebrations. For instance, me and my two oldest sons take part in the Holly Dickens Festival every year, where we don period clothing and give the patrons a "Christmas Carol" Dickensian Christmas, ripe with the characters from Dickens' book, including Scrooge, Cratchit, Jacob, Marley, Tiny Tim, and Charles Dickens himself (see my previous Dickens/Holly blog ).
We also head out to Greenfield Village for their "Holiday Nights" Christmas event. (See my Christmas Music blog for photos taken at GFV's Holiday Nights). Greenfield Village truly decks the halls of the homes there in wonderfully accurate period Christmas fashion. Carolers, mummers, a brass band, skaters, vendors of greenery, and, of course, all the sights and sounds of Christmas past. Santa and reindeer, a 'winter quarters' Civil War reenacting unit, horse-drawn carriage rides, and the homes, inside and out, decorated for their time, with docents explaining the old-time practices of Christmases long ago. My wife and I have been going to Greenfield Village for Christmas since 1983, and we never tire of it (although it has changed immensely over the years).
In our own home we make the attempt to have an old-fashioned Christmas. We cut down our own Christmas Tree every year, many times bringing friends along to enjoy our tradition with us. The first weekend in December we head up to Western's Tree Farm off Applegate Road in Sanilac County, saw in hand, and find that perfect tree - always a short needle spruce - to decorate in our own Victorian style. A tractor or horse-drawn wagon ride takes us out to where the grove of trees are, and picks us up when we have chopped ours down.
And we always decorate it that same night, with wonderful hammered dulcimer Christmas music playing in the background. Yes, we do put real candles on our tree (see the picture above) and, yes, we do light them once a year (with all kinds of water buckets about just in case) - I have been doing that for over twenty years. We also have the tiny electric lights as well.
And, we decorate our home in a pseudo-Victorian style. Friends of ours have come over just to get that old-time feeling.
Yes, we do partake in some 'contemporary' traditions as well, including watching Christmas DVD's. Of course, my favorites are the various "A Christmas Carol" movies available. My favorite version is with George C. Scott, followed by the Alistair Simm, Patrick Stewart (awful Scrooge but a great Cratchit family), and Seymour Hicks. The Gene Lockhart version is OK but not one of my favorites.
We also watch the Walton's original Christmas movie (that launched the series), and one called "I'll Be Home For Christmas" that takes place during WWII (on VHS only so far), and, yes, even Jim Carey's "The Grinch."
There are a few others, but these are the main ones. Oh, by the way, there is an excellent foreign Christmas movie, "Joyouex (sp?) Noel," about the Christmas reprieve during WWI.
We like to watch the Christmas TV shows that I have on video - Charlie Brown, Grinch (cartoon), Twilight Zone, Andy Griffith, Bewitched, etc.
Christmas Day is when we put on our Civil War era clothing and, especially while eating dinner, have a completely candlelit house. A feeling like no other.
But, best of all is when we sit quietly with all the lights off except the Christmas lights, and just enjoy the season. This is a great time to reflect and to clear your mind of all your stress.
This is also a very good time to remember the Reason for the Season.
It's really not hard to have a truly Merry Christmas when you allow yourself to do so.
Give it a try - you just might enjoy yourself.
(Order your gifts from - avoid the crowds and save loads of dough!).

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