Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Dreaming to Christmas Reality



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Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat
If you haven’t got a penny then a ha-penny will do
If you haven’t got a ha-penny then God Bless You!

Journey to Christmas Past

Here we are, another year passed, and Christmas truly is coming – the goose is nearly plump enough for roasting, and many of us in the living history community are planning yet another season of 19th century Christmas celebrations. There is quite the line up of reenacting activities throughout the Christmas Season for those of us in the Detroit area of Michigan who choose to participate. For many, becoming ‘Ghosts of Christmas Past’ has already begun; for instance, during Thanksgiving weekend, quite a few of us from various reenacting units put on our 1860's clothing and traveled over the river and through the woods to Crossroads Village in Flint. Christmas at Crossroads is truly breathtaking, for the homes are wonderfully decorated to the period of which they represent – the mid-to-late 19th century. We reenactors became part of this atmosphere, and the visitors were delighted to have us strolling about. And the employees of Crossroads were very glad to have us join in their festivities.

We took a ride on the Huckleberry Railroad

We also enjoyed a 45 minute train ride on the Huckleberry Railroad, and while the car bumped along the track, we sang Christmas carols. After our train journey was completed, it was to the church where we gathered to sing more joyful old hymns.

The heavenly voices sing carols in church

I don’t believe I have ever heard anything more beautiful than these cherished songs, such as Silent Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and Joy To the World, sung in this 19th century chapel to an authentic period organ.
Another special moment was having the opportunity to sit and warm up in the oil lamp-lit parlor of the 1876 Fox House.

Inside the parlor of the 1876 Fox House

Having the opportunity to roam along the wood-plank walks of this beautiful village is a special treat indeed.

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The following day, another group of us living historians, once again, donned our period clothing and ventured out, this time to Greenfield Village. This was the last day the Village would be open in the daytime until April. Attending Greenfield in period clothing on the "off-season" is such a special visit for us, and we are always well received by the visitors and employees.

Grandma Firestone's sewing room - right off her bedroom

As an early Christmas gift (as I consider it to be), we were treated to a rare upstairs tour of the Firestone Farm, which is set up as if the Firestones still lived there. Our docent gave us a thorough detail of each bedroom.
Besides touring the homes decorated for the Christmas Season, we also dined at the Eagle Tavern which, I must state, has the finest food of any restaurant anywhere.

Dining at the 1832 Eagle Tavern is quite the living history experience. Our waitress was also dressed in period clothing.

You may recall a post from last spring where I wrote an article about the Tavern and how the second floor had a ballroom. “The ballroom, which was constructed so that the floor had a slight spring to it to give the dancers the experience of a “delightful sense of exhilaration as they glided over the smooth surface,” was located on the 2nd floor of the building. In fact, it’s still there, springy floor and all.”
Well, guess what? A few of us were given the privilege of going up to the 2nd floor of the tavern and experiencing for ourselves the springy floor, as well as being given a tour of the entire second story! What a treat that was for us! To think that 150 years ago they actually held balls right where we were standing! Please see this post to read for yourself a first-hand account of a ball held there in 1859.

The infamous Eagle Tavern ballroom floor - it's still there up on the 2nd floor

Bringing the past to life…that’s what we experienced this weekend. Sight, sound, smell, and touch.
Reenacting during the Christmas Season brings a special warmth like no other time of the year. Unless you experience it, mere words cannot describe it.
And there’s more to come…stay tuned...


Ghosts of Christmas Past sit on the steps inside the Wright Brothers Home


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4 comments:

Beth said...

Thanks Ken for the invitation. I had a delightful day with you all.

lady Estelle said...

Greetings Ken,
This looks like a glorious day. I wish I was there to participate with you and your friends.
Happy Holidays to you and your family!
Lady Estelle

Shan said...

Dearest Ken,

I just love your blog! I found it during one of those "rabbit hole" afternoons when I started at one blog and ended up finding yours!

I live in Colorado in my husband's Great-Grandfather's home. It was built in the 1890's. I have had many groups in for tours over the years.

I love to dress in the Victorian style and incorporate that look into my everyday attire. I have complete outfits when I entertain here at home.

You have inspired me (and my husband) to begin to look for events away from our home for our time-travel fix! We may become costumed docents at our wonderful local living history park & museum.
(It is nothing like you have near you...but it will have to do.)

I look forward to further posts and hope you will share more pictures of your darling parlor...you have done a very nice job with the decorating.

Of course, I want to see more re-enacting photos too!

Yours so kindredly,
Shan
http://honeyhillfarmshan.blogspot.com

P.S. I am having a Victorian Holiday Home Tour over on my blog...please come for a visit!

Historical Ken said...

Thank you all for the kind comments.
Shan, and thank you for telling a little about yourself. I, too, become inspired from other's blogs and learn so much.
You have a beautiful home - I bet your period gatherings are great!
I am very blessed to have so much history within relatively short drives from my home. I am sure there is quite a bit of history surrounding you. When you find a period building, see if you can use it for a Victorian gathering with other like-minded people.
Do you belong to a reenacting unit?