Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year Ramblings...

~(Lots of links to my 2012 postings - - a sort of Best of 2012 here. I hope you enjoy it) ~

Well, my two favorite "seasons" are pretty much over, at least for a while: Christmas and reenacting.
I must say that I have had a wonderful time with both - just read my December postings and you will see that. But the week following Christmas is always a rough one for me, though this year not as bad because Patty and I went to Greenfield Village for Holiday Nights on the 27th - that extended our celebration a bit longer. Unfortunately, my "Village of solace" is now closed up until mid-April. It's no wonder that I go through a depression that doesn't let up for days...sometimes weeks.
Well, at least I have the annual 21st Michigan Reenactor's Period-Dress Christmas Party to attend, which always lifts my spirits. It is a fine ending to the Christmas Season and you can bet I will certainly be writing about in next week's post including photos.
Christmas Day itself at my home was wonderful, traditional, and quiet. Though my eldest son has been dating a lovely young lady for a few years now, this was what I consider the first real Christmas spent with her, for she will become our daughter-in-law in a few months. My son asked Samantha to marry him this past July, and she said, "Duh!"
Tom...Tom!! The finger, not the toe! Silly kids these days...
How exciting, eh? Yes, we are very pleased with the impending marriage, for I've not seen my son feel this way about anyone before (and she feels the same about him!).  Plus, well, we really like her! Samantha is not a reenactor, nor do I ever expect her to be, but she does enjoy modern and traditional crafts and has shown a growing interest in history. In fact, in early November she asked if she could accompany me on one of my Greenfield Village excursions. She and I had such a wonderful day, and she spent a lot of time speaking with the docents about period crafts and cooking. It was really one of the nicest times I had at the Village this year. And just the fact that she asked to come with me and actually showed an interest...well, what more could a future father-in-law ask for?

My future daughter-in-law at the Eagle Tavern
Samm fits in wonderfully with our family and doesn't find our time-travel excursions odd in the least. Best of all, she doesn't mind her future husband reenacting!
So, yeah, the upcoming wedding is definitely something bright to look forward to and we will be proud to have Samm become a member of our family.
Before the wedding, however, there is the l-o-n-g month of January, and the almost just as l-o-n-g month of February to get through...
But I do have plans to brighten up the late winter and early springtime: come March I plan to have our reenacting unit's period dress civilian meeting, which is always a good time (click HERE to read about our meeting from last year), and I am also putting together another parlor day at my home as I did last year (An Afternoon in the Parlor), though this year I hope for it to be even more of a 'you are there' experience for those attending. Last year the second half of Parlor Day wound up becoming a meeting for women and quilting more than a period gathering of friends.
Parlor Day - March 2012
That will not happen this year - the bar was raised quite high a few weeks ago at Christmas at the Fort and I intend to keep it at that level or above (click HERE and scroll down roughly halfway to Christmas in the City). My living history Christmas celebrations this year - especially at the Fort - were as good as any reenactment as I have ever done, and I plan to make those I attend in 2013 even better.
And that's a point I would like to make: to consistently look back at previous reenactments and say that future reenactments will never be as good as those from previous years shows a sad state of the living historian's mind, if you ask me.
Instead, I will take what I've learned about what made older reenactments so good and apply that to future events, and in this way the events that have not yet taken place will become the best ever.
That being said, let's look over some of the excellent and unique reenactments from 2012, for there were some very fine ones indeed. And there's a lot to learn from them.
To be honest, they were all wonderful in their own way, but, aside from Christmas already mentioned, a few really stand out as being toppermost of the poppermost.
First off, a very different event in 2012 took place in September in the small town of Ionia, Michigan (click HERE). Ionia was the place in which the 21st Michigan Volunteer Infantry originally mustered into the military back in 1862, and we recreated that scenario, again in a 1st person manner, on the 150th anniversary. The best part was the blending of the civilians and military to help make this come alive.
The mustering in of the 21st Michigan in Ionia. We followed the original ceremony as closely as we could.
It was a true recreation of a historic event that one rarely gets to participate in, at least from the little I have read or seen, and that alone made this really something special.
I really enjoy our smaller reenactments here in Michigan, especially when you have an event like Charlton Park in Hastings.  I have repeatedly said that this is consistently in the upper echelons of living history. As a civilian, I have the opportunity to use a period structure or two and make home life of the 1860's come alive. And for the military, it doesn't get much better than this; in fact, my son, Rob - who does National events here and there - says the quality of the Charlton Park battles are right up there with the national battles. Except for the amount of military involved, of course.
How realistic is this? Charlton Park - July 2012
Another of my most favorite of events wasn't even an official event at all: on the Glorious 4th of July a few of us put on our period clothing (in unknowingly 102 degree temperatures!) and traveled to Greenfield Village to spend the most patriotic of American days in that wonderful open-air museum. We roamed the streets, rode the carousel and train, had a fine picnic under a weeping willow near the covered bridge...
But the best part (to me at least) was becoming a part of the Firestone Family for the day. Well, not literally, but we hung around the Firestone Farm for a good chunk of our time in the Village and 'made merry' with our friends there.
The Glorious 4th of July at Firestone Farm...friends all!
During our stay we watched as the Firestone Farm presenters hand-cranked ice cream. How fun, huh? I knew that would be something very cool to have for our reenactments, and upon returning to our 21st century home that evening I went on line and checked around - which literally paid off greatly, by the way - and found one at what I considered to be a reasonable price. So, I bought it...just like the one at Firestone Farm, which is just like an original that you see below here:

And here is a young man trying out my replica:
Yep - it sure did taste good!
There are other fine events that took place over the year including the Memorial Day/Remembrance Day weekend at Greenfield Village, Historic Fort Wayne, Port Sanilac, Dexter, Wolcott Mill, Walker Tavern, and a few others, and all were excellent in their own right. Please click the links to read about each, for I think you'll agree that they are not to be missed!
On another note, a special day and evening took place last April 14th - the 100th anniversary of the Titanic striking the ice burg. We were very lucky to have the Titanic artifacts exhibit right here in southern lower Michigan at the Henry Ford Museum. Of course, we did go that day to pay homage to those who perished exactly one hundred years earlier to the night.
My family on the replica of the Titanic's Grand Staircase on April 14, 2012 - 100 years to the day of the great ship striking the ice burg
A number of our friends came back to our home with us where we watched the James Cameron version of the movie. We didn't dress in 1912 clothing, but the way we spent the day was a fine tribute.

On New Year's, when I hear people say "good riddance" to the previous year (usually it's the same people every year!), I look back on the pluses of each year rather than the minuses, and I usually find a whole lot more to smile about rather than frown.
2012 was no different.
Now, onto 2013! May your New Year be as bright as you would like it to be.
Mine will be as bright as this:
The light of my future past...
...and that suits me just fine.
God Bless.


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