Monday, December 28, 2015

Going Home: Time Traveling Through Christmas Past

The light of Christmas
At this festive season of the year, my mind is in a whrrr and a whirl. I am busier time-traveling between Thanksgiving and early January than any other time. Beginning with my family tradition of cutting down our Christmas Tree, to my living history 1860s immersion at Christmas at the Fort, to the performances with my old world carols vocal group Simply Dickens, to visiting and working at Greenfield Village during Holiday Nights, it seems I am on a constant journey of immersing myself into Christmas past in one form or another, living out my childhood dream of recreating Old Christmas.
Seriously, this year, aside from cutting down a Christmas Tree (modern dress for this, by the way, but on a horse-drawn wagon), I have been absorbed fully into Christmas Past 14 out of 31 days in sight and sound - and, yes, all the while in period clothing.
I am in old-time garments more often this time of year than in present-day clothing, I believe.
Go figure.
So, rather than write an excessive essay on Christmas past, for I already have written about some of these time-travel experiences more extensively in previous posts (links at the bottom of this article), I thought it might be fun to make this a historic Christmas celebration through photos and show a few favorite pictures from my Christmastide time-travel excursions, most of which were taken this year at Greenfield Village's Holiday Nights - including some I had posted earlier this month.
Let's begin at the beginning of the season, when my family and I headed out to cut down our Christmas tree:
This was the horse-drawn wagon ride we took when we went to cut down our Christmas tree.
Yes, we cut our tree down rather than going to a lot on the corner of an busy intersection. It's a family affair and we make a day of it.
(No artificial trees in this house!)
Hauling the tree unanimously chosen by my family...

...and here it is, all decorated and candle lit.
And, just to show you that, yes, we are a 21st century family as well (typing on a computer here!), check out my tree with the modern colored lights.
Contrary to popular belief, we do have electric lights on our Christmas tree. Yes, we actually do live in the 21st century - - sometimes!

Then one foggy Christmas Eve...
It wasn't Christmas Eve when I took this picture, but it certainly was foggy! After a few years of very cold temps and record-breaking snow, we've been having a warm spell here in Michigan.
This is Main Street in historic Greenfield Village, and the fog was as thick as pea soup.

Here is another photo of Main Street in Greenfield Village, but without the fog. The evening sky as the sun set was particularly striking on the night I snapped this picture.

It's Christmas time in the city...

Even though the visitors were dressed in modern clothing, the festive atmosphere on Main Street definitely felt like Christmas in the early 1900s.

Now we'll head back in time, to the 1860s...
Here are a few of the civilians members of the 21st Michigan, all showing up at Greenfield Village on the same night to not only enjoy Christmas in the Village, but to experience it as well by wearing period clothing.
For those of you who are unaware, the wearing of historic clothing adds so much to any museum visit.

The ladies of my vocal group, Simply Dickens, struck a pose during that same very foggy evening as the picture you saw earlier.

I took a fine photo with a fine man. Bill is a long-time employee of Greenfield Village, and he is also one of the hosts inside the 1831 Eagle Tavern, one of my favorite places to eat.

Diana enters the Eagle Tavern.

~~Christmas at Historic Fort Wayne~~
My time-traveling family of the 1860s. We celebrated Christmas the way our ancestors did: singing old carols, decorating the feather tree, playing parlor games, reading stories aloud, and eating a fine meal.

Three guesses who this is, and the first two don't count (and, no, it's not Woodrow Wilson!)

At the Smiths Creek Depot. 
We were actually going for a Jack the Ripper-type photo here but, well, it didn't quite turn out that way. I suppose that's a good thing, for I don't need to be associated with that man.

Waiting for the train to come in...

Besides performing with my vocal group Simply Dickens, I also presented as part of the Soldiers Aid Society of the Civil War era inside the 1858 Smiths Creek Depot for Holiday Nights. I really enjoy presenting in this historic building. 
Maybe one day...

My wife also became a presenter at the Smiths Creek Depot, and has been here for Holiday Nights for around five years.
The very patriotic apron she is wearing was a Christmas gift I gave her a few years back, and she receives continuous compliments on it.

Hey, now, wait a second here. Something weird is going on - is that a colonial time-traveler who popped right in the middle of this 1860s photograph?
Might that alter something in the sequencing of time and space?
Only time will tell...

Ah! I've been spotted----hey! Gimme back my tricorn hat! There shall be no mixing of time---who knows what danger---oh what the heck! Go on and wear it!

Some of the ladies from the 21st Michigan thought it might be fun to go ice skating while wearing their period clothing. They did have fun, and the appearance of women from the 1860s skating on a rink was quite a sight to see!
This little guy did pretty good as he skated near his mother...

...that is, until he fell on his bottom!

Three of our skating ladies.
Oh what joy it was to watch!
I think a sleigh ride while wearing period clothing should be something on our bucket list, don't you?

What I attempted to do with these two pictures I took of Vickie and John kind of gives off a pretty neat effect - - eerily period.

Chimney Sweeps!

Next, let's jump ahead about 80 years into the future from the 1860s to the 1940s...and to another war - -
Those of us who are in the 21st Michigan do not always stick with one time-period, as you know from my own travels to the 1770s. And just as I enjoy doing the Revolutionary War era, 21st Mi Civil War member Jillian also likes to do World War II. 
As we peak through the glass of an old English cottage, we can see Jill representing the American Red Cross while stationed over in England in 1942.

While inside an authentic transplanted-to-Dearborn English cottage originally from the Cotswold region of England, Jill explains to the visitors about WWII life during war time for the citizens and soldiers of that country.

An American soldier tries to relax at Christmas time while stationed in England in 1942.
I tried to make it look like it was taken back in '42. Did I succeed?

~The Cotswold Christmas Tree~
They did a fine job with the period lights and decorations...

...and with the gifts a soldier might find under the tree, including chocolate candy bars and, yes, a pack or even a carton of cigarettes (as seen here in this advertisement from the early 1940s):
 Jill is planning to form an authentic WWII Pinup Girl living history group - - - and knowing how well she portrays herself as a Civil War civilian, I have a feeling her WWII group will be pretty darn awesome.
Jill the Pinup Girl!

But what happens when two Civil War reenactors meet up while dressed in clothing from differing periods in history outside of the 1860s?
Wow---a time-space continuum - - the earth thrown off its axis...the altering of life as we know it...
Or just shock from the two time-travelers:
"Hey! Why are you dressed like that??"
Our chronology may no longer have meaning, we might not easily tell if something has happened before or after, or even if there will be a cause or an effect.
"Hey! Why is he/she dressed like that??"
Yikes – I must get back to one time, and quick! 
But...what time is my time?
To the past or to the present...
Oh, where is Dr. Sam Beckett when you need him...?
~By the way, this is a photo of my real present day family, taken on Christmas Eve 2015. See my daughter-in-law, great with child, standing on the right (with the Santa shirt)? The very next day - Christmas Day - she had a baby...our 1st granddaughter! Now my grandson is a big brother!
What a fine gift for the entire family!

(No, my wife is not really that short. She is kneeling. Or is she...?)

Stay tuned for more of my time-travel adventures...and Happy New Year, whichever year that may be...

Links to Christmas Past:

These Are the Shadows of Christmases That Have Been - Christmas at the Fort 2015
 Enjoy Christmas with an 1860s family. Very real...and full of immersion.

Christmas and Thanksgiving 2014: The Culmination of the Fall Harvest and the Beginning of the Christmas Season
Enjoy Thanksgiving Past at Greenfield Village, and Christmas at Crossroads.

Christmas at Greenfield Village 2014 (part 1): Smiths Creek Depot (and Other Historical Holiday Happenings)
Such an enjoyable time to spend Christmas in a mid-19th century train depotas part of an 1860s Soldiers Aid Society. Plus, Christmas at Waterloo Farm and with Simply Dickens to boot!

Colonial Christmas
A history of Christmas in America's colonial past.

Christmas Past: A Photographic Journey
A relaxed journey through Christmas past with lots of pictures taken at Greenfield Village and other places (including of Simply Dickens).

Fort Wayne 2013: An Immersion Experience: Christmas at the Fort  
Probably the most amazing Christmas time-travel experience I've had thus far. Wow!

Having a Historic Christmas in My Own Home 
Decorating my home in an authentic 19th century style.

Waterloo Farm 2014 and Other Historical Holiday Happenings
Such an enjoyable time to spend Christmas in a mid-19th century parlor dressed in period clothing. Plus, Christmas at Greenfield Village and with Simply Dickens to boot! 


1 comment:

Gina @ VictorianWannaBe said...

Ken, I think you guys have the most fun of anybody I know! Great post and wonderful pics!
Wishing you and yours a blessed 2016, or should I say 1866? or 1830? or 1855?