Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The 21st Michigan Annual Period-Dress 1860s Christmas Party

Okay,  this is not a period party in the strictest sense but,  rather,  a party where the strong underlying theme is 1860s:  our clothing,  the food we ate,  and our entertainment were all Civil War-era based.
It was a wonderful gathering of reenacting friends  - and good friends at that - who enjoy doing such things in a fun and period atmosphere.
That's what it's all about,  Charlie Brown.

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The first  "period"  Christmas party the 21st Michigan Civil War reenacting unit held was in 2005.
Now,  the unit members held Christmas parties before 2005,  but they were at a local sports bar,  modern dress,  pizza & beer,  and nothing unusual or showing of  anyone being reenactors.
Just your average pizza,  beer,  and pop party.
I am proud to say that I came up with the idea of having a period-dress party to be held in an actual 19th century schoolhouse located near where I live.
The initial idea came to me the year before when I had a sort of pseudo period-dress party at my own house,  and it went along pretty good...for a first attempt.  This party gave me the inkling to try it on a larger scale.  So when I first proposed to have a 21st Michigan membership Christmas party,  I received questionable looks;  a few members more or less scoffed at the idea.  But they begrudgingly gave in to my pleas and approved it,  but  "only for this one time."
I grabbed that opportunity with both hands!
And here we are,  all these many years later,  still dressing period to celebrate the holiday with the 21st Michigan Christmas party.
The greater number of  our membership truly enjoy dressing up in their 1860s finery in this manner.  And though most of the food is prepared using modern cooking techniques,  it still is traditional in nature.
And,  oh! so good!
Since pictures are worth a thousand words,  or so I've been told,  I have a several volume novel for you to check out...a sort of photo journal of how it all went this year.
I hope you like it:
That's it - - that's the old Halfway Schoolhouse,  built in 1872 and 
housed school children until 1921.  Now it houses the East 
Detroit Historical Society...and 1860s Christmas parties.
(photo taken by Jennifer Long)

Here is our annual group picture of the attendees.
There were a number of our members who,  unfortunately,  were 

not able to come to this year's gathering.  But there were others 
who had not been able to join us for a while  (as well as some 
first-timers)  who were able to be there.

And we had music!

Pearl and Violet performed some wonderful Christmas Carols 
such as  "Joy To The World,"  "Deck the Hall,"  "God Rest Ye 
Merry,  Gentlemen,"  and  "Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella."

And we had food - - period food,  though cooked by modern methods.

Everyone brings their own tableware to this party.

After grace was spoken,  the feasting commenced.

We had ham,  stuffing,  apples & onions,  mac & 
cheese,  pork & apple pie,  chicken,  fried corn,  bubble 
& squeak,  mashed parsnips,  bread...

...we also had beets and pickles,  sweet potato pie,  pumpkin pie,  a trifle,  
a berry pie,  mountain cake,  ice cream,  ginger cake,  cookies...
Quite a feast!

And we also had dancing!

While Pearl played the fiddle,  many members lined up to do 
the Virginia Reel.

I wish my video had turned out - I was moving too much!

Whispers about which boy might ask them to dance.

We also danced the Spanish Waltz.

Jillian and I danced to this one.

I must be honest - I am not much of a waltzer.
But I do enjoy this particular dance.

I also enjoy the monkey,  the frug,  the twist,  the watusi,  
the jerk,  and many other  '60s dances...wait--------wrong  '60s!

I always invite a few members back to my home following the party for a bit of an afterglow.
Now,  you may recognize this table-top feather tree from 
Christmas at the Fort of a few years ago.  And since everyone 
here but Ian the Clown-Nose Clown participates in that event,  
they sort of recreated our parlor scene right in my own home!
Even our servant,  Carrie!
It is unfortunate that I cannot invite everyone over to my house,  but as you can see in the following picture,  we have our large Christmas Tree still up and it takes up quite a bit of space,  allowing for only a few to come by.
I've been doing this afterglow since the very first period-dress 
Christmas party held way back in  '05. 

My patriotic wife - and her tea.

Many of our conversations centered on previous fun at 
reenactments,  retelling stories of our immersion events.
I'm not exactly sure why,  but this year's party seemed to be a bit lighter and more relaxed than we've had of recent years.  I hope this is a positive sign for the reenactments coming up,  for I always look forward to a grand year in the past.
One thing I have been very proud of is that we,  the members of the 21st Michigan,  have such a large group and yet we all get along relatively wonderfully.  We've had some people who joined us in years past and seemed bent on creating drama.  Thus,  we ignored them and they soon left.  I want nothing to do with that.  No,  we are not perfect and,  like nearly every other unit,  have our problems here and there.  But unless we have someone with loose lips who likes to sink ships,  we keep it amongst our group and work it out as adults,  not gossipy fools.
We also do not judge others.  Instead we help them along and guide them,  allowing them to improve and find their way rather than telling them what to do.
Now,  I have one more period party to go,  and you will see that posting next week right here,  for it will be a report on my colonial Christmas party occurring this weekend.

So,  until next time,  see you in time.

~   ~   ~

1 comment:

The Victorian Girl said...

Really enjoyed seeing your 1860's Christmas gathering!