Last night was the Christmas party of the Civil War reenacting unit that I belong to, the 21st Michigan. What's nice about this party is that it is period dress and held in a 19th century schoolhouse. And most members do come dressed appropriately, wearing their finest Civil War era clothing. Even President and Mrs. Lincoln attend! The food we have is, for the most part, period correct: venison stew, turkey, ham, beef stew, homemade stuffing, squash, turnips, beets, mashed potatos, as well as many different kinds of desserts. And wassail to drink! To cut down on garbage, we ask our members to bring their own accurate plates, bowls, silverware, and glasses.
After our feast, there is a 'white elephant' gift exchange for the adults (not period correct, as far as I know - especially the gifts! - but fun!) and a gift giving for the children.
Some of our very talented members provide the music for us throughout the evening by performing as a stringed quartet - old world Christmas music as well as some beautiful classical pieces. And then the final sing-a-long of Civil War era tunes such as "Just Before the Battle Mother," "Listen to the Mockingbird," "Lorena," "Battle Cry of Freedom," "Goober Peas," "Wayfaring Stranger," and even one of Mr. Lincoln's favorites, "Dixie's Land," ends the evening on a high note.
Yes, there were, unfortunately, many things that were farby: the electric lights (fire marshall will not allow us to have candles or oil lamps lit inside this historic building), the way the food was cooked (slow cookers, etc.), the Christmas Tree lights, and even a few people! But, just as with most reenactments, one must learn to over-look these things which are not period correct and concentrate on what is.
All 'n' all, it was quite a festive evening!
This is a wonderful way to end the Christmas season, a period party in a period location, and I am very happy that the unit celebrates in this manner.
And now, on to the clear slate of 2009, where I pray that "better times are coming" (as the old Stephen Foster song goes).