Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas 1860 ~~and~~2011

...Now for a Christmas description from Godey's Lady's Book December 1860:
Miss Moses is ready for the ride from the city to the country
Christmas, the general holiday, has its charms for each. In towns there is much consultation as to toilet, for though the children absorb the morning, and it is proper to be seen at church, it is not less certain that the intimate gentlemen friends of the family will make their appearance by the time a demi-toilet can be dispatched, a little rehearsal of the general reception that marks the New Year. There are symptoms of it in the well-spread lunch table of the luxurious drawing room, in the impromptu grouping of ladies of the house with the first tinkle of the doorbell, and its enjoyment culminates in the entrance of "the coming man," who "takes the liberty of bringing his friend Marks," already well known in society as "superb in the German."
The country cousins, meantime, have already dined! - unfashionable creatures - and enjoyed with keen appetites the ample bountiful Christmas dinner the barnyard and the garden's latest gifts of crisp celery, winter vegetables, and fruit have contributed to. The air is keen and clear, the sky unclouded sapphire, the roads in their prime of sleighing from yesterday's travel over the last cheerful snowstorm. They, too, have "gentlemen friends" who are only too happy to pay their devoirs in the clear open air, and in much merriment the sleighing party is made up to dash along with chiming bells and song and laughter. An upset now and then is counted in with the amusements of the day, so that no one is hurt, and who ever is? by a fall into a yielding snowbank!


In the colonial Giddings kitchen
 December 2011:
Our annual trek to Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village has expanded: by the time the Christmas season is over I'll have been there a total of seven times! You see, this year my period vocal group, Simply Dickens, has been contracted to sing there for six nights! Yes, we have been set up in the gazebo near the Ackley Covered Bridge and perform our old world carols for the throngs of visitors who pass by. Many will stop and listen to the little known carols from Christmas past and, happily, remain there, enthralled by the music of our ancestors.
Simply Dickens in Greenfield Village
For a group like ours, having the opportunity to play in such a place as Greenfield Village during the ever-popular Holiday Nights is akin to performing at Cobo Hall for a major recording artist. Thousands of people stroll past us as they hear Past Three O'Clock, Gloucestershire Wassail, Riu Riu Chiu, The Boar's Head Carol, The Sans Day Carol, and even Silent Night sung in German. Many will stop and listen, and in doing so will get to hear a little bit of the history of each ancient carol sung by the group.
The Ladies Aid Society in Smiths Creek Depot
This Christmas season also saw my wife participating at Holiday Nights as well; she portrayed one from a Ladies Aid Society in Smiths Creek Depot with fellow living historian Lorna Paul. Now, you must understand that, though my wife enjoys reenacting, she's never done it without me with her. This is the first time she had ever taken it upon herself to participate in such a thing on her own. And she absolutely loved it! Not only was she was able to crochet and knit items for our fighting men in blue, but had the opportunity to give the visiting patrons a tour and give a bit of history on the depot itself.
I visited the lovely ladies at the depot

~Note the feather tree~
One thing my wife has never done was to visit the Crocker House Museum in Mt. Clemens, so this year I finally took her there. She was so aglow at the sight of this restored Victorian home. Crocker House is run by my good friend Kim Parr, a true living historian and a wealth of 19th century information. Kim used to be a master presenter at the aforementioned Greenfield Village and has brought her well-gained knowledge from those years over to the Crocker House.
The rooms in Crocker House 
are authentically decorated
This 1869 home is beautifully decorated as it might have been in the late 19th century and, to an extent, in the early 20th century. Teas are held multiple times during the Christmas Season (including my favorite, the Simply Dickens Tea!) and each one is a sell out.

Santa comes down the stairs at Crocker House

The display accurately conveys the scenes from the movie "A Christmas Story."
Another fun Christmas thing we did this year was to visit the Plymouth Historical Museum (in Plymouth, Michigan - not Plymouth Mass.), where they have a pretty fun exhibit of "A Christmas Story" vignettes throughout there Street of Old Plymouth display.

Randy lay there like a was his only defense!
Christmas is what you make it. If it's stress and malls that you think of when Christmas comes around then maybe you should take a step back, breathe a little, and take in all your town has to offer. Christmas is so much more...


Richard Cottrell said...

It would be so much fun to live close so I could take part in all this. I would love to do something simulair here but they all would think I was on drugs, when it's them that needs to be and probably are! I just did a post on my feather trees. Drop by and have a wonderful Christmas, looks like you are on your way. Richard from My Old Historic House.

An Historical Lady said...

Wonderful Ken! It was so much fun 'visiting' these places with you through your post~
Merry Christmas,

tracyJ said...

each year, i learn more and more about old Christmas traditions. it certainly makes for a richer, more enjoyable season and of course, a church service makes Christmas Eve truly magical... in whatever city or town I may find myself. currently, I'm reading "A Christmas Carol" and in searching for a description of the particular Apples (biffins) in the Stave III shop scene, I came across your blog