Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Decade of Celebrating Christmas Past as a Living Historian

Tara the servant girl:  "How do you do that,  sir?"
Charles Dickens:  "Do what?"
Tara:  "Make a world come alive?  I could almost see and hear them people."
(from the movie,  "The Man Who Invented Christmas")

As living historians,  this is our ultimate goal:  to  "Make a world come alive".
It doesn't happen overnight.  It can take years to do such a thing.

And even then...
But when it does happen - - - - there's little else that can compare.


Many do their Christmas Dreaming a little early.  There are those who dream of a White Christmas.  Some even dream of sugar plums dancing in their heads.
As for me,  I have always - always - dreamt of the days of Christmas past and what it would have been like to celebrate a Christmas of long ago.
Travelling to Christmas past
From the time I was a tiny tot throughout my adult-hood,  I had made the attempt to replicate Christmas's from the time of Charles Dickens,  whether through reading the old stories such as  "A Christmas Carol,"  watching movies ("Carol" of course,  and a host of others),  as well as listening to the old traditional music.
I just didn't know how to actually take part and experience Christmas past.
But now that I am a living historian and have learned  (and still learning)  how to bring back to life an era of which no one alive today can say they have personally witnessed,  my Christmas Dream has become reality.
You see,  it's easy to have a bunch of reenactors hanging around in period clothing looking like...well....a bunch of reenactors hanging around in period clothing!  But it takes time and effort and a special want  to transport themselves - by sight,  sound,  smell,  touch,  and action - to a long ago past...to actually be  there.  And,  thus,  present a fairly accurate depiction of history.  I believe our group that you are about to meet is one such group of time-travelers.
(I'm not trying to sound big-headed here.  It's just that everything tends to go so well...pert-near perfect,  for we have such a strong will for it to be so).
So let's go back and reminisce about Christmas past - long past - and see the recreation I've been blessed to have been a part of.
And continue to be a part of,  for we do continue on!
Our journey will start with the year 2009,  for before that my Christmas reenacting was pretty low-key and mostly not as earnest.  But 2009 was the year that my spending time in Christmas past really began to go beyond anything I've done before,  and truly has set the course for my future Christmas past celebrations.
The first stop is at the Christmas at Fort Wayne event,  an actual restored fort and its on-site homes,  most built in the 1800s in Detroit.
2009 - My first Christmas at the Fort:  
Yes,  this was my first time actually experiencing 
Christmas past in a sort of living history manner. 
This Christmas at the Fort in 2009 was nothing like the way we do it today.  But it was a fine introduction for me to work in such a capacity.
2009 - Christmas at the Fort:
I was honored to join such a group of living historians and I 
brought along my mail writing utensils to show and speak to the 
modern visitors about the importance of writing letters to the men 
off fighting in the Civil War.

The Civil War unit I belong to,  the 21st Michigan,  has a period-dress 1860s Christmas party,  and it is a grand party indeed,  including food,  dancing,  and even a gift exchange.
I started hosting it in 2006 I believe,  and it continues in much the same way today.
2009 - 21st Michigan Christmas Party:
Every-so-often member Dave Tennies will pull out his  "Union 
Santa"  outfit - just as depicted on the cover of an 1864 Harper's Weekly.

In 2010,  I bumped up my game a bit.  In previous years I'd only done Greenfield Village  (just dressing up and walking around),  the 21st Michigan period-dress Christmas Party,  the Holly Dickens Festival  (it was/is a festival,  and not a reenactment),  and,  as of 2009  (as you just seen),  Christmas at the Fort.
But 2010 added a bit more to this adventurous Christmas foray into the past:
2010 - Crossroads Village:
Sandy Root was able to have quite a few of us 
participate in this Victorian open-air museum's Christmas 
celebration,  and we had a splendid time indeed.

2010 - Crossroads Village:
We even got a train ride.

2010 was also the year I first created a family scenario.  This was done at the wonderful historic Waterloo Farm where,  the previous summer  (based on an upcoming idea I had for Christmas at the Fort),  I mentioned to the Waterloo Historical Society of presenting as an 1860s family at Christmas time.
They loved the idea!
And so here was that initial introduction to everyday life on an 1860s farm in Michigan...at Christmas:
2010 - Waterloo Farm:
I got to call this beautiful mid-19th century house my home for a day.

"It was like being in a Christmas card!" - Jean Cook

2010 - Waterloo Farm:
My wife,  Patty  (on the right),  and good friend,  Jean Cook  (on 
the left)  preparing to knit and crochet items for the soldiers of 
Michigan who were off fighting in the south.

2010 - Waterloo Farm:
Larissa was with us as well.
She hadn't begun portraying my wife quite yet,  

but she did a fine job playing carols on the pump organ.
There was no Christmas at the Fort in 2010 - I forget now the reason,  but Waterloo Farm filled in nicely.

 So now we shall head into Christmas 2011,  and we'll begin where we left off from last year - at Waterloo Farm,  where our little troupe of living historians increased a bit.
2011 - Waterloo Farm:
My wife Patty was there,  and so was my daughter.
Yes,  that is a real baby in the cradle.  Mike & Larissa's first-
born joined us for his very first reenactment.

2011 - Waterloo Farm:
Sandy Root also joined us this year,  and my wife brought along 

her spinning wheel,  a fixture on any farm of the mid-19th century.

After that brief one year hiatus in 2010,  2011 found us back at Historic Fort Wayne for Christmas at the Fort.
And this year would be different.
Again...stepping up the game.
2011 - Christmas at the Fort:
The white house you see there,  fully restored,  would be our new 
abode,  showing a well-to-do northern family's Christmas 
celebration of the 1860s.

2011 - Christmas at the Fort:
No Christmas tree quite yet,  but we were beginning to feel our 
way into becoming a  "family."
This was our first year actually having a domestic servant as part of our group of living historians.
She was included in our scenarios here and there:  while we had a group of visiting public inside,  our servant would stop what she was doing and take a peek inside the parlor to view the celebrating.  I,  of course,  would chastise her and send her back to her duties of which I pay her for.
The tour group loved this.
2011 - Christmas at the Fort:
Our servant really did clean,  by the way.

2011 - Christmas at the Fort:
Our ever-growing and changing living historians.
We did not have our roles quite yet,  but we were getting there,
for our  'core'  was building.

Over at Greenfield Village,  my wife,  Patty,  was working as part of the Holiday Nights event,  portraying a Michigan Soldier's Aid Society member preparing to ship items off to the boys in blue for the Christmas holiday.  Though I was not a part of this situation,  I did dress in clothing of the same period and paid her a quick visit at the train depot.
2011 - Greenfield Village:
My wife and I at the Smiths Creek Depot
Lorna Paul was her partner for these Smiths Creek Depot events.

2011 - 21st Michigan Afterglow party:
After the 21st Michigan Christmas party,  I sometimes have a few 
friends over to continue the visiting and celebration of the night's 
festivities.  I often will have the room lit only by oil lamp and candles.

Now we head to 2012 and,  as you shall see,  the growth and expansion in my celebrating Christmas past continues in areas I've not been in before  (so to speak).  Most of who I reenact with are like me,  and truly want to make this all so much more real.
Even my vocal group,  Simply Dickens,  helps to bring Christmas past to life.
2012 - Simply Dickens at Holiday Nights:
This was the first year my period vocal group,  Simply Dickens  -
purveyors of old world Christmas Carols - sang for Holiday 
Nights inside the walls of Greenfield Village.  Here is a picture of 
vocalist Heidi and myself taken during a break in between sets.

We also headed back to the farm - Waterloo Farm - to celebrate Christmas 1862.  This was our first real adventure into 1st person during our Christmas gatherings.  In other words,  it almost seemed as if we were there,  back in that second December of the Civil War on a farm enjoying the period after harvest time where,  though plenty of work still needed to be done,  it also was a more relaxing time of year.  You see,  once we completed harvesting our crops,  I worked on banking up my home and farm by insulating the north sides of the house as well as each outbuilding for protection against the coming winter.  I also prepared our sleigh and its runners to ensure its readiness for travel over hill and dale.  Of course,  my daughter shined the jingling bells up nicely,  and I can just see them glistening in the rare sunlight - or even moonlight - this coming January and February as we glide along the snow-covered roads when they will jingle all the way.
This was part of the story I told the visiting public who would come through the historic home.
2012 - Christmas at Waterloo Farm:
The populace here,  or the  "family gathering,"  if you will,  grew 
even more,  and the attempt for 1st person began in earnest,  more 
with stories about our everyday lives with hints of us as a real 
family.  Of course,  my actual wife was with us,  and though she 
enjoyed this,  it was still difficult for her to attempt 1st person.

The very next day after Waterloo Farm,  we found ourselves back at Fort Wayne inside the elegant Commander's House.  Sandy Root became my sister here and,  in this year's scenario,  was the owner of the home.
And there was another change that just sort of came about in a natural sort of way during conversation:
2012 - Christmas at the Fort:
For the first time,  Larissa and I portrayed husband and wife.  
And Kristen,  became our eldest daughter.  My actual daughter,  
Rosalia,   (on the left)  also became our  daughter.
Our backstory is that my family here traveled from the 
farm for this big city Christmas visit.

2012 - Christmas at the Fort:
And so,  there we were,  celebrating,  as a family with roles and 
everything,  Christmas past in such a way that made it very real.
The core of our 1860s family was nearly complete.

2012 - Christmas at the Fort:
Yes,  Carrie carried on as the servant girl for her second year.
And this young domestic was given,  by her employer  (my sister),  without choice,  a new name - the name of Agnes,  for it was felt Agnes would be an easy name to remember.  Renaming servants was a common practice at the time,  as I had learned this year.
So from this point on,  whenever we get our reenacting family together,  Carrie becomes Agnes.
2012 - Christmas at the Fort:
And here is the reenacting family of 2012 at the Fort.
But 2012 was not over yet,  for the 21st Michigan still had the period dress Christmas party.
And I still had the afterglow at my house!
2012 - 21st Michigan Christmas Party:
Such a fun period time.
And I love the fact that everyone  "dresses."

The following year,  2013,  found Simply Dickens,  who are mostly period correct here,  replicating scenes from old London.
2013 - Simply Dickens:
Drury Lane was rich with  “dramatic characters”  and costume 
shops selling boots  “heretofore worn by a  ‘fourth robber’  or 
‘fifth mob.’ ”  Ragged boys ran through the streets near Waterloo 
Bridge,  which were filled with  “dirt and discomfort,”  tired 
kidney-pie vendors and flaring gaslights.
~Or it’s just the men of Simply Dickens!~

2013 - Simply Dickens:
The beggar girl gets a snub from the wealthy undertaker's wife.

This year Waterloo Farm changed up their scenario to where they no longer wanted an 1860s family,  so we went a-looking for another location to add to the already busy December schedule.  And wouldn't you know it?  For our first time we were able to bring our time-travel magic to the 1880s Crocker House Museum.
Sadly,  it was also our last time,  but both parties gave it a good shot.  It simply was just not a good fit.
2013 - Crocker House Museum:
Standing on the porch of this beautifully restored historic 
home in Mt.  Clemens,  Michigan.

2013 - Crocker House Museum:
A picture-perfect scene of a Victorian Christmas.

Another 21st Michigan party!
2013 - 21st Michigan Christmas Party:
And we danced jigs & reels,  just as in the 1860s!

Of course,  Christmas at the Fort reigns as the top Christmas-past celebration.
2013 - Christmas at the Fort:
The core has remained the same,  though we do have additions 
and subtractions every year.
But something special happened this year that no one has been able to do in over 30 years:  we were able to eat in the dining room...and by oil lamp at that!  It was brought up how we could expand our impression to make it more real than in previous years,  and when the idea came up of eating a Christmas meal in the dining room,  I didn't expect the coalition to agree to it.
But we have proven to them over the years that we are historical professionals in all we do,  and because of that we got the thumbs up.
2013 - Christmas at the Fort:
I must say, eating in the dining room in this manner was,  
perhaps,  one of the most magical experiences I've ever had in my 
reenacting journey.  Imagine the opportunity of eating a 
Christmas meal with only oil lamps for light inside of an actual 
dining room of the time!

2013 - Christmas at the Fort:
Also,  a second servant was added this year,  Candace.

She,  too,  became a part of the core.
The  "core,"  as I mention,  are those few members who consistently return year after year,  such as myself,  Larissa,  Violet,  Sandy,  Carrie,  Kristen,  and now Candace.  Others may come and go - give it a try once or twice -  and sometimes the core members may have to miss a year or two,  but the core is what makes this all work as well as it does.

And now we move to Christmas 2014 - - -
2014 - 21st Michigan Christmas Party:
A very good showing from the members of the 
21st Michigan Civil War umit I belong to.

2014 - 21st Michigan Christmas Party:
Our ladies are so dainty.
These ladies must have gone to finishing school to be able 

to learn such a trick as balancing tea cups on their heads.

And here we go for our annual Christmas at the Fort.
2014 - Christmas at the Fort:
This year was a little different for me,  for Larissa,  my reenacting 
wife,  was off having a baby,  she and husband Mike's second child.
So Kim volunteered to be my wife for this year.

2014 - Christmas at the Fort:
And Laura joined us as a cousin/niece as well.
I must say that when your  "core"  is broken,  such as Larissa not being there,  it can confuse the mind a bit,  for when one is used to working a certain way,  such as the way Larissa and I work together,  it can really kind of have a flip-flop of the mind.  Not that Kim wasn't good,  but we just didn't  "click"  in the way I was used to.
I do so very much appreciate her filling in for this year,  however.

We tried Waterloo Farm one more time,  and though they were so kind,  it just wasn't the same,  for the sitting room was given over to spinners and their spinning wheels,  so my friend Jackie and I spent time in the formal parlor,  speaking with visitors.  There was more than one time that we had quite a crowd listening to our stories of Christmas past.
2014 - Waterloo Farm:
Jackie and I in the parlor.
She would soon become part of our core group as well.
This was the last time we presented at the farm.  It was kind of 

sad for us,  for we very much enjoyed becoming a farm family 
and showing people the way the farm may have looked in the 1860s.
It's all good,  though.  If they ever want us back,  I believe we 
would return and bring it to life once again.

Now we head into 2015 and Simply Dickens,  my wonderful period vocal group,  is performing in a 19th century barn!
And on this cold December night,  there was no heat,  making it that much more authentic.
2015 - Simply Dickens in Fostoria,  Michigan:
Yes,  there was electricity,  but no heat.
Jingle Bells kept the kids warm,  however!

This was a wonderful place to perform.

2015 - Simply Dickens at Mill Race Village:
On a day that the snow raged all around the metro-
Detroit area,  we were performing Christmas music.
It was great!

That's Diana and Beckie braving the snow with me.

2015 - Simply Dickens at Greenfield Village:
In between sets we would take the opportunity
to walk around a bit and enjoy Holiday Nights.
Beckie,  here,  is not only an accomplished vocalist,  
but a top-notch reenactor and is also part of the 
21st Michigan unit.

2015 - Simply Dickens at Plymouth Historical Museum:
My group had more gigs in 2015 than any year before or after,  
and at this particular show,  the Union Santa from the 1864 
Harper's Weekly joined us.  Of course,  we had to tell him what 
we wanted for Christmas...
Dear 1860s Santa,
I'd like
"a new saddle for my horse"
"a new oil lamp"
"a copy of 'A Christmas Carol' "
"a new top hat"
"a new bonnett"
(This wonderful picture was taken a few years back by Karen DeCoster Campbell)

2015 was the first time I celebrated a colonial-era Christmas.  I'd been reenacting that period for a couple years by 2015,  but I've not yet ventured out at Christmastime...until that wonderful December at Greenfield Village's Holiday Nights:
2015 - Holiday Nights:
This is one of my favorite photos taken of me.

2015 - Holiday Nights:
Preparing to enter the tavern for some wassail
and a hot fire at the hearth.

And another 21st Michigan Christmas party - - -
2015 - 21st Michigan Civil War Party:
This year we played a few parlor games,  including 

questions and answers  (among others).

It's Christmas at the Fort 2015 and guess what?  Larissa is back!
And so is her mother!
It really is just not the same without them  (no,  I am not being weird here - we just work well together in this capacity).
2015 - Christmas at the Fort:
I love the fact that we fell right back into our roles as we did a 
couple years ago.
This year,  as you can see,  our group was a bit smaller than in 

past years,  and that was fine,  for it was a of a bit quieter celebration.

2015 - Christmas at the Fort:
It was every bit as festive as it's been,  and carols were sung,  
decorating was done,  and again we ate our Christmas meal in the 
dining room by oil lamp light.

As I continued researching the 18th century Christmas celebrations,  the more I wanted to wear the clothing of that era in December as well.  So I continued my colonial Christmas celebrations into the year 2016.
2016 - Christmas at Greenfield Village:
I had my picture taken in front of the home of one of the 
unsung founding fathers,  Noah Webster.

Greenfield Village is not open during the daytime for the month of December,  so if any are interested in seeing the Village Christmas decorations in daylight,  they need to visit Thanksgiving Weekend.
Black Friday is ideal - forget the unnecessary shopping and enjoy the spirit of Christmas past!
However,  during that darkest month of the year is when Greenfield Village puts on what is perhaps its most anticipated event of the year:  Holiday Nights.
2016 - Holiday Nights:
One of my favorite homes to visit during Holiday Nights is the 
home of John Giddings,  built in 1750 and presented as 1760.

2016 - Holiday Nights:
Yeah...another tavern picture.
I like this one better than last year's.

2016 - Holiday Nights:
My wife - my real wife - worked Holiday Nights in the Smiths 
Creek Depot for a number of years representing the 1860s 
Michigan Soldiers Aid Society and enjoyed it immensely.
Here we are,  two very separate time-periods,  yet still together.  
Talk about a May-December marriage! Ha!

Back to Christmas at the Fort.
I hope you are not tired yet of this particular event,  for it is our favorite one of the season - - the most real.
2016 - Christmas at the Fort:
Yearly tintypes taken.
It's at this point in our reenacting adventure of celebrating Christmas past when we realized that we were no longer necessarily reenacting,  but were actually celebrating Christmas,  in a way not very far off at all from our actual 1860s counterparts.
We now have memories of Christmas past...our  past in this house in the 1860s.
How cool is that?
2016 - Christmas at the Fort:
Our food is always suitable for not only the time period,  
but for a Christmas meal itself!

My,  the years fly by!
Now we are in Christmas 2017.
2017 - Simply Dickens at Holiday Nights:
This was the last year Simply Dickens performed at Greenfield 

Village.  The Village chose to have their own people perform 
rather than hire out.  But that actually was okay for us,  for we 
were hired the next year back at the Holly Dickens Festival.  In 
the meantime,  we certainly enjoyed our time here!

2017 - Simply Dickens at Holiday Nights:
Here,  again,  you see Beckie and I,  enjoying a break 
in between Simply Dickens sets,   in the midst of the
festive surroundings of Greenfield Village.

And then,  on a different night,  I visited on my own as colonial Ken enjoying Holiday Nights...
2017 - Holiday Nights:
On my way to visit the Daggett House I stopped by the McGuffey 
Cabin for a bit of warmth before venturing out again.
It was a bitter cold night and the warmth was just what I needed!

2017 - Holiday Nights:
A few of my friends from the colonies joined me on my 
Christmas excursion to Greenfield Village this year.

2017 - Holiday Nights:
Yes,  at the moment this image was captured,  I knew exactly how 
the founding generation felt,  for it was only 6 degrees outdoors,  
and that fire in the hearth felt as good to me  (and my ears,  legs,  
and toes)  as I'm sure one from the 1770s must have felt to others 
in the same situation.
As you can see,  I was surrounded by darkness,  except for the 
fireplace and lantern setting upon the table.  And,  if this truly 
were 1770,  you can bet every opening or crevice that allowed the 
cold to seep in would have been stuffed,  blocked,  or covered 
with rags.  Plus those who lived here would 
have worn extra garments,  including mittens,  
while inside,  as necessary.
Kudos to my woolen cloak!

Back to Christmas at the Fort again,  and,  as always,  we had a joyous gathering!
2017 - Christmas at the Fort:
We included the two servants in our family picture.
They are standing at the pillars on the porch.

2017 - Christmas at the Fort:
Jillian became Kristen's younger sister for the first time the 
previous summer at the Charlton Park Civil War reenactment 
where we have a  'summer version'  of our reenacting family,  so 
it was only natural for her to join us for Christmas.

2017 - Christmas at the Fort:
Agnes and Candace had their own servant celebration
in the kitchen in between serving us.
Yes,  they are our actual servants during this event.
But they both do it voluntarily.  I had heard that there were a few members from another reenacting unit exclaim that it was a shame for  "Ken to force these women into a servitude role here."
I  "forced"  then into this role??
Oi - - what some won't do to create gossip!
Go mind your own group's business and keep your nose out of ours'!

Now we welcome 2018,  where Colonial Ken is back at Holiday Nights - - - -
2018 - Holiday Nights:
"Mr.  Giddings has invited me to his party.  May I enter?" 

2018 - Holiday Nights:
Inside the Giddings House,  enjoying a visit with Mistress Giddings.

In 2018,  I,  for the first time,  held a Colonial/18th century Christmas party.
The myth continues on that Christmas bypassed the 1700s and wasn't given much of a thought until Charles Dickens wrote his wonderful  "A Christmas Carol."
Well,  that simply just was not true;  many,  if not most  (except the puritans and their ilk)  of our colonial ancestors did,  at the very least,  acknowledge December the 25th,  and at best,  had parties in celebration,  as did George Washington.
2018 - Citizens of the American Colonies Party:
In 2018 I threw my first colonial Christmas party,  and it was a 
grand success!  O! What fun we all had!  And members of the 
1st Pennsylvania joined us as well.

2018 - Citizens of the American Colonies Party:
Fine conversation ensued.  Not 1st person,  mind you,  but talk of 
Rev War and colonial history,  of previous and upcoming reenactments,  
and of ways of improving our impressions.

Yes,  the 21st Michigan Civil War Christmas party also continues on,  for it is a great excuse to get back into our period clothing and be with friends.
2018 - 21st Michigan Christmas Party:
My wife and I are pretty much the hosts of this shindig,  
which is held in the 1872 school house near our home.

2018 - 21st Michigan Christmas Party:
And dancing & feasting are always the best part!
It was wonderful to have the Lynches join us.

Then there is Christmas at the Fort;  it never gets boring nor do we feel any great need to change it up too much.
Why would we?
We are replicating everything as close as we possibly can,  for our research is always continuous.
2018 - Christmas at the Fort:
What did change this year for us is we had a real table-top 
Christmas tree to decorate rather than the feather tree,  which 
actually did not become popular until a few years into the future.
See what continuous research will do?

2018 - Christmas at the Fort:
And the fun we have in decorating was every bit as much fun as 
any family from the era,  of that I am quite certain.

2018 - Christmas at the Fort:
Preparing to dine on our Christmas Eve dinner.

2018 - Christmas at the Fort:
Two new members joined us for this year's celebration,  
creating opportunities for other scenarios and topics.
Plus,  our servant,  Agnes,  was out this year,  having her first child.  
She'll be back next year for she will need the money!

So this leads us into 2019:
Now,  since this is being posted before the Civil War Christmas party,  the colonial Christmas party,  and my annual visit to Holiday Nights,  pictures from those events will be highlighted in upcoming postings over the next month or so.
However,  I do have a few photographs of Simply Dickens in Holly and our---wait for it---Christmas at the Fort events:
2019 - Greenfield Village:
My last daytime visit to Greenfield Village before it
closed for the year found me leaning on a lamppost
near the Eagle Tavern,  which was already dec'd
out for Christmas,  so I suppose it counts,  right?

Simply Dickens spent most of our performing time in the beautiful Village of Holly,  where the nation's oldest Dickens Festival takes place.
Holly,  Michigan is a town filled with wonderful antique shops - much of what I own came from one of the myriad of shops here - and for two weekends I have greatly admired an all-too-cool old Christmas poster,  which was a bit out of my price range.
But on our last day performing,  I was surprised - very surprised  (which nearly moved me to tears) - to receive this poster I'd been admiring,  as a gift from a very special young couple in my group.
Thank you so much Lainey & Isaac - - thank you so very much!
I am so touched...
2019 - Simply Dickens:
This is the coolest Christmas poster I've seen.  It
looks to be from the turn of the 20th century.

2019 - Simply Dickens:
And here it is hanging on my wall in a 
prominent spot in my home.
I love it!

2019 - Simply Dickens:
Fun in Holly!

2019 - Simply Dickens:
Members of the finest period vocal group to ever sing
old world Christmas carols.

For Christmas at the Fort 2019,  there was a problem with the heat in the holding building where the touring guests begin,  and,  therefore,  it could not be used.
The event was cancelled...sigh...
I had to let my fellow living historians know,  and here are some of the responses I got:
Larissa wrote:  "What??????  So sad.  It’s the highlight of my holidays."
Carrie wrote:  "Yeah not to get too depressing here,  but Christmas at the fort officially kicks off the holiday season for me."
Well,  yeah...me,  too.
So I went to work in seeing if we could still celebrate Christmas the way we have for the past decade,  even without the visiting public.
The answer was a resounding  "Yes!"
And then it was decided we would continue staying in immersion for this,  our own private event,  though we also agreed to allow for some modernisms,  as long as they were not too intrusive.  But just as in all those years before,  there is no acting here.  Again,  what you see is us living out a different time period as if it were truly happening.  No scripts.  No TV/movie-myth-type of over-acting  ("oh,  fiddle dee dee!").  No reminders that we were reenactors  ("They would have done this,  right?").  Nothing planned other than what many families of the time did during that period such as  'dressing'  the Christmas tree and preparing for Christmas itself.
In our world it was Christmas Eve 1864.
2019 - Christmas at the Fort:
Carrie brought her little girl,  Nadia,  who became,  for the event,  
Kristen's daughter.
Me and Larissa were grandparents!
I had no problem with it since I am a grandfather in my modern 

life,  but Larissa,  who has two children of her own under the age 
of ten years in her modern home,  replied,  "I couldn’t even bring 
myself to say that!"
How funny!

2019 - Christmas at the Fort:
So we dressed the real tree once again.  The ornaments may not be 
100% period-correct,  but they certainly work well.  Maybe one day in the future past we will have more authentic decorations to hang upon it.

2019 - Christmas at the Fort:
Again,  a few slight changes to our 1860s family,
but the core is there,  and that's what matters to me.

2019 - Christmas at the Fort:
Such a magical time-travel experience.
To think this sort of Christmas - so realistic in most every way - is 

now a wonderful part of my - all of our - Christmas memories.

Yes,  by celebrating Christmas in this manner for all these years,  I've been actually  experiencing first-hand the kind of an old-fashioned Christmas I used to dream about - a Christmas in the mid-19th century as well as in the 18th century.  But it is the people I partake in it with that make it come to life.  Understand,  please,  that the living historians who I am with in this excursion to the past just don't sit in the parlor and reenact.  That would be too simple.  We,  instead,  become a real family,  with a husband,  wife,  daughter,  sisters/sister-in-law/aunt,  mother/mother-in-law/grandmother,  and house servants,  and we play out our roles quite well,  especially since we've been working in this capacity for a decade.  For the most part,  our little family remains in a 1st person/immersion state and do our best to speak only of subjects in which we,  as folks from the early 1860s, would have been aware,  whether of the War that we had hoped would end soon,  or of our homelife,  including the raising of our daughter(s).
We keep it real.
Are we perfect?
No,  not by any means.
But,  we do our very best to continue improving ourselves on this time-travel journey and attempt to become more  'natural'  and real each time.
What gives us satisfaction is when we're told that we do a very realistic job in re-creating a Victorian household.
Yeah...that makes us smile.  Ha!  After all,  in our minds it is  1861 or 1862 or.......
I am very honored and humbled to have found such quality living historians - people I consider to also be my close friends - who are so willing to immerse themselves in the past and bring it to life in such a manner as we do,  and I thank God for bringing us all together for this amazing adventure through time.

Until next time,  see you in time.
And Merry Christmas!

For more information on a more Victorian Christmas,  click HERE

For more information on Christmas in the Colonies,  click HERE

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