|Where are you Christmas?|
Where are you Christmas...?
I've noticed far more Christmas lights and lawn decorations in front yards this year than I have ever seen before. And even with this pandemic going on, folks are still purchasing gifts, whether on-line or in person, keeping our economy rolling. I know my wife and I are still celebrating, mostly in the ways we always have, especially with our children and their families, who all live nearby. Oh, we are still following the rules, including masks and social distancing and all that wherever it is required - we don't have much of a choice - but we are not going to sit and do nothing. It's not in our nature.
So I put together a little something to show a few of our December activities that is not all reenacting (though you will see a bit of that here as well). It's more about celebrating the most wonderful time of the year in the best ways we can.
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In this Age of Aquari---um---covid-19, celebrating the holidays can be a bit of a tricky chore. Here in Michigan, for one example, high schools have been shut down for students for the month of December and into mid-January, so all of our teaching is done on line. This means no Christmas parties, and very little decorating.
Except in my classroom.
I had an old fake tree in my basement that I never used. I've had it for years but it was not what I thought it to be when I purchased it at a thrift store years ago. So it sat, cold and lonely in my basement, awaiting for its day to shine. Well, as I was searching in my "archives" for my copy-of-a-copy of the Detroit News from December 8, 1941 with Pearl Harbor headlines to use as a teaching tool, I noticed this pencil tree off in the corner. And like Charlie Brown and the tree that needed him, I brought my sad little tree to school where I decorated it with a few ornaments. The teacher I work with loved it, and so colored lights were added to it, and it didn't look too bad. But there was no tree topper, so I asked one of the students if she might be willing to make one, even though she is learning from home.
She did, and...voila!
Look at our tree!
Compassionate Friends is an organization that helps people who have lost a child, such as friends of ours' down the street from us. Their daughter passed away suddenly from a rare form of cancer in the summer of 2014.
The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting on the 2nd Sunday in December unites family and friends around the globe in lighting candles for one hour to honor the memories of the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and grandchildren who left too soon. As candles were lit on this past December 13th, 2020 at 7:00 pm local time, hundreds of thousands of people commemorated and honored the memory of all children gone too soon.
Now believed to be the largest mass candle lighting on the globe, the annual Worldwide Candle Lighting (WCL), a gift to the bereavement community from The Compassionate Friends, creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone.
Being that this is held in December at Christmas time - the time of year when missing a loved one can be toughest of all - I thought it right to post it here.
Nearly every year I light the candles that I place on the branches of my Christmas Tree, and have been doing so since Christmas 1984. Growing up I've always wanted to experience a real candle-lit tree.
I've been asked how comfortable am I lighting candles on our Christmas Tree.
Well, in the 36 years I've been doing it, I take every precaution: I make sure of the placement of each candle - no branches above or to close - I have water nearby (always!), watchful eyes besides my own are always on the look out, and, of course, just like in those old days, the candles are lit for not longer than about ten minutes. Contrary to what Hollywood shows, people did not leave their trees lit up for more than a few minutes, and they did not leave the room while the flames were flickering. Our ancestors were much smarter than that.
So, yes, I am very comfortable when I do this
|My grandchildren were in awe. |
This year was the first time I've lit the tree candles when they were over to see it.
I've read interviews from the old-timers who have said that the electric lights cannot match the beauty of a real candle-lit tree. And I tend to agree with them. One must remember that in those olden times, before anybody reading this was born, the freshly cut Christmas Tree went up sometime on Christmas Eve or even Christmas morning. Oftentimes the parents would put it up and decorate it after the children were in bed fast asleep on Christmas Eve, only to wake up the next morn to find Santa Claus had come and did it all overnight. Then the candles would be lit, perhaps a carol or two sung, then out went the flames. In other words, whereas we have our trees up from Thanksgiving or early December through at least New Years Day (and weeks after, in my case), Christmas Trees in those days were up no more than a day or two, and all of that candle-lit beauty had to be taken in in such a short span of time.
The following picture was taken by my daughter-in-law the same night as the other two posted here. As a friend of mine wrote upon seeing it: "Every now and then there’s a photo that encapsulates everything you hoped it would. This is that photo."
This is, perhaps, my favorite picture of all,
for to me it really does epitomize Christmas:
my grandkids...all is calm, all is bright.
Peace on earth, good will to men...and women...and children...
Even in the covid-19 year of 2020, my period vocal group Simply Dickens still performed a few shows, including to a masked & limited audience at the Plymouth Historical Museum:
|Are we real or are we Memorex?|
Having fun with the statues near the back of the hall.
And watch & listen to our December 23, 2020 live stream here (you will have to copy & paste into your task bar the link below):
|My wife began a new tradition this year:|
making Christmas cookies with our grandkids.
|Our grandkids love to wear our hats - our colonial hats!|
For quite some time I've been wanting something made from an 18th century loom, whether the loom is authentic or a replication of an original. My 5th great grandfather was a weaver in the 1760s, and with me reenacting his era I figured I can not only honor my ancestor, but have something to help accent my living history experiences and presentations as well.
|In the first picture here you can see me standing next to a loom that was inside |
the 1750 Daggett House last year.
In the next two photos you can see my newly purchased treasure that I tried to incorporate into a sort of colonial vignette.
So, with the help of a number of people - going way back to November 2019 - and having a LOT of patience, I finally received a towel - two, in fact - that were "made with a historical timber-frame loom similar to those used in Colonial America."
Only they won't be used as towels - they are large enough to be runners to help accent my colonial vignette in my home.
|One of the runners as it sits upon my fireplace mantle.|
|Can't see the runner too well here, but I happen to like this photo...|
and you can kind of see it.
Due to the covid crap, restaurants here in Michigan are not open for dining inside. Going out to eat once a week on a "date" is something my wife Patty and I enjoy immensely, especially in the fall and at Christmas time.
But, alas, for the most part, it's not to be this year.
So we did something a bit different.
Okay---so maybe it's not so different for me.
It all began when I had an idea for a sort of photo-shoot. There's not been much opportunity to dress period with my wife, so I came up with an idea to put on period clothing and then called my son, Rob, over to take a few pictures. I had pulled out a period table that worked well for our farm family impression, put the settings on it, including plates, bowls, drinking mugs, and eating utensils, and actually filled our plates with food.
Our lantern-lit dining was ready.
The intention was not to eat, for this was just a photo-shoot, but as Robbie took the pictures, with his camera and mine, Patty and I began to nibble the food on our plates.
|So my wife and I enjoyed a splendid repast of ham and vegetables, including carrots, tomatoes, and cucumbers.|
So---well---she will do this for me here and there...
So...where are you Christmas?
Christmas is where you want it to be.
Christmas is a holiday that will forever be associated with home and family and tradition.
Not everyone celebrates, I understand. But I do, for myself and my kids. And my wife, who did not have the wonderful Christmas experiences as a youth that I did, has now taken to it every-bit-as-much as I do.
And it's been passed on to our kids...and now our grandkids.
I am blessed.
|"Oh my gosh, how I love this photo! Brings back to my winter days in Daggett. |
You captured the essence of Daggett perfectly!"
Except for the Santa Claus.
Someone made a comment about celebrating Christmas vicariously through us and our photos. My response was rather than live vicariously through our experiences, create them yourself. It's always my hope that what I do and through my photos people will be inspired to "walk the walk," if you know what I mean.
To learn how Christmas was celebrated in Colonial times, click HERE
Ten years of Christmas reenacting - click HERE
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