Thursday, November 30, 2023

Thanksgiving Weekend Traditions 2023: Present Meets Past Meets Present

Home for the Holidays.
Happy Holidays.
Seasons Greetings.
Andy Williams sang  "It's the holiday season..."
What is the Holiday Season?
Some think of it as Christmas,  or maybe Christmas and New Years.
I open the door of perception
to the past
and the 
present.
I think of it as Thanksgiving,  Christmas Eve,  Christmas Day,  New Years,  and even January 6  (Epiphany / Three Kings Day / Orthodox Christmas),  for all do tie in together,  even though each are separate holidays.  Christmas and New Years have been tied into a single greeting going back to  (as far as I have read)  the early 18th century.  And when the first Christmas Card was printed in 1843,  it said  "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year To You."  And with Thanksgiving,  that harvest holiday,  used as a sort of gateway to the Christmas Season,  with Santa coming to town in parades all over the US on that 4th Thursday in November,  I suppose it can be considered as part of  "the holidays."
I have celebrated Thanksgiving in two time periods this year - - in 1773 and  in the present;  my 1773 experience you can read about HERE.  This is my living history home with my living history family.
Then there is my actual real-life home with my actual real life family,  all set in the modern day,  though with a period flair.  
Then there is the adventure of cutting down our Christmas Tree,  which is something we all look forward to.
Visiting historic Greenfield Village has been a Thanksgiving Weekend tradition for me since 2009,  and every time I am wearing my period clothing...oftentimes with like-minded friends.  I have included a few photos here,  but I am planning an entire post on it for next week. 
Passion for the Past for this week is a mixing bowl of past and present with a historically traditional flair to it.

--- ~   ~   ~ ----

In my mind,  atmosphere is nearly as important as the food.  My wife and I try to fill our house with a sort of sensurround by way of sight  (candle lit room),  smell,  touch,  and taste  (oh! the food we have!  The scent and taste of  turkey,  stuffing with raisins & nuts,  rutabaga,  green beans  (fresh from our garden!),  corn,  mashed potatoes,  squash,  sweet potatoes,  pumpkin pie,  apple pie,  cranberry sauce,  cannoli...plus wassail to drink!),  and sound  (the family voices,  from young to old,  all joyously partaking in this wonderful American holiday).
It is an old holiday,  this harvest known as Thanksgiving,  and is celebrated in as many differing ways as there are people in our great country.
My table is all set for our Thanksgiving meal.
Yes,  canned cranberries - we also have jellied as well.

One of my/our traditions is eating our Thanksgiving dinner by candle light -
all hand dipped either by me or my living history friends...and some by family!

Our  "harvest"  table we got last year is perfect.

The pumpkins are not just for decoration - my wife,  Patty,  actually
uses them to make pies and squash.
Though they do add a bit of a harvest flavor to the look...
Patty truly goes all out for our meal,  as I do in the atmosphere.  I like to keep our gatherings as such that they will always be remembered long after my wife and I are gone:
"I remember as a kid going to my Nonna and Papa's house for Thanksgiving - they always made it extra special!"
I suppose that would sort of be a legacy for Patty & I to leave...and I wouldn't do it any other way,  for this is our thing,  our way.  Let everyone else be normal.

As I mentioned,  the very next day - Black Friday - a few friends and I ventured off to historic Greenfield Village.  Here are a few photos from that excursion,  in keeping with the historical situation:
Being that we are representing the 1770s,  walking through the 1832 Ackley Covered Bridge just is not historically accurate.  It is to my understanding that erecting covered bridges in America didn't occur until early in the 19th century.  The first known covered bridge constructed in the United States was the Permanent Bridge, 
completed in 1805 to span the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.
I didn't know this until recently.
Don't you just love research?
Photographer Kathy Brock took this wonderful picture.
However,  here is something that may  "override"  the research:
considering all of us in the above picture are aged 60 or above,  we older folks who lived during and remembered the era of the American Revolution could very possibly still be wearing our older-style fashions even as late as into the 19th century. 
An interesting fact not well-known about Paul Revere,  for example,  is that,  "As the  (19th)  century advance(d),  small boys begin to appear---all eyes,  all ears,  they watch  'old Mr. Revere'  in church,  on the street,  at his foundry.  Some sixty or seventy years later,  when asked,  they remember him well.  Rowland Ellis remembers  (Paul Revere)  as a  'thick-set,  round faced not very tall person who always wore small clothes.'  The Ellis family pew in the  'New Brick Church'  was directly behind that of Revere,  and there Mr.  Ellis says,  "I used to see him as regularly as the Sabbath came."
The oddity of  'small clothes'  alone would be remembered by a small boy.  The old elegance of knee-breeches,  ruffled shirts,  long stockings,  and cocked hats had passed out of fashion years before.  Others besides Paul Revere  (also)  clung to their picturesque costume of their youth.  There were a number of these  'last leaves'  about Boston.  It may have been a sin for small boys  'to sit and grin...but the old three-cornered hat,  and the breeches and all that,  are so queer.' "
So,  I suppose seeing us  "last leaves"  crossing the covered bridge may not seem so out of order after all!
Norm & Charlotte~
A few trees still holding onto their leaves,  even in late November.

Always have to hit the Daggett House.
I am proud of my pretty well-known association with this house.

I have no story to go with this photo other than I gave my camera to Kathy Brock
and asked her to snap away.  I very much appreciate the shots she was able to get - she certainly took some good ones!
Perhaps I am Samuel Daggett incarnate greeting a visitor?  lol
Again...the door of perception...past meets the present...or does it?

One of my own  "artsy"  set ups - 
Lynn,  Jackie,  Charlotte,  Norm.
The weekend directly following Thanksgiving is the last weekend that Greenfield Village is open during daytime hours until springtime  (mid-April).  For December,  the ticketed Christmas event,  Holiday Nights,  is all that's left.  Come January,  February,  and March it is closed.  So we try to take advantage of it being open on that last weekend in November.
Until springtime...
As mentioned,  stay tuned to Passion for the Past,  for next week I plan another post,  which will be dedicated to our Black Friday Greenfield Village visit.  A whole lotta photos to see noting our adventure.

But Christmas is coming...the goose is getting fat - - - heading up north is where it's at~
Another tradition we have in my family is our annual Christmas Tree Cutting Day.
Just three days following Thanksgiving,  we traveled north to Applegate  (in Michigan's  "Thumb")  to find and cut down our Christmas Tree.  Per our norm we went to Western's Tree Farm.  We've been going to this same place for close to 40 years now.  We like---no,  love---it,  so why change,  right?  With tractor rides and horse rides taking us out to the acres and acres of trees,  a log cabin filled with country Christmas d├ęcor,  and the friendship we've built with the owners,  it's been the perfect place for us.
The Western Tree Farm cabin.
This was not here when we first started coming here all those years ago.  There was only a small white shack where you paid for your tree.  I remember the owner at that time telling me about the plans to build the cabin from the logs of the trees growing on their property.
And here it is!

A nice warm fire going in the fireplace inside the cabin.

And they have the inside decorated very festive.
They sell all kinds of Christmas decorations - very  "country."

Here is most of my family - my daughter was not able to come this year.
She was home with a sick pup.
We grabbed the tractor ride this year.  My grandsons loved it!

Off to find the perfect tree.

The horse and cart was ready to take others out to the Christmas Tree forest.

Through the cabin window...

My wife and I had our picture taken together in front of the
festive Western Tree Farm cabin tree..
It's not very often we do so in modern clothing.
I think we look like midwesterners,  don't you?
You betcha!  We live in Michigan!

Here is our tree all decorated!
As you can probably see,  we have such a variety of different ornaments.
And we have quite a lot we've collected over the years - our trees
are getting smaller each year so we cannot put them all on.

A few of our Greenfield Village ornaments:
Independence Hall  (the front of The Henry Ford Museum),
the Martha-Mary Chapel,  a redware sheep made in the pottery 
building,  and a bulb depicting the Sir John Bennett Sweet Shop.

We have a squirrel ornament!

Gotta have  "A Christmas Carol"  representation~
We include a variety of ornaments to make our tree that much more interesting to look at  (and not give it the mall tree  look).
Still...I love the uniqueness of it.
All lit up like a Christmas Tree!
"Being now at home again,  and alone,  the only person in the house awake,  my thoughts are drawn back,  by a fascination which I do not care to resist,  to my own childhood.  I begin to consider,  what do we all remember best upon the branches of the Christmas Tree of our own young Christmas days,  by which we climbed to real life.
Straight,  in the middle of the room,  cramped in the freedom of its growth by no encircling walls or soon-reached ceiling,  a shadowy tree arises;  and,  looking up into the dreamy brightness of its top-- for I observe in this tree the singular property that it appears to grow downward towards the earth--I look into my youngest Christmas recollections!"
Charles Dickens - 'A Christmas Tree'

I pray your Thanksgiving was special,  and may this Christmas Season be merry & bright for all of my readers.
God Bless.

Until next time,  see you in time.



























































~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Thanksgiving-Harvest Celebrations: ~Experiencing Our Research at the Colonial Cabin~

Did you make it to your local grocer to purchase your Thanksgiving dinner:  frozen turkey,  packaged vegetables,  pre-made pumpkin pie mix,  and bottles of  Coke or Dr.  Pepper?
Wait---hold on a sec!
Here...let's climb into the way-back machine - - - - - - - - - 

-----.....___

~Experiencing Our Research~

I've always dreamed of celebrating certain holidays in an old-fashioned manner,  as they were once celebrated in days of old.  For instance,  as a young 'un,  I wanted a Victorian Christmas something fierce!  Especially after watching one of the many versions of  Charles Dickens'   "A Christmas Carol"  movies.
And luckily for me,  I've been able to experience the Christmas of my dreams  (click HERE).
But Christmas was not the only celebration of the past I wanted to encounter:
Happy Thanksgiving 1773!
Seasons - winter,  spring,  summer,  and fall - were also another cause for old-time chores and celebrations.  My books always seem to show old-time farming life - that's what I  wanted to experience.  And it was the season of autumn that I always tended to enjoy most of all,  for everyone celebrated this  "wooden"  time of year,  whether by going to the cider mill or apple picking or the pumpkin farm or even to a roadside vegetable stand.  Little do most who take part in these activities realize they are actually participating in centuries-old traditions.  And as I learned even more about harvest time and the way it was celebrated in days of old,  I could feel my love and interest in that subject growing.  Then to think that celebrating Thanksgiving itself was actually celebrating the harvest!  I never thought of it in that way when I was young!  Thanksgiving was always just...Thanksgiving!  The gateway to Christmas!  But through diligent research,  this holiday means so much more to me as an adult then it ever did as a youth or young man.  This is what reenacting and my love of  research has done to me.  Oh,  I was always into history,  but reenacting actually allowed me to experience history in ways I never had before.
Engulfed.
Immersed.
So,  as my  mind works,  I thought,  "wouldn't it be cool to actually celebrate Thanksgiving/Harvest time as they would have in early America?"
Due to the cabin excursions a few of us participate in throughout the seasons,  I have been blessed with that opportunity.
Of course,  first things first  ~ ~ ~
Thanksgiving in the last half of the 18th century was a time when a harvest meal meant just that:  what you planted,  grew,  cared for,  and then harvested.  Your Thanksgiving meal was a true Thanksgiving meal - you were truly thankful to God for the blessings He gave you for your arduous labor throughout spring and summer and fall.
Early 1700s Thanksgiving observances,  which could occur throughout the year,  was not a day marked by plentiful food and drink as is today's custom,  but rather a day set aside for prayer and fasting;  a true  “thanksgiving”  was a day of prayer and pious humiliation,  thanking God for His special Providence. 
But,  as the 18th century progressed,  it gradually turned more into a festive celebration as much as it was a holy day  (or holiday). 
It's this later period we strived to emulate.
So let's tell a little tale of  our time-travel Thanksgiving celebrations.
First off,  Thanksgiving meals were not necessarily like our current traditional holiday meals are like.  Now,  that doesn't mean our ancestors did not eat turkey,  stuffing,  rutabaga,  vegetables,  pumpkin pies,  and the like.  They most certainly did!
Well...some did - but not all.  It all depended on what was in your garden and what meat was available for you to hunt.  Some folks had deer/venison,  while others may have had fish or ham.  Chicken and duck was a popular meal as well.
However,  I do like turkey. 
Wild turkeys,  in particular,  were much smaller than the turkeys available in our supermarkets.  Male turkeys were about 16 pounds,  and female about 9 pounds.
Men went a-fowling or hunting for deer to add to the vegetables.
The practice of hunting in England at the time the American colonies were settled was legally restricted to the gentry.  Virtually all of the land was owned in large parcels by the wealthy,  who preserved them from generation to generation by bequeathing their entire estates intact to the oldest son through the law of primogeniture.  To protect these fields and woodlands from poachers,  gamekeepers were employed who patrolled the properties and provided selective hunting for the owners.  By law,  no one was allowed to own a gun unless he possessed substantial freehold property or was given special permission.  Thus,  legal shooting was not even a choice for the average citizen.  By the 1740s this restrictive practice led to hunting being considered a symbol of wealth.
In North America,  however,  land was readily available,  and possession of guns was universal as hunting with firearms was a primary means of survival.  Rural homes depended on arms to help feed their large families,  as well as to provide physical protection and fulfill local militia demands.  The heavily wooded terrain of the New World,  in turn,  provided a bounty of game ranging from turkeys,  geese,  ducks,  and game birds to the larger deer,  bear,  elk,  and moose.  In order to take advantage of this,  the provincials employed various combinations of ball,  buckshot,  or buck & ball in smoothbore flintlock fowlers which were the forerunners of today’s shotguns. 
We will have quite the harvest feast!
And the fruits & vegetables would include apples,  pumpkins and other types of squash,  green beans,  root vegetables such as beets and carrots and potatoes...then there was the slaughtering of hogs:  “When  (November's)  cold hardened the earth and turned breath to frost,  it was time for the last food processing chore of the year—slaughtering the hogs.  Families rarely ate fresh pork,  but on slaughtering day,  they ate enough to last the rest of the year—they would eat the quickly perishable organs on the first day and the tails,  ears,  and feet,  the second.  And on the third and following days,  the backbones,  ribs,  and chitterlings.  Shoulders,  hams,  sides,  jowl sand sausage links went to the smokehouse.  Trimmings were made into souse  (pickled)  meat  and were sealed in stoneware jars where it kept for several weeks.  With the rendering of the hog fat,  the last of the harvest was in.  The storerooms were full,  and winter might do its worst.” 
(from the wonderful book,  By the seasons:  Cookery at the Homeplace-1850  by Kathryn M Fraser)

And remember:  if you did get a turkey,  it,  too,  must be prepped before cooking:
Henry Walton
Plucking the Turkey
exhibited 1776
cut off the head,  hang up by the legs,  as the meat will be more white and wholesome if bled freely and quickly.  In winter,  kill them three days to a week before cooking.  Scald well by dipping in and out of a pail or tub of boiling water,  being careful not to scald so much as to set the feathers and make them more difficult to pluck;  place the fowl on a board with the neck towards you,  pull the feathers away from you,  which will be in the direction they naturally lie  (if pulled in a contrary direction the skin is likely to be torn),  be careful to remove all of the pin-feathers with a knife or a pair of tweezers;  singe,  but not smoke over blazing paper,  place on a meat-board,  and with a sharp knife cut off the legs a little below the knee to prevent the muscles from shrinking away from the joint,  and remove the oil-bag above the tail.  Take out the crop,  either by making a slit at the back of the neck or in front  (the last is better),  taking care that everything pertaining to the crop or windpipe is removed,  cut the neck-bone off close to the body,  leaving the skin a good length if to be stuffed;  cut a slit three inches long from the tail upwards,  being careful to cut only through the skin,  put in a finger at the breast and detach all the intestines,  taking care not to burst the gall-bag  (situated near the upper part of the breast-bone,  and attached to the liver;  if broken,  no washing can remove the bitter taint left on every spot it touches).  Put in the hand at the incision near the tail,  and draw out carefully all intestines;  trim off the fat from the breast and at the lower incision;  split the gizzard and take out the inside and inner lining  (throw liver,  heart,  and gizzard into water,  wash well,  and lay aside to be cooked and used for the gravy).  Wash the fowl thoroughly in several waters  (some wipe carefully without washing),  hang up to drain,  and it is ready to be stuffed,  skewered,  and placed to roast.
(from the 1877 Buckeye Cookbook.  Food preparation and cooking,  for the most part,  had not changed greatly in these early American years).
Here is how to make stuffing and to roast your turkey the 18th century way,  from Amelia Simmons'  American Cookery  (aka The First American Cookbook)  from 1796:  
From 1796~
To stuff a turkey:
Grate a wheat loaf,  one quarter of a pound butter,  one quarter of a pound salt pork,  finely chopped,  2 eggs,  a little sweet marjoram,  summer savory,  parsley and sage,  pepper and salt  (if the pork be not sufficient,)  fill the bird and sew up.
The same will answer for all Wild Fowl.

To stuff and roast a Turkey,  or Fowl
One pound soft wheat bread,  3 ounces beef suet,  3 eggs,  a little sweet thyme,  sweet marjoram,  pepper and salt,  and some add a gill of wine;  fill the bird therewith and sew up,  hang down to a steady solid fire,  basting frequently with salt and water,  and roast until a steam emits  from the breast,  put one third of a pound of butter into the gravy,  dust flour over the bird and baste with the gravy;  serve up with boiled onions and cranberry-sauce,  mangoes,  pickles or celery.
2.  Others omit sweet herbs,  and add parsley done with potatoes.
3.  Boil and mash 3 pints potatoes,  wet them with butter,  add sweet herbs,  pepper,  salt,  fill and roast as above.


So the ladies of the house got down to it - - - - 
Our first Thanksgiving harvest experience - 1770~
"...a glowing bed of red-hot coals,  banked the night before, 
still burned on the hearth..."
The start of our day,  and Larissa made sure to build up a good cooking fire.
She has 20+ years of hearth-cooking experience from working at the
1750 Daggett House at Greenfield Village. 
We were in good hands.

1770
Running a kitchen really did require a staggering range of skills,  including chopping kindling,  keeping a fire burning indefinitely,  knowing which wood was best for baking or frying,  plucking feathers from fowl,  butchering animals large and small,  cosseting  (caring for)  bread yeast,  brewing beer,  making cheese,  adjusting  'burners'  of coals on a hearth and gauging the temperature of a bake oven.  In fact,  the colonial cook would have to begin their work by  "building a good-sized fire on the hearth,  but once the logs had burned to coals,  the embers were moved around,  and carefully selected pieces of wood would be added to produce different kinds of heat,  often having several small fires going at once.  Piles of live embers on the hearth were like burners on a stove;  a gridiron set over a pile of coals could be used for broiling;  a pan set over coals on a
trivet could be used for frying;  and coals could be piled over and under a Dutch oven
for baking."  

1770
As Charlotte wrote:  "My goal was to learn and experience in part what it must
have been like.  We modern folk are so spoiled with all of our gadgets and
pre-processed everything that we miss the joy and sense of accomplishment
in THEE process itself."  

So each year following,  we continued to celebrate as if it were 250 years earlier:
Just so the reader understands our  time:
1770 = 2020
1771 = 2021
1772 = 2022
1773 = 2023
Larissa and Jackie in 1771

Our ladies worked diligently hard to ensure our 18th century harvest meal would be
as close to one from 1771.
They succeeded! 

Our 1771 gathering was a bit smaller than the previous year's.  I had gotten pneumonia  (in real life!)  that year and found myself in the hospital for a week and out of commission for a month,  so I was a mite weaker and could not really plan as I had hoped.  In all honesty,  I was uncertain on whether or not we would even have a harvest meal at the cabin that year.  But my friends Larissa,  Jackie,  and Charlotte insisted and promised they would keep an eye on me,  which they did.  And we were able to pull it off.  My forever thanks goes out to these wonderful ladies who I am proud and honored to call my friends.

A harvest meal in 1771 didn't necessarily have to be piled
high with food,  as we do today.  One can be thankful with a
smaller meal just as well.  And Larissa made my favorite
18th century dish:  fricandillas  (an 18th century meatball recipe).
Oh yeah...!

Due to unforeseen circumstances,  we did not have a separate Thanksgiving for 1772.
However,  being that we participated in Pioneer Day,  which is a harvest celebration in its own right  (in a public way),  we did have wonderful dinner. 
1772
Larissa could not join us for pioneer Day,  but Jackie & Charlotte worked together,  gathering their hearth-cooking knowledge and experience,  and put together a
fine repast of a meal.

1772
My wife was also there,  though she did spinning wheel presentations while the other two cooked.

In 1773,  we made sure to have a date set for our own Thanksgiving.  But first,  we participated in Waterloo's mid-October event,  Pioneer Day,  as we did the previous year.  So even though we were making plans for an upcoming  more  'private"  Thanksgiving celebration,  we still enjoyed quite the meal our ladies cooked up during our time there for Pioneer Day.
For our dinner meal on Pioneer Day we had pork chops  (from our slaughtered pigs)  with cooked apples  (from our orchard),   beets  (from our garden),  molasses bread  (from our wheat and our bartering for the molasses)  and butter  (from our cows - churned by Jackie and Charlotte),  and sweet potatoes  (from the market).
And to drink?  Why,  cider from our orchard,  of course!
Our traditional harvest feast~

However,  just a few weeks later,  it was back to business for our 1773 harvest celebration,  meaning replicating the holiday as if it truly were 1773.
And no visitors.
Again,  I believe we were successful in this endeavor.
1773
Jackie,  Charlotte,  and Larissa,  all worked together for a successful feast.
I am so very thankful that I found friends who have similar historical dreams
and wants as I.
I am blessed in so many ways.

If you think cooking Thanksgiving dinner today is a big job,  consider cooking it over an open fire,  making everything from scratch,  (and doing it almost daily).
Thanksgiving celebrations of the 18th century began with a church service,  so people could express their gratitude for a successful year.  Sadly,  in many American households, the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original religious significance;  instead,  it now centers on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends.
And has become the gateway to Christmas.
1773
A little trick of the trade:
see our plates and bowls there to the left of the hearth?
They are a bit on the cool side,  meaning our food will get cold much quicker
while setting upon them,  so there were warmed up slightly.
It worked!

We have a sort of motivational rallying cry:  "upping our game,"  meaning to constantly attempt to improve ourselves;  to be able to help each other improve by pointing out possible anachronisms in our fashions,  food,  mannerisms,  abilities,  chores...and it's not done in a snarky manner either.  We're here to encourage each other - not discourage.  We try to research through the many sources available,  such as books and reputable on-line sites,  as well as through other historians/living historians.  We gather the information and share it with one another and make the valiant attempt to include it in our 18th century lives.
One good example: 
1773
I brought along a couple of pumpkins that my wife grew in
our home garden.  Oh,  and a pie she made from others grown.
That's when Charlotte got a grand idea... 
You see,  while at Waterloo's mid-October Pioneer Day,  we saw Susan Dewey,  a tribal member of the Sault Ste.  Marie band of Chippewas,  demonstrate as a native woman of the mid-18th century  (1750-1770s)  cooking native foods.
1773 - Pioneer Day
Here we see Susan with her demonstration and presentation
as a native woman of the mid-18th century  (1750-1770s), 
cooking native foods,  such as a sweet pumpkin in the ground.

 So when Charlotte saw the pumpkins I brought along for our own Thanksgiving,  she immediately went to work,  remembering what she saw and was told a month earlier,  and here is what she did while we were replicating our own 1773 Thanksgiving.
1773
One of our activities this fall day was to dip candles.  
Well,  Charlotte  "borrowed"  some of my candle-making fire to cook her pumpkin
in a similar manner that Susan did,  and she set the pumpkin at the edge and not
directly in the flames.

1773
She tested it every-so-often to make sure it was cooking correctly.
I'm not even going to tell a minor fib - it turned out so good!
~Experiencing Our Research~

1773
With these ladies - Jackie,  Charlotte,  and Larissa - we
created as close to a harvest feast Thanksgiving as any
could do in 1773.
My historical heart is filled!

Our 1773 Thanksgiving harvest meal:
chicken,  stuffing,  mashed potatoes,  parsnips,  bread  (all cooked over an open
hearth),  and a pumpkin squash baked in the fire outside from a recipe
shared by a native American...plus beets! - and cider to wash it down - plus a
pumpkin pie - - -a true harvest feast created by the wonderful ladies who have
become my 18th century family!
By the way,  yes,  I am upping my game on the plate and will have a more
period-correct one from Samson's Historical next time out!

Going a few years back,  to 1770,  for our first harvest-Thanksgiving gathering.
How wonderful for us to be able to recreate such an event.
This was a sort of  "family & friends"  Thanksgiving.
This is not reenacting,  for we are living it.
This is not pretending,  for nothing we did  (or do)  was/is fake.
In other words,  we really and truly celebrated as was done two-and-a-half
centuries ago.
~Experiencing Our Research~
That's what we're doing.
Nothing fake about that.
Oh,  and our Thanksgiving celebrations?
Yep---they're real also.


I would also like to include here one of the most heartfelt notes I have ever seen about Thanksgiving,  which was written on Thursday,  November 21,  1793 by 75 year old Samuel Lane of  Stratham,  New Hampshire.
Here it is,  in part:
"As I was musing on my Bed being awake as Usual before Daylight;  recollecting the Many Mercies and good things I enjoy for which I ought to be thankful this Day;
The Life & health of myself and family, and also of so many of my Children,  grand Children and great grandchildren...
for my Bible and Many other good and Useful Books,  Civil and Religious Priviledges...
for my Land,  House and Barn and other Buildings,  & that they are preserv'd from fire & other accidents.
for my wearing Clothes to keep me warm,  my Bed & Bedding to rest upon.
for my Cattle,  Sheep & Swine & other Creatures,  for my support.
for my Corn, Wheat,  Rye Grass and Hay;  Wool,  flax,  Syder,  Apples,  Pumpkins,  Potatoes,  cabages,  tirnips, Carrots,  Beets,  peaches and other fruit.
For my Clock and Watch to measure my passing time by Day and by Night.
Wood,  Water,  Butter,  Cheese,  Milk,  Pork,  Beefe,  & fish, &c.
for Tea,  Sugar,  Rum,  Wine,  Gin,  Molasses,  peper,  Spice &  Money for to bye other Necessaries and to pay my Debts and Taxes &c.
for my lether,  Lamp oyl &  Candles,  Husbandry Utensils, & other tools of every sort...
Bless the Lord O my Soul and all that is within me Bless his holy Name..."

From the 1789 U. S.  Book of Common Prayer for our before meal Grace:
O MOST merciful Father,  who of thy gracious goodness hast heard the devout prayers of thy Church,  and turned our dearth and scarcity into plenty;  We give thee humble thanks for this thy special bounty;  beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness unto us,  that our land may yield us her fruits of increase,  to thy glory and our comfort;  through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Amen.

When the sun goes down...
An apple pie made from the heirloom Roxbury Russet apples.

A fine evening conversation...
what are we thankful for...?

Our little cabin home.
Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we’re grateful an’  glad to be there.
Home from the east land an’  home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an’  best.

~And there you have Thanksgiving in its glory.
Happy Thanksgiving from our
18th century family to your family!
So,  as you can see,  I have been blessed with living history opportunity in celebrating Thanksgiving Past,  in a very similar way that I've been able to celebrate Christmas past.  To find the right people who not only know and understand this history - have it in their heart,  mind,  and soul - and then to have it all come to pass,  is a true blessing indeed.
And,  God willing,  there will be more to come.

But wait---there's more!

For the week leading up to and including Thanksgiving I decided,  for a second year in a row,  to celebrate this holiday/holy day by posting history bits - a sort of  history-in-a-nutshell.
Many believe Thanksgiving is overlooked due to it being so close to,  and associated with,  Christmas.
But that would be the case only if you allow it to be.
My family and I keep the day as it is - - - a Thanksgiving harvest celebration.  
So,  this year,  as last year,  I have here what I've been posting on my Facebook page on the days leading up to Thanksgiving - posting daily Thanksgiving celebration history lessons in photos and text.  
(By the way,  in past postings I have written about Thanksgiving's histories before:  
and

Saturday,  November 18:
Heading into Thanksgiving week - it's this Thursday,  folks! - I thought I'd repeat what I did last year and give a 
As we find ourselves moving up to this ancient harvest holiday,  one that all cultures celebrated at one time or another,  I thought this awesome photograph taken inside the 1831 Eagle Tavern  (not by me,  but by William Dudzinski‎)  a few years back perfectly epitomizes the look and feel of a Thanksgiving harvest,  with a strong 19th century perspective.  It bears a close resemblance to the classic cornucopia. 
"In classical antiquity,  the cornucopia - also called the horn of plenty - was a symbol of abundance and nourishment,  commonly a large horn-shaped container overflowing with produce,  flowers,  or nuts.  In our modern times,  the cornucopia is used purely for Thanksgiving decorations.  It continues to symbolize abundance,  a bountiful harvest,  and, by extension,  an appreciation for both of those things."
And for those who enjoy a deeper history:  the earliest reference to a cornucopia is found in Greek and Roman mythology,  which dates back nearly 3,000 years ago.  The name itself comes from Latin,  cornu copiae,  which translates to horn of abundance.

Sunday,  November 19:
Since the picture I used on my Facebook page is already near the top of this post,  I decided to use this one in its place  (it is very similar to this one).
Heading into Thanksgiving week - it's this Thursday,  folks! - I thought I'd give a daily Thanksgiving celebration history lesson in photos and text:
Early 1700s  Thanksgiving observances,  which could occur throughout the year,  was not a day marked by plentiful food and drink as is today's custom,   but rather a day set aside for prayer and fasting;  a true  “thanksgiving”  was a day of prayer and pious humiliation,  thanking God for His special Providence. 
But,  as the 18th century wore on,  it gradually turned more into a festive celebration as much as it was a holy day  (or holiday). 
Men went a-fowling or hunting for deer as an addition to feasting upon the vegetables grown.  And the fruits & vegetables would include apples,  pumpkins and other types of squash,  green beans,  root vegetables such as beets and carrots and potatoes...then there was the slaughtering of hogs.

Monday,  November 20:
Being that we are now in Thanksgiving week - it's this Thursday,  folks! - here is the next part of my daily Thanksgiving celebration history lesson in photos and text:
"While many paintings of   “the First Thanksgiving”  show a single long table with several Pilgrims and a few Native people,  there were actually twice as many Wampanoag people as colonists.  It is unlikely that everyone could have been accommodated at one table.  Rather,  Wampanoag leaders like Massasoit and his advisors were most likely entertained in the home of Plymouth Colony’s governor,  William Bradford."  (from the  "Indian Country"  web site)

Tuesday,  November 21
Being that we are now in Thanksgiving week - it's this Thursday,  folks! - here is the next part of my daily Thanksgiving celebration history lesson in photos and text:
What it all boils down to is that Thanksgiving is one big Harvest celebration.
"When the farmer has fallowed and tilled all the land,
And scattered the grain with a bountiful hand
And the team that had labored with harrow and plough,
Has conveyed the rich produce safe home to the mow.
Sing, HARVEST HOME!  HARVEST HOME!
And shout with full voices our HARVEST HOME!"

Wednesday,  November 22
Continuing on in my series on historical Thanksgiving - - -
In our modern day,  historically,  the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday afterward are the busiest travel days,  according to the Transportation Security Administration.  And since the Thanksgiving holiday was,  in the early 1700s,  a day set aside for prayer and fasting - a day of prayer and pious humiliation,  thanking God for His special Providence - many residents of our early republic found their way to church by way of walking,  for it was the most common mode of travel,  and the cheapest in the 18th century.  Some folks may have used horses,  wagons,  and even sleds or sleighs  (if there was snow),  but mostly they walked.  The lower classes especially rarely,  if ever,  travelled simply for pleasure.  People would travel by foot for extraordinary distances to get supplies,  to conduct business,  to visit friends and family,  and to go to their Sunday or Holy Day church services  (which could include Thanksgiving).  They would then walk home and enjoy the bounty in which they had just thanked God for.
Yes,  even in the cold.
The First Thanksgiving Day Proclamation occurred on November 1,  1777.  Another proclamation was on November 5,  1782.  Yet another,  by the President of the United States of America,  George Washington,  stated  (in part):  "whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God...Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being,  who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was,  that is,  or that will be..."
After the Revolutionary War,  just the fact that the former colonists even had a national day of thanksgiving was a tremendous step forward in creating an American identity,  and the former colonials had previously celebrated individually or as part of the British Empire.  Now they had experienced an event - the War and Independence - that had affected them all and formalized a celebration that involved each.  Americans had just taken a major step on the trail from colonies to states and from states to nation.
(Thank you to Lynn Anderson for taking a wonderful picture,  one that I named  "Heading Home"…and not minding my Daggett modification-lol)

Thanksgiving Day Thursday,  November 23
This just may be one of my most favorite photos of a colonial-era feast I've ever taken,  and I've taken quite a few.  I happened to be at the right place and the right time with my camera a few years back when former Daggett presenter, Gigi, set the table for a mid-18th century harvest feast, and I was able to capture the image for posterity. Now,  as this was shot inside the 1750 home of Samuel & Anna Daggett,  we don't know if the Daggett's actually participated in the Thanksgiving holiday,  for they were Congregationalists and were strict to follow the bible.  They did not celebrate Christmas or Easter,  for neither date is specified.  I have little doubt,  however,  that they celebrated the harvest - thanking God for their bounty - but not sure if they celebrated with the country as a whole after the proclamations of 1777,  1782,  and 1789,  or if they just gave thanks on their own.
However,  I would like to include a Thanksgiving prayer here from the 18th century:
O MOST merciful Father,  who of thy gracious goodness hast heard the devout 
prayers of thy Church,  and turned our dearth and scarcity into cheapness and plenty:  We give thee humble thanks for this thy special bounty;  beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness unto us,  that our land may yield us her fruits of increase,  to thy glory and our comfort;  through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Amen.
The pioneering American surgeon Mason Finch Cogswell,  born in 1691 in Canterbury,  Connecticut,  described a typical eighteenth century Thanksgiving meal in his 1788 journal,  where,  on Thanksgiving day he attended church in the morning,  ate a dinner afterward consisting of turkey,  pork,  pumpkins,  and apple pies.  Cogswell also spent time with his father,  then sang songs and ate apples and nuts in the kitchen with his stepsisters before going to bed.
What??  No Detroit Lions football???
I pray you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and everyday - may God's blessings be upon you.

Until next time,  see you in time.

So many thanks must go to Waterloo Farm Museum!
To read about early America's Thanksgiving celebrations,  please click HERE
To read about a Victorian Thanksgiving celebration,  please click HERE

Celebrating and participating in 1770s life and activities~
Here are the links to all of our cabin day experiences  (so far):
If you are interested in our other cabin excursions,  please click the links below:
To read about our 2020 autumn excursion at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2021 wintertime excursion at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2021 springtime excursion at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2021 summertime excursion at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2021 summer harvesting of the flax at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2021 autumn excursion making candles at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2022 winter excursion at the cabin,  please click HERE
To read about our 2022 spring excursion at the cabin,  please click HERE
To read about our 2022 summer excursion at the cabin,  please click HERE
To read about our 2022 autumn excursion at the cabin  (Pioneer Day),  please click HERE
To read about our 2023 winter excursion at the cabin - Candlemas,  please click HERE
To read about our 2023 spring excursion at the cabin - Rogation Sunday,  please click HERE
To read about our 2023 late spring - more planting at the cabin  (& early farming history),  click HERE
To read about the 2023 early summer weeding at the cabin  (and a timeline event),  please click HERE
To read about the 2023 autumn Pioneer Day event we participated in,  please click HERE
To read about the 2023 Thanksgiving/harvest celebration we held,  please click HERE

Celebrating and participating in an 1860s/Victorian harvest:
2014 - Our first living history Harvest Home at Wolcott Mill!
2015 - A mighty large group of participants at Wolcott Mill!
2016 - So many traditional activities at Wolcott Mill!
2017 - Held at Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne
2018 - And another at Fort Wayne
2019 - Held at Armada

Harvest celebrations at my home with my family & friends:
2016 - First time candle dipping at my home - my daughter & her friends
2017 - Traditions with fall colors!
2018 - From Corn to Candles
2019 - With grandkids!
2020 - Apples & Candles
2021 - I was pretty sick & didn't do much with family,  but I did get some nice Village pictures
2022 - October - lots of fall activities,  including Greenfield Village
2022 - A Feast of Friends in November - colonial oriented

Fall Harvest / Fall Flavors Weekends at Greenfield Village:
2020 was the beginning of the end;  they had small doses of harvest/flavors,  but the end was in sight.
2021
2022


Gun info came from HERE
Turkey info HERE























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