A few years back this was my first living history Christmas event and I loved it. I did not care that I had to drive in a snowstorm or that it was really cold during the day and I basically stayed huddled by the fire for the entirety of the event. This site is beautiful, I love the rolling hills of Missouri, and my friends are wonderfully talented interpreters.

My favorite part about these Christmas programs is bringing history alive for a particular season and purpose.

Here’s the big take away from the event this year. When you and your crew are interpreting in different buildings, it makes everything more believable if your stories intertwine and connect. We all portrayed family (though none of us are actually related). Here’s the run down: my mother and I were in one building, my father was in the tavern, and my parents’ nephew ran the store. While speaking with the public, we then referenced each other. For example, my goal as the daughter of the proprietor of the boarding house was to bring an eldest child’s perspective to the house. (More on this below). The store owner, Mr. C, spoke of how he had the best bed in the house — the one nearest the kitchen heart; and my father spoke of his wife and daughter and their benevolence at this time of year. The public actually picked up on these cues and then asked us questions about our family members because they had already met them or I would ask them if they had met my father and if the person said no, I would encourage them to talk to him. I gave them a way in. This type of interpreting may be the nirvana of living history.

Mrs. B worked in the kitchen, talking about the food preparation and her ancestor’s heritage, which was eye opening for the public because they learned that back in the early 1800s, not everyone celebrated Christmas like we do today. For her, Christmas was all about helping those in need and not about putting up a Christmas tree. We should love our neighbors and ensure their health and safety.

catherine-and-nancy

We had a variety of food — pies, baked goods, fresh fruit. The kitchen looked very homey and had the sense of “I’m in the midst of cooking all this food for the holidays,” which was good because it shouldn’t look like a museum display that no one had touched in years. The house looked lived in.

treats

 

Shrewsbury cakes are the best!!

shrewsbury-cakes

 

 

Our house for the weekend…

engeldew

 

I hung out in the parlor and worked on a sewing project: a new dish cloth for my mother. It was a good conversation piece for myself and the public. My way in: to connect to my mother who was in the room across the hall, I explained how her benevolence toward our neighbors year after year instilled solid values of helping one another and giving back to your community. Even though our “family” did not exchange Christmas presents, I wanted to give back to someone who had inspired me and shaped me to be the person I was and that was my reason for helping my mother with all the cooking and making her something useful for her daily life.

As I explained this to the public, I could see many mothers and fathers nodding their heads and smiling. Another tidbit of information I shared was taken from my own childhood existence and fit beautifully — many times my very own mother would ask me to do one thing for her and then 10 seconds later ask me to do something else. It was frustrating because I did not always know which one was more important to get done first and if I did the wrong thing, I could get in trouble. To make this story relevant to my audience, I ended on a reflective note for the children: when your parents ask you to do something, respect their wishes and complete the task swiftly because you will be rewarded in the end. (Upon hearing these words, I saw lots of parents elbow their children. Hehe).

My set up…

work-table

 

The tavern…

ox-bow-sign-1

 

They roasted turkey that we then feasted on during the day and at night!

roasting-turkey

 

 

The men of the tavern…

 

Saturday during the day was gorgeous and I went for my obligatory walk around the grounds…

 

And some more random photos…

 

sean-1

 

sign-1

terry

 

notions

coffin-meat-pie

 

Until next year…

village-green

 

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