Because we are suckers for reminiscing our first date, DR and I took the kids to Fort Larned, KS over the weekend. Fort Larned was a Union fort during the Civil War right on the Sante Fe Trail and on Saturday they were having their Christmas celebration.
We started off in the visitors center where their were some artifacts for us to check out and books to buy for some last minute Christmas gifts.
Then we headed off to the fort's hospital for a 1860's Christmas in the western frontier.
With no electricity the whole room was lit up with dozens of candles which created a beautiful soft glow throughout the whole room. However, I couldn't get my camera to get a good photo of what the room really looked like. I had to use the flash and I got brightly lit photos; not at all what the room was like.
The officers wives were dressed in their finest hoop skirts and they began the night by feeding us a traditional fort Christmas dinner! They had oyster stew and tomato soup, homemade breads, lemonade and warm eggnog, marble and spice cakes, gingerbreads, cookies, and pies, pies, PIES! Apple, custard, raisin, pumpkin and more....mmmmm!! Sorry, I was too busy eating to take pictures of the food.
After we had finished gorging ourselves on the fabulous food, all the visitors settled down on the benches, conveniently placed around a hot pot belly stove, for Christmas carols. We were led in singing of Christmas hymns by the quarter master, I believe.
After the singing the re-enactors explained some of the conditions those at the fort had to deal with while preparing their Christmas celebration. There weren't evergreens on the frontier so sage bushes, shrubs or even elk antlers were substituted for the Christmas tree. Eggs for baking were scarce also and a letter written by an officers wife, at the time, recounts how a shipment of eggs that had arrived were each wrapped individually in cotton batting to protect them during the trip.
Of course what Christmas, even on the prairie, would be complete without a visit from Santa. He asked Yap what he wanted for Christmas and Yap answered, "Remember? I sent you my letter already!"
And Santa, right on cue, "Oh yes! I read it a couple weeks ago. My elves are working on it right now."
Yap turned to me with shining eyes, "Mom! Did you hear that? Santa's elves are working on my Christmas list!!"
We joined in a game of drop the hankerchief. Everyone stands in a circle while one person coyly drops a hankerchief behind someones back then they take off running around the circle. The hankerchief is picked up by the person in the circle and they run around the circle in the opposite direction, both racing for the empty spot in the circle. Whoever loses has to drop the hankerchief on the next round. You wouldn't think this would be a contact sport but more than once I was sure someone would get knocked to the ground!
We only stayed half the evening considering how grumpy Yahoo was getting (it was way past bedtime) and we still had over an hour drive back home. There were many other activities planned that we just couldn't stay for. But we are already planning on coming back during the day when it's a bit warmer.
Have you ever visited a living history Christmas? Where?