Last night, my guy and I went to an 18th century Hudson River Valley mansion to take a candlelight Christmas tour. There was no electricity anywhere--just glass or tin lanterns, and the long dirt path along the quiet Croton River leading into the darkness was marked only by lanterns here and there. It took my breath away—all that silence and darkness. What is it about rivers that they always seem so much more incredibly shimmery and beautiful on nights when it’s so icy cold?
The Van Cortlandt mansion had been decked out for Christmas—which is to say it hadn’t really been decked out very much at all, since our 18th-centry brethren didn’t really do up the holidays the way we do. In fact, the mansion—which on a good day could accommodate a party of a whopping 25 people—was pretty sedate.
However, after the tour of the mansion our lantern wielding guide let us across the frozen grounds to the tenant house, where the farmers (interpreters) who rented and worked the land were celebrating 12th night.
We stood around a bonfire to get warm, then were led into a tiny anteroom in the farm house where a man dressed as a woman proclaimed himself “The Lord of Misrule” and proceeded to name us all to be players in the royal court (I for some reason was given the “drunken wench” card, and had to stumble around for a bit in the name of theatrics).
We also were led by a pretty young woman in a mobcap and a little old lady with not-so-authentic plastic glasses in a square dance, as a single fiddler played a tune in a tiny, candle-lit kitchen. Then it was outside again for some hot cider and laughs with the merry little group we ended up with.
It was a great night and was very much in the holiday spirit. I feel like I’ve got new energy to take on the holidays!
What do you do to get yourself in that holiday frame of mind?
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