Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Time Traveling

Hi all,

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?


Lisa Dale


Deb said...

Good morning, Lisa. Merry Christmas!
There is a mansion in Cedar Rapids, Iowa called Brucemore and it and the grounds are beautiful all year round. At Christmastime the mansion is absolutely gorgeous with greenery, ornaments, trees, bows, and decorations. There are a couple of different tours, such as a candlelight tour, the servants' tour, and the main tour. Brucemore was owned by a prominent Cedar Rapids family and the remaining member left it to the city upon her death. It is now a National Historic Trust monument.

Patti said...

That sounds like a wonderful evening. Something like that would absolutely get me into the Christmas spirit. This is the only time of year I wish I lived somewhere where it snowed!

Rebekah E. said...

That sounded like such a great evening.

Mary said...

Hi Lisa!
I think I get into the christmas spirit while I'm decorating my apartment. How can you not start feeling christmassy when you are putting out santas and decorating the tree?

Estella said...

Putting up the tree gets me in a Christmasy mood.

Lisa Dale said...

@Deb, Brucemore sounds like my kind of place!

@Patti, LOL! This is the time of year I wish I lived somewhere it doesn't snow!

@Rebekah, It was. I'm always a sucker for old timey music and cider.

@Mary, True! My guy and I will put on the "fire" (that is, the DVD that looks like a fire and sings Xmas songs) when we decorate. It's so silly, but fun!

@Estella, me too. But I only do the decorating part.

Linda Henderson said...

I enjoy the Christmas music. That usually makes it seem more like the holiday season. It's been cold here, but we really haven't had any snow yet. A few flakes, but nothing to really call snow. I finished my shopping last week just in case. Happy holidays everyone.

Michele L. said...

Hi Lisa,

What a lovely time you had at the mansion touring the grounds. I love touring old mansions too. We have one near us that they always decorate for the holidays that they give tours through. It is a wonderful old mansion with lot's of carved wood.

To get me in the Christmas mmod, I love decorating the house with all my favorite decorations and playing Christmas music while I do it. Also, I get out all my Christmas anthologies by Harlequin and read them. Oh, and also I love to bake cookies for the holidays.

Merry Christmas!

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cheryl c said...

What gets me in the Christmas spirit? Listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, decorating the tree, and reading Christmas romances!

Wishing YOU a wonderful Christmas!

Dina said...

Hi Lisa,

Just stopping by to say hi and thanks for visiting one of my fav blogs, Hope to get your book soon.