Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas in Colonial America - A Trip to Virginia and Maryland

I cherish spending the December holidays at home.  I love preparing my home with Christmas decorations.  I enjoy having family together for Christmas Day. So I rarely leave town at Christmas.

Our house in Rio Rancho for Christmas, 2006

Our Christmas Tree, 2011

I enjoy cooking and baking special meals and treats for the holidays. I love opening up my home to neighbors, friends, and family.

On December 14th, we held a Holiday Open House and welcomed 17 neighbors and friends.

... and I love a White Christmas
Snow in my backyard in 2011
Family and Friends for Christmas Dinner, 2009
River of Lights in Albuquerque, Christmas 2006

Bonfires in Santa Fe on Christmas Eve

Christmas Caroling on Canyon Road  in Santa Fe on Christmas Eve

I especially love Christmas Eve in New Mexico with it's different cultural traditions, foods, and outdoor celebrations of bonfires, luminarias (farolitos), and Las Posadas.
Luminarias on Christmas Eve on Canyon Road in Santa Fe

But this year we left beautiful New Mexico on December 20th for a Colonial American Christmas in Williamsburg, Virginia. The traditions are very different, primarily English, there was no snow, and it was, initially, rather warm.  The weather cooled to freezing by Christmas Eve.  We enjoyed a delightful Yuletide Supper at the Williamsburg Lodge on December 24th, complete with carols sung by entertainers in 18th century dress.

On a chilly Christmas Day, we had a Christmas Day Dinner at one of the historic taverns with our friends from Maine, Bob and Sharon. Along with Gloucester Cheddar Cheese Soup and Sweet Potato Muffins, we enjoyed Roast Turkey, Crab Stuffed Salmon, and Roast Beef, root vegtables, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato-Apple Turnovers.  It was freezing cold outside, so we warmed up with Hot Apple Cider with Rum.

Christmas Day Dinner at Christiana Campbell's Tavern
Colonial Williamsburg is run by a foundation and there is plenty of revolutionary era history everywhere (many of its buildings have been restored) and characters from the 18th century walk the streets and practice the crafts of their day.

The Governor's Palace

Inside the Capitol

In the Lobby of the Williamsburg Inn

Williamsburg Inn

The Capitol (formerly the House of Burgesses)

One of the many Christmas Wreaths on the doors of residents in Historic Williamsburg

Gingerbread houses in the Williamsburg Lodge

A statue of Norborne Berkeley dressed up for the season at William and Mary College

A comedic play in the Raleigh Tavern

More Christmas wreathes on the residents' doors

All the wreathes were made of mostly fruit and vegetable materials - this one has large forest fungi

The wreathes are non-electric in keeping with the historical period

This one had pineapple, an especially sought after imported fruit by the colonists

The wreathes are awarded prizes by Colonial Williamsburg

It was quite chilly Christmas night as we walked down the Duke of Gloucester Street in historic Williamsburg

Christmas Night - visitors waiting for the Lighting of the Taverns

Here comes the Fife and Drum Corps in the Lighting of the Taverns on December 25th

The Fife and Drum Corps

Vicki on Christmas Night

Ron on Christmas Night

Our friends Bob and Sharon joined us as we watched the Lighting of the Taverns
On December 26th, we celebrated the First Night of Christmas with an organ concert at the Bruton Parish Episcopal Church.

While we were in Virginia, we also toured nearby historic Jamestown and the battlefield of Yorktown where the British General Cornwallis surrendered to the American colonial troops in 1781.  We drove to Charlottesville and had lunch at the historic Mitchie Tavern with our friend Spyridan Simotas, a doctoral student at the University of Virginia and his friend Eva, visiting from Cyprus.  Then we all toured Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello

Eva and Spyro at Mitchie Tavern

Ron and I at Mitchie Tavern


Mr. Jefferson and I
 I've been reading Jon Meacham's Jefferson biography, The Art of Power, during my trip.  It has been excellent background in understanding the places and significant events that have occurred there where I was now visiting.

Ron and I left Williamsburg for the eastern shore of Virginia, via the 23 mile long Chesapeake Bridge-Tunnel, on December 27th.  We stopped along the way at Chincoteague Island where the Chincoteague Ponies made famous in the 1947 book, Misty of Chincoteague, live.

The tunnel under Chesapeake Bay

The bridge over the Chesapeake Bay

Ships passing over the tunnel headed toward Washington, Newport News or Baltimore
We stopped for great homemade ice cream at the Island Creamery.  Then headed for Assateague Island to look for ponies.  We saw some in the distance, grazing.  Too far away for my camera to take a good picture. The scenery here is amazing. It is a National Seashore of the National Park Service.  There were quite a few fishermen out on the beach.

We left for Annapolis, Maryland in the afternoon.  A Maryland native of the area that we met during the Yuletide Supper in Williamsburg recommended The Narrows Restaurant to us for great Maryland seafood.  We found it about 5:30PM just before crossing the Bay Bridge to Annapolis.  Cream of crab soup, crab cakes, everything was wonderful. But we were really tired and so we settled into our hotel for the night.  The next day, we toured Annapolis (December 28th).

What fun to find a boat decorated with the famous leg lamp prize from A Christmas Story

Dock Street stores and taverns at the Inner Harbor

Author and veteran Coast Guardsman Alex Haley honored with a statue by the harbor
We enjoyed dinner with an old family friend that evening and he also delighted us with a quick tour of the Annapolis Naval Academy.  The next morning, we were met with a cold heavy downpour of rain. We drove to Washington DC (Reagan Airport) very early so we would not miss our plane. After hours of waiting in the airport, we finally flew home via Houston so we could spend New Year's Eve here in New Mexico.  Happy New Year to everyone!