Unlike many other holiday decorations in shopping malls, the traditionally-inspired decorations in Colonial Williamsburg are different every year. While the ingredients vary -- a holly wreath one December is replaced the next by strawflowers or oyster shells – the "themes" are often the same. The decorations on the historic trade shops usually reflect the trade inside, with locks of hair woven into the wreath on the wigmaker's shop, and miniature fashion-dolls on the one outside the shop occupied by the tailors and mantua-makers.
It's also interesting to see how the decorations on specific buildings change each year. Shown here is the Dr. Peter Hay house (which has a fascinating history of its own.) In 2010, the Christmas decor had a political tone – at least the politics of 1776 – complete with a "Don't Tread On Me" warning on the front door and a hanging effigy of George III. In 2011, the decorations featured baskets, red and green apples, and a horse collar. This year the decorations have a decidedly sporting air, with horse shoes and deer antlers on the front door, left. The bay window, above, that once served as Dr. Hay's apothecary shop window is decorated with crossed wooden swords and stirrups holding apples.
Clearly I'm not the only one who's fascinated by this house's annual decorations, too. As you can see from the photographs, it almost always earns one of the decoration-contest blue ribbons.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.