Thursday, December 16, 2010

Strawbery Banke

For our annual Christmas gift from my inlaws, we get to have an adventure.  We definitely prefer this to things, and so many nice memories have been made and times enjoyed together that may not happen otherwise.  For the past two years, we've gone to Charmingfare Farms.  You may remember if you're a long time reader the two posts I did about those adventures in past years.  A wonderful place, we had a lot of family fun on those nights which included a lovely dinner together followed by a sleigh ride around the woods and fields where they have thousands of lights strung to enchant the night.  A truly fun time.

This year, since we'd done that two years, and well, there are so many things to see in our beautiful state, we thought we'd try something new.  We wracked our brains for days to come up with just the right thing, when Music Man said, "how about Strawbery Banke? Do they do a Christmas thing?"

Strawbery Banke is one of the first establishments in the new world back in the 1600's, when NH was still part of Massachusetts.  It is a museum of sorts, and has 36 buildings original to a time period when the country was still new and beyond.  Thirty two of the buildings are original to the site and 4 have been moved to the site to save them from demolition in other parts of the town of Portsmouth, which is where all this history lies.  Not the least impressive of the buildings relocated to the Banke is the Goodwin Mansion, which used to be on Islington Street and was moved there in 1963 to save it.  To think this magnificent building would be torn down is really sad, but so glad that people with the foresight and ambition saved it for future generations. Below are some re-inactors singing Christmas carols in the parlor of the mansion...they have beautiful voices!

The dining room, set for dinner.  I loved the hand made sign on the hearth...
It was a great learning experience for the boys.  They got to see what life was like in times before us as the museum has the buildings set to experience different periods in time.  There was even a general store, which was set in the '40's during the war, with original packaging on products and a re-inactor who told of her excitement of her brother coming home for the holidays on leave from the war. 
She had baked him a special cake...

We enjoyed the packaging and how few products were in stores.  The boys could not get over how this was supposed to be a grocery store, they are so used to modern excess.

We also particularly enjoyed walking around the streets and imagining what it would have been like back in the olden days when we met Sea Captain Keyran Walsh walking amongst us on his way back from the tavern, saw horse drawn wagons and heard caroling and brass band music.

I was able to imagine a time when things were simpler and also more difficult for the people who came before us in their time.  When choices were not as hard or as many, but everyday life was so much more taxing for them.  When clothes were washed by hand, when heat came only from a fireplace, and gardens supplied the food.  The work that went into their every day existence is amazing to me.  I took time to wonder about the people that lived there and if they would like it that people are still able to see their lives and honor their memory.  I had visited Strawbery Banke back when I was 12, but to be honest, it didn't hold the excitement for me then that it does now.  Then, it was just a bunch of old stuff, what was the point?  Now, I understand the true value of being able to glimpse life in the past and the generations from which we have come.  And to truly appreciate the fact that this has been saved for generations to learn from and is open to the public for all to see rather then torn down or just private homes. 

I do not know the people sitting down, they were enjoying the carolers as well, but I loved the happiness on their faces.

The night ended with a cup of warm cider, some caroling, and the cat scavenger hunt that the Banke had arranged for the kids. They had to find a black stuffed cat in 7 of the buildings, a real highlight for them, and kept them thoroughly engaged in the night (what a great idea on the Banke's part!).  A truly fun time for all of us, we loved the whole experience.  I will definitely return when I can wander around in the summer and read all the information and history that is posted all over the museum. 

Thank you to my inlaws for providing this experience and memory for all.   And, if you've never been to Strawbery Banke or maybe it's been a while, stop and see the wonderful Christmas program they have set up, it's a very heartwarming and informative night!

Wishing for you a glimpse at Christmas' past, ~Peacemom

1 comment:

small farm girl said...

What a fun and interesting place! I wished we had something like that around here.