Being Quietly Merry & Christmas at the Fort

In my recent post, Eight Ways to Make December Merry, I shared some ideas for how to make the holidays fun.

I’ll be very honest here. The last eight or so Decembers haven’t been so merry for me. I won’t go into all the details, but it was a very, very challenging period. In those days, articles or posts like mine would make me want to scream. “Real life” doesn’t stop just because it’s Christmas. It seemed strange to suddenly be expected to be an overly peppy “Christmas person” when I was feeling anything but.

This is the first Christmas where I actually feel like being “quietly merry”.  I call it being quietly merry because it’s not all about hoopla. You know what I mean…racing around like a maniac overspending, overscheduling and overdoing things that you really might not want to do. Now, if you love all that Christmas hoopla, more power to you. I hope we all get to do whatever brings us the most joy during this season. But as someone who didn’t enjoy the hoopla, being quietly merry has helped me get some of my Christmas-iness back.  It’s about doing things – some of them relatively simple – that might help you enjoy the season.

Since this is my return to enjoying the holidays, there will be several posts this week commemorating that. These will be shorter posts, just talking about some of the things I’ve been doing to return to the land of Christmas.

Although, I will honestly never be one of those super-duper Christmas people. It’s just not me, you know? So here’s to all of us quietly merry folks.

Now let me tell you about Fort George Garrison Christmas.

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This was my first time back inside the Fort since I was about eleven years old. I attended the Battle of Fort George this summer (which was very well done, by the way).  However, I spent so much time at the Battle and in the Camp that I didn’t do the Fort. When I heard about the Christmas festivities, I was intrigued. How exactly would Christmas be celebrated in a Fort out in the middle of nowhere in the early 1800’s? I knew that somehow the Officers would have it pretty good, but what about the soldiers?

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When we arrived, we were just in time for the musket firing.

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Shooting a musket seems complicated to me. There are several steps in the process, and I can’t imagine trying to do it quickly in the heat of battle.

Next we went into the Blockhouse to see how it would be done up for the holidays. We were told that the soldiers would decorate with whatever they had at hand. That meant their own personal belongings, or perhaps a British flag.

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For the officers, it was a different story.

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A gentleman’s lifestyle had to be maintained, of course.

Children were learning how to make traditional Christmas decorations in the Officers’ Mess.

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I love simple, traditional Christmas decor, and was getting some ideas for next year. I would love to take a workshop in how to make it myself.

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Christmas carols kept the festivity going as we wandered around the Quarters.

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After that, we made our way to the Officers’ Kitchen, which was a flurry of activity. A traditional meal as would be served to the Officers was being prepared that day.

I don’t have a fondness for cooking –  even with all the modern appliances and gadgets that are supposed to make it “easy” and “fun”. So I have extra respect for all those people who cooked meals over an open flame, with no gadgets and gizmos. The women even had to do it while dressed in a long gown.

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Roaming around the grounds, we stumbled across the jail, which was not so merry. I chose to remain outside, and soak up the surroundings.

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There’s something I find haunting about the grounds. I don’t mean haunting in a spooky ghost sense, it’s just a place that seems to have such a presence. Being there on a grey day probably just added to the atmosphere too.

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I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to come back, but it was nice to combine it with the Christmas event. The Garrison Christmas is over, but the Fort is still open on weekends through the winter, from 12pm-4pm.

Tomorrow I’ll be talking about some recent meals that have made me merry. I don’t like to cook, but I do enjoy good food, and there is lots of it to be found in Niagara.