Despite the fact that we had such an interesting situation at my brother’s house for Thanksgiving, we simply relaxed the day after, finishing washing and putting away the china, glass and silverware and then doing mundane things like laundry, house cleaning and putting together a grocery list to replenish the pantry.
Doyle left early but put a fresh pot of coffee on to greet my sister and I as we stumbled into the nicely warm kitchen. Coralline was still asleep as my sister and I tend to be early risers. We tacked the chores then Sis went on line for her job.
Coralline woke up and being a good child got clean and dressed, she asked if she could help but we had things well in hand so she investigated the house, poking around in various corners and un-used rooms, going up into the “lumber room”(aka the Cemetery) and then outside wandering in the now bear garden, she sat for a long time looking at the Koi fish that were in the newly fixed pond, and discovered the Pet Cemetery that was further back on the property, I was not aware that we had our own private little Cemetery so when she came in excitedly to tell me I went out to look and pullin away brambles and overgrowth I discovered that these were pets my Great-Aunt had, each with their own stone.
"Well" I said to my niece "It looks like we have our own graveyard, we'll have to plan on how to fix it up during the warm months" and found myself pleased with the idea of such an undertaking, perhaps finding some old iron fencing to surround the area to give it a special cemetery look, and I could see that Coralline liked the idea.
I was further amused as Coralline poked her head into the pantry, the basement and laundry room to complete her investigation of the house. Then coming back into the kitchen to finally have her breakfast and her mind full of questions, she didn’t want to bother her other aunt. While she ate and asked me questions, especially about the Pet Cemetery, I drank my coffee and answered them.
The day was still early and she, like myself, enjoyed the clear cold sparkling sunshine, she and I felt we did not want to waste a minute of the day, it didn’t matter that we were going to be doing mundane errands on this day. We decided that any clothes shopping could wait until Sunday, as neither of us wanted to face the Black Friday aftermath.
So I decided that we would do our errands riding in my vintage car, which was another surprise enjoyment to her.
That evening while preparing dinner she did her homework with the aid of my sister and then we told her about going to the Dickens Christmas Faire the next day. My sister had not been to it for nearly 10 years and felt it was time to catch up, Coralline had heard about it and always wanted to go but each year it was always something her brothers wanted to do. This year I told her is going to be different.
There were several holiday events that I had made arrangements for with her parents permission Coralline was going to see the Nutcracker, the Dickens Faire and possibly one other event. I do know we were going to also take in driving in one local city to see their Christmas Tree Lane, Coralline had been asking her parents if she could come each weekend during the Holiday Season to stay with me as well as the Holiday Break, before I committed myself to this I talked it over with Marie and Doyle and frankly they thought it would be fun to share the Christmas Season with a child in tow. So it was arranged.
The next day, Coralline with the enthusiasm of childhood, came bouncing into her Aunt’s bedroom and then into mine, while Doyle hid groaning under the bed covers demanding more sleep. She had found the long skirt, blouse and crochet shawl that I had laid out for her to wear in preparation for the event.
We went to the Dickens Fair and immersed ourselves in Victorian England. No Black Friday for us, not for us the waiting in line to purchase the latest electronic gadget. No---it was to become immersed in the Gothic Christmas Spirit.
I love Charles Dickens, a Gothic writer of the “First Water” as one would say, he had such an unhappy childhood and was plagued with problems after surviving a horrendous train accident---there is more but I recommend that you read a good biography of this man who, through his writing and his personal experience helped define the Victorian period.
My sister had been so busy with her work that this was one of the few times she could relax and enjoy herself, with the exception of the long weekend in Vegas.
Having bought our tickets on line, we managed to get there early and had seats to see Mr. Dickens introduce the characters from his books and with the swirl of Mr. Fezziewig’s ball the Faire was opened. I loved seeing Coralline taking in all of this with rapt attention and wonder.
My sister was smiling at what she was seeing and later she turned to me and said “I had almost forgotten how to laugh”, as we watched the antics in one of the theatres that was set up for entertainment.
But it never fails to take me into its magical moment with the scents of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, roasted nuts, and fudge, of roasting chestnuts, and the swirl of bangers and fish and chips, the noise of the news boys, and seeing glimpses of characters from Dickens’ novels and Victorian England including the Queen and her husband Prince Albert.
You forget that they are all actors so immersed are they into their roles, we encountered Mark Twain and obtained his calling card, Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson hurrying because “the game was afoot”; our niece, Coralline, was so taken by all of this, all these characters of both history and fiction come to life, up close and personal, not images on a flickering screen or separated by a stage but as real as imagination and a suspension of reality can make them.
The Victorian Period of Dickens, Poe, Jules Verne, Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper. Of High Teas and fish and chips, of wealth and abject poverty. Of the medical discoveries of Lister and Pasteur and dealing with typhoid, small pox, cholera, and tuberculosis.
A period of changes that moved as fast in the 19th century as it did in the 20th and 21st.
Of Morality and Depravity.
And of some of the most classic authors of our times, and for a brief time we could be immersed in it but without the noxious smells or extreme disease and filth.
We stayed and stayed and stayed, slowly taking in all the shops, Coralline was wishing she could dress more like some of the children she saw, the three of us were doing well enough with our long skirts, crochet shawls and hair wrapped up in buns, but I could see the value of this fantasy so we bought bonnets to add to our costumes with a little Christmas flair of red berries and green ivy and red and green plaid ribbons.
Like Cinderella and her glass slipper we had to leave regretfully and tiredly, but late that night as I checked on Coralline to see that she was settled in to sleep I saw tucked into the frame of her dresser mirror the “formal calling cards” of Mark Twain, Buffalo Bill Cody, several Dickens characters, Phineas Fogg, all neatly displayed, her Victorian Bonnet carefully perched and covered with a light scarf to keep the dust off of it, her “Victorian Clothing” carefully draped over a chair to be hung up or washed later.
When I went down stairs to join my sister and Doyle for a night cap, I told them what I saw, my sister said we have found that which resonates to the child’s soul, a bit Goth, a bit Dickens, a bit Victorian but all child, no visions of sugar plumbs but the characters from the Victorian era.
And we could but smile at the thought.