It seems strange to have an entire month focused on The Victorian Christmas, but is it? The reason we picked this theme was that it focused on tying together common threads such as the linkage between our past, present, and future as well as our love of literature and nostalgia for bygone eras of carolers and snow. There is something charming about the quintessential “Christmas” that we are using on this blog as the blanket word for the whole winter month festivities that are jammed into the month of December. As much as the dangers of nostalgia present, there is something special about the particular “Dickens” era that we are somewhat threading through our blog this month. Mostly, the inspiration came because of my personal attendance at The Dickens Fair in California. This amazing fair is simply the best piece of restorative Victorian period art that I have ever seen. They create a landscape of a typical village inspired by those of the past, surrounded by shops, a press shop, bookmakers, pewter and bone work, candles, of course, bonnets and hats, ladies garments, and men’s attire, garments for children and more. The food throughout the fair is a true culinary reflection of what would have been popular at the time, with some modern additions. There are many pies to be had, and I must say that the curd shop is a must for those that love old school English curd. This trip through Victorian life is enhanced by actors in costume portraying characters ripped from Dicken’s Oliver Twist and Scrooge playing out in the streets. Lewis Carrol is also honored with life-sized Alice and crew who run around causing mischief and tea parties throughout the fair.
The reflection of this time is one in which life, light, music, food are woven through colors that are bright and merry but also somewhat dark and sooty. There is an element of mud on the boots as it were, the slight sootiness of the city is brought in through darkened hallways and corners in which ladies of good character should not dare walk alone. They do an amazing job bringing the darkness in and bridging that edge of reality with a harsh cold truth, that not all of Dickens was fantastical. We would like to think of this time of year as nothing but wonder and happiness and light and such….but there is always this creature sitting there….and it reminds us of a darker element that is often not acknowledged.
That is what we will attempt to do this month, we will attempt to shine a flashlight on that creature, expose it, confront it and embrace it, for what wonders and delights of the world are any good without seeing the other side of things, without acknowledging the death that is around us, without acknowledging that sometimes this season brings out the worst of us, and sometimes it reminds us not of what we have but we have lost, that is why we have decided on this theme, because sometimes it is good to reflect on the past, and recall it, and embrace it.