My husband and I went to Cracker Christmas in Christmas, Florida, a few weekends ago. To my delight, I was able to speak with men and women who were displaying goods from the Civil War era. One man had a tent and replica uniforms of the Confederate soldiers as well as books and a wooden nickel. He was dressed in gray wool pants, and it was too hot for him to wear the coat. I noticed the coat was lined with the material of old-timey mattresses.
The ladies of the antebellum period were dressed in their work dresses for a day of plantation duties. They were most informative of the food available during the time, Eagle brand canned milk, hardtack crackers, and certain types of old-fashioned candy. With Christmas drawing near, I found it interesting when one lady picked up a cornhusk doll and explained that it was the type of dolls most girls would receive for Christmas, and ragdolls were considered a luxury since the rags were needed for wounded soldiers.
I ended up buying a cornhusk doll and a ragdoll. She showed me sandalwood fans, and they smelled so good. During Christmas, moms and dads couldn't just rush out to the local shopping center or mall and buy the dream doll for their little girl. They had to depend on homemade gifts, and any little girl who received a ragdoll was considered lucky.
Times have changed. Today's children would shun homemade gifts because they're all about the latest piece of technology. I truly enjoyed stepping back in time and the opportunity to complete some research for my newly-released novel River Oaks Plantation.
If any of you live in Florida, be sure to visit Cracker Christmas in Christmas, Florida, next year and step back into another time period. Women bake cornbread in iron skillets around open camp fires, and you can buy it freshly cooked. Booths of arts and crafts and delicious food make it worthwhile. I find something of interest every year and no matter how cold it is, we always get fresh homemade ice cream. This year I had strawberry with real strawberries, and it's like nothing you can buy in a store.
Just think about what Christmas was like for children during the Civil War era when simple homemade gifts were good enough, during a time of war and rations when children were thankful for what they received. Seeing the ragdoll a little girl would've received for Christmas back then made me realize that the one I received for my ragdoll Christmas so many years later, was exceptional, but it wasn't homemade. I bought my own homemade ragdoll for Christmas this year.