I have been to Colonial Williamsburg several times...at least twice as a child, then at some point, Larry and I took our kids there. But seeing it through the eyes of our nine-year-old granddaughter might just be the best experience ever. Clare has had a love of the colonial period from reading her American Girl books, and we often talked about what it was like "back then." That was what prompted us to issue her an invitation for a weekend where she could experience colonial life. Of course she had to bring Felicity, the doll of that period - and Felicity came complete with her own wardrobe of daily changes! During the long, 9-hour drive, Clare amused herself listening to music she had on her iPod, watching a movie and just observing the changing scenery, all the while holding Felicity on her lap. It was too precious!
Upon arriving at the Woodlands, right on the property, we checked out our rooms. Although I had explained that we would have two adjoining rooms, I don't think Clare quite got the concept, but was delighted when she saw "how fancy her room was"! In truth it was a nice enough room, but she had her own television which she was quite thrilled with. She loved the complimentary soaps and shampoos, and relished the idea of taking them home to show Mommy. Best yet, she learned that someone made your bed every day. She definitely thought that was pretty neat.
When Larry had checked us in, he found out that we could get a reservation at King's Arm Tavern right on Duke of Glouster Street. So we immediately changed clothes and drove there. Now Colonial Williamsburg is very authentic, meaning they have no street lights, nor are the homes electrified, so the area at 6:30 pm is very dark, hardly conducive to seeing the town. But Clare was taking it all in...the street fires set to warm your hands, the candles in many windows, a few colonial townspeople walking about. Upon arrival at the restaurant, we were escorted to a lovely table by a fireplace where our young lady had Mr. Jefferson's Mac and Cheese. Our waiter was in colonial garb and very knowledgeable about the time and place. The weekend was off to a great start.
Our first stop on Friday was to see a short movie explaining what was happening back in 1774 to make Williamsburg so significant. Clare took it all in, but when we got to the Governor's Palace, Clare had mentally transported herself back to that time. You could just see it on her face! The guides we encountered at every stop were wonderful, explaining things as if we were there in December of '74. At this location, our guide acted as if he was allowing us to enter the palace while the family was out doing errands in preparation for the evening's ball. We had to be spirited from room to room lest the housekeeper see us. Clare loved the role playing! We even learned an appropriate bow so we would not be embarrassed at the ball!
Each of the venues we visited offered a wonderful view of life at the time. Dropping by the Milliner's shop, the woman explained to Clare how women changed the look of a dress or hat by adding buttons, new trim or feathers. At the Court House, which Clare asked to see several times before we got there, we took part in a trial of a woman accused of singing "loudly and disrespectfully" against the king. Since Larry was chosen to be part of the tribunal, Clare sat on the edge of her seat with anticipation. At the Apothecary we saw the herbs and spices that might be used to alleviate a headache. Another "fancy" dinner, this time at Christiana Campbell's Tavern was the culmination of the trip. Mrs. Campbell herself stopped by our table and was very sure that Clare must have been exhausted from her three-day trip from Atlanta!We did take a break from colonial life on Friday evening and headed over to see Christmas Town at nearby Busch Gardens. We saw lights and music as we visited the various countries. Clare was quite taken with the tri-colored pasta she ate in "San Marco Italy" where we ate after seeing a musical production. We also visited Ireland and saw another musical production there, and watched "oh Tannenbaum" change colors as music played in Germany.
I think I knew all along that Clare was enjoying herself, but when we finally arrived back home, she told Danny that they were going to play Williamsburg! Danny was not too sure this was a great idea until Clare told him he could be a militia man who was called up from his farm to fight against the King's men. That appealed to Danny! In the course of their play, I could hear her explaining so much of what she had seen and learned. It had all been worthwhile! But more importantly, we got a chance to spend some quality time with our delightful granddaughter, seeing places and learning things through her thoughtful questions to the presenters. The history teacher in me had really wanted to make this trip a reality; the grandmother in me is so happy we did it. Some wonderful memories were made.