One week shy of her 8th birthday, my girl had an experience neither of us was prepared for… Her very first invitation to dance by a… boy!
Okay, so first comes the confession. My husband is enthralled by the history of the American Civil War. While doing some genealogy research, he discovered that his great, great uncle was captured at Cedar Creek and taken to a Confederate Prison in North Carolina, where he died just before the war ended. Intrigued, my husband became “eat up with it”, as I call it, devouring tomes of information, spending hours on the Internet and visiting live re-enactments… Something I NEVER in a million years would have thought would interest him. Well, fast forward a year and he’s not only interested, we’re members! Yes. We. Our family is now an active part of the 97th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.
It’s fascinating and turns out it’s fun for the whole family. To watch my husband get excited about something and share that passion with my children, is truly heart-warming. I admit, it may seem odd to relish a war or want to re-enact a gruesome battle, but I think it’s much more than that. It’s history. It’s learning about the clothes, the food, the letter-writing (a lost art), the way people in the 19th century lived without electricity, TV or fast food. To discover how children worked and learned and what was expected of them from a tender age. To learn how our ancestors entertained themselves. We got a first-hand experience at the Blue & Gray Cotillion, an annual event hosted by the 97th, open to all re-enactors in the area.
The music was genuine. The decor perfectly period and to see all the ladies in their 19th Century hoops and gloves… It was like walking on-set at the filming of Gone with the Wind.
Of course, the kids were ready to go home within 20 minutes of our arrival, in fact my girl had just complained for the 103rd time that she was sleepy and ready to go. That’s when this dashing young man of maybe 12, approached and asked my girl to dance.
To see her accept his invitation and walk hand-in-hand onto the dance floor. Neither making eye contact with the other. Swaying gently, not really dancing per se. My husband and I were nearly tearful, as our hearts swelled watching our baby – our teeny, tiny girl – have this experience. When the music ended, the boy gracefully bowed to her and took his leave. She ran over to me, hands flapping excitedly, “Did you see me? Did you see me, Mama?!” Priceless, I tell you. Priceless.
We enjoyed the refreshments and watching the others perform the Virginia Reel, then it was time for the raffle drawing. My girl WON! She actually won the Children’s Basket (chock full of sugary goodies and games and such). She was thrilled and bravely walked all the way across the floor to the stage to have her ticket number verified. I was so proud.
Before we left, while we were saying our good-byes to some friends, another young man asked my girl to dance. She was like a deer in the headlights, but again, she accepted and off they went. This young Rebel, without warning, even tried to twirl my girl! It was a sight to behold. One I will never forget. (Nor will she.)
Where else, besides church, can a family of four have such a wholesome time for $25?
Sometimes we have to step outside the box and try something new. I’ll share more with you as the Civil War’s sesquicentennial continues… Now, I must go and wash my corset and petticoats.