Learn­ing about Christ­mas long ago

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News - Randy Palmer - Moose Jaw Ex­press

While some folks were out fin­ish­ing off their Christ­mas shop­ping or wind­ing up the last of their hol­i­day prepa­ra­tions, many oth­ers were tak­ing a mo­ment to re­mem­ber the past. It was all about rem­i­nisc­ing about the fun times of old and an­tic­i­pat­ing the new mem­o­ries to come. That’s where the West­ern De­vel­op­ment Mu­seum sought to of­fer a lit­tle more ‘tan­gi­ble’ ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing the past two week­ends, as they hosted their sec­ond an­nual Christ­mas Long Ago pre­sen­ta­tions. The event fea­tured a spe­cial ‘Christ­mas liv­ing room’ dis­play – com­plete with fire­place, tree, cozy car­pets and comfy chairs – set to look like a home in the early 1900s. WDM ed­u­ca­tion and pub­lic pro­gram di­rec­tor Karla Ras­mussen con­ducted the show, run­ning pa­trons through the wide va­ri­ety of ar­ti­facts on dis­play as well as pass­ing on tales of how things were in the old days.

“This is orig­i­nally based on a kin­der­garten pro­gram we used to have, where the class would come in, the teacher would have a script and would go through ev­ery­thing,” Ras­mussen said. “But I al­ways felt we could em­bel­lish it a bit more be­cause the kids were ask­ing a lot more ques­tions than was in the ba­sic script.” Things took off from there, as the WDM brought in boxes of old-fash­ioned toys that could ac­tu­ally be held and played with as well as a crafts pro­gram that fea­tured old­style ways of cre­at­ing Christ­mas fin­ery. The end re­sult has been im­pres­sive, as pa­trons both young and old have flocked to see the show since its in­cep­tion – from 100 stu­dents last year to over 400 this year, fol­lowed by pub­lic dates that were all but sold out. The pop­u­lar­ity has risen so much that the WDM added a show on Christ­mas Eve to add an ex­tra spe­cial touch to the pro­ceed­ings. In­ter­est­ingly enough, it isn’t just chil­dren and their par­ents who are tak­ing in the show; there have been plenty of adults and se­niors who have come out just to take in the ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence or ac­tu­ally rem­i­nisce of their own past Christ­mases. “It’s re­ally won­der­ful that way be­cause I think we all feel like kids at Christ­mas time and ev­ery­one can take some­thing away from it, whether it’s some­thing they learned or re­mem­ber­ing some­thing they used or were a part of or some­thing their friends talked about,” Ras­mussen said. One as­pect that makes Christ­mas Long Ago so pop­u­lar is the hands-on por­tion – in ad­di­tion to be­ing able to hold and ex­pe­ri­ence old toys and items from the old days, the afore­men­tioned toys are handed out at one point in the show, so ev­ery­one can have a try. That’s proven to be a hit with the kids who’ve never seen such things, as well as with the se­niors who ac­tu­ally played with sim­i­lar toys in the past. “Usu­ally when you’re at a mu­seum ev­ery­thing is so hands off, where this part of the col­lec­tion is meant to be touched as part of a phys­i­cal in­ter­ac­tion,” Ras­mussen said. “It’s re­ally great, it makes his­tory come alive.”

Young­sters gather in front of the fire­place to lis­ten to sto­ries of Christ­mas Long Ago.

Par­ents and chil­dren alike work on crafts af­ter the Christ­mas Long Ago pre­sen­ta­tion.

The gifts folks re­ceived in the early 1900s were far dif­fer­ent from what we re­ceive to­day...

Be­fore e-mails there were let­ters, and there were a lot of let­ters sent at Christ­mas time.

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