Sunday, January 27, 2013

Southern Belles

In our fancy dresses near the "soldier's camp."

            When a friend first brought up the idea of going to the civil war re-enactment that takes place near us every January, I loved the idea.   First of all, the event is held at the Boy Scout campgrounds and my son would be camping there and attending the event with his troop.  Second of all, what home schooling mother would pass up the opportunity to give her kids a front row seat to watch history come alive before them?  

            Then, my friend asked if I would be interested in dressing up for the event.  She had two civil war era dresses, both hand-made by her, both hanging in her closet just waiting to be worn.  At my age there are not a lot of opportunities to play dress up and the dresses were both so beautiful- with their big full skirts and their poofy long sleeves.  Why not?  I thought.  So on the morning of the “Raid”, as it is known, with my daughter’s help, I buttoned myself into a gorgeous historic dress, tied an authentic old fashioned sunbonnet on my head, pulled a pair of white gloves on my hands and then looked in the mirror to see what I’d look like as a real southern belle.  

It is amazing how different clothes can make you feel like a different person.  No wonder my girls have always loved playing dress up!  They actually still love dress up.  In fact, they wore their own historic costumes to the Raid.  We were stopped by strangers and photographed quite a few times, even though we were surely not the fanciest girls there.  

Watching the battle on a beautiful January afternoon.
What fun we all had pretending to go back in history.  And it really was educational, for my kids and for me, to watch the North and the South battle it out with their cannons and their guns.  The Union boys in their spiffy blue uniforms won the battle and though I looked the part of a southern girl, I am, at heart, a “yankee” (having been born in Pennsylvania) so I was glad the “good guys” won!

As a sort of side note to our day of living history- the girls and I had a talk on the way home about how dressing like a lady and acting like a real lady encourages men to treat us as ladies.  We talked about how important it is to be authentically feminine and to be graceful and respectable as the Southern Belles of old always were.  The girls shared that, like me, they did feel different in their fancy clothes and I think they really understood that it is a gift and a responsibility to be a woman.  

After our talk, we stopped to pick up some pizza to take home for dinner.  At the pizza place, there was a girl next to us with bright purple hair.  She was covered in tattoos and piercings (one in her nose reminded us of a ring in the nose of a bull).  We couldn’t help but notice the contrast of her fashion choices with all the beautiful women we had just seen at the civil war re-enactment.  

“Do you think that girl is ever treated as a real lady?”  I asked once we were back in our car.  The girls did not have to think too long about that one….   We did pray that God would bless that young lady (and I secretly prayed that my girls would remember our conversation and the real-life lesson in femininity for a looooong time.)

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