Old-fashioned Christmas

Our family has decided again this year to abstain from gift giving and just concentrate on being together.  My two sisters will visit from Toronto, one of them complete with partner and kidlets, and it will be nice to see them although I know our time will be short.  The only exception will be gifts for the kids, who are always fun to shop for but funner still to see them open their presents and enjoy the food, laughter and festivities.

Just the thought of not having to brave the malls, big box stores or busy main roads has me feeling a bit more relaxed.   That being said, the shops I’ll visit will all be local, within walking distance so it will be a civilized endeavour!   This is my neighbourhood.

Although I’m not old enough to remember these old cars, this corner of Bank Street and Second Avenue was three blocks from where I grew up and the corner store was a groceteria owned by the Badali Brothers which I remember clearly from my youth.  For more information on the history of the Glebe, John Leaning has written the definitive record; read it here.

This nostalgia for times gone by had me finding a program called Victorian Farm Christmas on TV Ontario the other day.  This is a very well done series that follows three British historians as they take on specific working class roles on an English country estate that time has forgotten (Acton Scott Estate).  The series follows them through a Victorian rural farming year and ends with them enjoying a Christmas feast at the grand home of their boss, the landowner Mr. Acton Scott.

The Victorian Farm series was produced by Lion Television and saw a team of three historians, Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn and Ruth Goodman,  recreate rural life as it might have been in 1885.  The  series was filmed through four seasons in 2007 and 2008 and first broadcast early the following year accompanied by a best selling book. With viewing figures of more than six million  for each episode, the first series of Victorian Farm proved enormously popular. 

To build on this success, BBC2 commissioned a three part series, Victorian Christmas, first on air in December 2009.  This involved Ruth, Alex and Peter returning to the estate during 2009 to tackle an array of new farming tasks and discover how the Victorians created the celebration of Christmas as we know it today.  

You can watch several episodes of Victoria Farm Christmas on the TVO website here or watch the TV Ontario schedule for a re-run of this beautifully produced series (it originally aired December 11th).

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