Christmas at Westville

Published 1:17 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2011

This weekend marked a milestone in our lives with our grandchildren. It was the first time that both Laura and Henry spent the weekend with us without any parents around. We decided to ride up to Lumpkin and check out Christmas at Westville.

This village from 1850 has grown since we took our young children many years ago. It actually had more of the feel of what life must have been like 160 years ago. Period actors strolled the streets and demonstrated various crafts of the time, like making candles and shoes.

Henry and Laura both looked inquisitively at the ladies in hoop skirts. “Why are they wearing a dress like that?” they asked. I am not sure I had a good answer for them.

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They ran up and down the streets with no cars or trucks to put them in danger, asking endless questions about everything in sight.

“Horsies,” Laura screamed when she saw the wagon being pulled by two old mules. Their names were Mazing and Grace. They were 17 years old and had been pulling that wagon around those streets for a generation.

They were incredibly patient with the children and didn’t mind a bit when Laura sat up on their back.

Father Christmas was in one of the buildings but is still a pretty imposing figure for them to just walk up to. They did, however, get up on the porch, peer through the windows and wave to the gentle Santa, who grinned and waved back.

Laura painted a Christmas picture for her parents while Henry preferred to throw rocks across the small creek. We had Christmas cookies and lemonade before heading back home.

Our thought was they would get tired and sleep on the way back home. It worked exactly the opposite as Mary Lou and I were exhausted and the kids were still wound up all the way home. The only nap taken was by Mary Lou.

Traveling is much easier with two small children these days. I finally got to try out the two DVR screens built into the back of the headrests in the front seat. They watched movies all the way home without so much as a whine or whimper.

By the time we arrived home they had completely gotten their second wind and were ready to play. The meal we planned went by the wayside and we ordered pizza and cheese sticks, a sure hit with almost anyone in our family.

That night, they struggled a bit in going to sleep in the same room. Henry came back in the den and crawled up in my lap. I turned off the television and we just sat in front of the fire. He was sound asleep in five minutes in the crook of my arm. I was asleep about two minutes after him.

Sometime later, Mary Lou woke me up and we moved him to his bed. Laura was finally asleep as well, in the same bed her mother slept in. We had made it through the first day!

They wanted eggs and grits for breakfast. Of course there was only one egg in the refrigerator so I was off to the store at 6:30 a.m. It really isn’t that hard to eat and get ready for church if you start that early. Three and a half hours should be enough time for anyone.

They played the pen-E-O, more commonly known as the piano. I don’t know if they will have any natural talent, but at least I have gotten them to quit banging on the keys.

Henry sat in his granny’s chair, which they called the throne. Actually, I might agree with them on that one. He was pretending to be the king and was singing out something that sounded like a decree of “no girls, forever”.

Shortly after lunch they were gone. We were tired and worn out, but we had so much fun. We will see them again during the holidays, but for just a short time we had them alone.

Whether it is Christmas in Westville or Christmas in Donalsonville, this will be a special time of the year for us this year. I hope it is the same for all of you.

Dan Ponder can be reached at