25 Years of Victorian Christmas
Thursday, December 10, 1987 was the first Victorian Christmas Celebration at The Settlers Inn. The event was conceived when Jeanne Genzlinger and Marcia Dunsmore were on a walk in Bingham Park and got to talking about our holiday traditions, childhood memories, and fantasies about Christmas.
Shortly thereafter Grant and Jeanne invited Marcia to join us to create a holiday celebration honoring the traditions of the Victorian Era. Our first invitation was mailed to our guests and members of the community. We invited you “to turn back the hands of time and return to an era of style and grace”. We were obsessively authentic creating the menu and found the White House cookbook to be a wealth of information.
We had consommé, bisque, Chincoteague oysters, French hens, pickled pears, mince tarts and plum pudding. The sugared plums were truly a vision.
Our focus at the time was to create a holiday event that encompassed all that we felt Christmas could be. Antiques from the turn of the century were borrowed from Peggy Murphy and Curt Reed as well as our grandmother’s attics. We polished silver, tea stained lace, decked the halls, trimmed the trees, hired the horseman, baked the gingerbread house, engaged the choir, dressed the staff in period attire, lit the candles and… magic was created!
Our fondest memories of the first years of Victorian Christmas were the involvement of our families. The children were young and all wanted to be a part of this scenario. Emily Dunsmore, age 5 along with her Grandmother, Wendy Reafler and Grant’s Mother, Muriel Genzlinger passed the hors d’oeuvres. Stuart Dunsmore, age 8, was the doorman and Justin Genzlinger, age 11, managed the coat room. Our daughters, Carrie and Janna, age 14 and 16 assisted the dining room servers. Uncle John’s doll house was brought out of the attic and Aunt Mary Lou became the official photographer.
The guests loved the event. Peter Rodgers said, “This is like a community Christmas party!
And so it continues for the twenty fifth year… We thank you, Dear Friends, for joining us for this special Settlers Inn tradition. Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year too!