Things That Happened This Week

My Childhood Brush With Historical Re-enactment Fame

This post is sponsored by Colonial Williamsburg.

My dad was a history buff, which is such a Dad Thing, isn't it? He especially loved American history, so my family took lots of trips to battlegrounds and historical sites, and toured just about any oldish hollowed-out structure that existed Way Back When and managed to survive the great Suburban Strip Mall Onslaught of 1983. I went trick-or-treating as a pilgrim for like, three years straight in preschool.

We took two trips to Colonial Williamsburg — one when I was about Ezra's age, and another when I was a few years older. In my head, the trips have long since blended together. I remember the costumes and the blacksmith's shop, the hoops and the sticks, and being generally delighted that you could talk to everybody and watch them do things, like animatronic museum figures brought to life. Because even at four years old, I guess, I was more used to being entertained by robots than actual human beings. 

At some point, I was "chosen" to march in some...thing? A parade of some kind? And I was given a flag to carry. I don't remember being asked, but according to my mother I reacted as if God Himself had touched down on earth, handed me a flag and told me that the future of humanity depended upon me being awesome at marching. 

Apparently I whispered a very shy, quiet "yes" to the volunteer scout. But my face was straight-up screaming CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. I WILL MARCH THE HELL OUT OF THIS. I WILL BE AWESOME.

I do remember marching. I remember feeling rather famous and special. I remember feeling completely awesome.

My mom mostly remembers the fact that I refused — R-E-F-U-S-E-D — to smile. At all, not even a little bit. I also refused to look at her or my dad or the camera, but stubbornly kept my eyes fixed directly on the ground a few feet in front of me. I looked positively miserable and probably a little bit bratty.

But of course I wasn't. That was just me TAKING THINGS VERY SERIOUSLY. My duties as a flag-carrying crowdsourced child-tourist volunteer were VERY SERIOUS TO ME. Did the real and actual colonial children smile as they marched to save the future of humanity?

I...don't know. I'm not sure they covered that on the tour.

Here is where I wish to God I had a photo to scan and include — a photo of me and my miserable sourpuss face, holding a flag and probably wearing bright pink shorts and an historically inaccurate Minnie Mouse t-shirt (or maybe I got dressed up? curse my hazy brain!), marching and TAKING THINGS SO VERY VERY SERIOUSLY. 

But we have no photos of our Colonial Williamsburg vacations. None. On our first trip, the camera malfunctioned and overexposed the film. My mom can't remember what happened to the photos from our second trip — the film got lost or left behind? she thinks? — but for some reason our modern-day cameras were cursed both times for violating the historical immersion experience and I have no photos. 

We're taking the boys there in two weeks. It will be my first time back since going as a kid, and my first time taking my kids somewhere that I specifically went as a kid. I will be taking a digital SLR with two batteries and multiple memory cards. I may have already packed it and obsessively checked the bag several times just to be sure. I will have my phone, Jason will have his, and I've told Noah he can carry one of our old phones and use it as a camera if he wants.

In other words, THERE WILL BE PHOTOS.

And I promise to smile in some of them. 

This post was brought to you by Colonial Williamsburg. Book your stay at




My parents took us to so many historical re-enactment places, and I LOVE them.


Ooh, I'm going in June for a week with history buff inlaws and two kids who are the age of your two oldest. I feel like they'll be forced into activities that are age inappropriate so I would love, love, LOVE it if you would post details of your trip. And any resources you are using to plan. A cursory search hasn't turned up anything that's focused on 3-7 year olds. Have a great time!


Re-enact the re-enactment! Recreate the photo while you are there! Your mom will love it!


Do you need recommendations on what to do here in my town? Do ya do ya do ya? :)


Yay! I live there! So awesome that you're coming!


(I feel like a celebrity is coming to my town. Seriously. Ok, I'll stop now.)


I have three words for you and they are Wythe Candy Store (though we always called it Honeydukes.) I used to work for a civic education non-profit that took kids to Williamsburg and it was always the highlight. And I mean for us instructors, but the kids liked it a whole lot too.

not supergirl

Cool! I've never been there, but my husband has. When we learned we'd be heading east for a wedding in June, we put that on the schedule. I look at the website, and I'm overwhelmed by how much there is to see and do. I don't think we can spend too many days (so much else to do when we're in the area, also the wedding). I look forward to hearing about the highlights. I have two girls, 12 and 9 years old, and they eat that stuff up. I think it's going to be a great trip. :)


Ooh! My husband and I are going in May - we bought a condo at an auction and will book flights today. I'm so excited. We're leaving the children (same ages as Ezra and Ike) at home so I can go full history nerd on the trip. And also enjoy the hot tub.


Haaaa, I was the same way as a child -- THE SAME WAY! One year I dressed up as Princess Jasmine for Halloween, and I took it VERY SERIOUSLY. I WAS Princess Jasmine, y'all. I marched in our school's Halloween parade with what I imagined to be a very regal face, with my left hand stretched out beside me in what I imagined to be a very regal position. It was like if someone were going to kiss your hand, I guess? I don't know, but I was my mind. In the video footage, I looked disinterested and slightly angry and also like I maybe had a broken wrist and needed some medical attention. Happy Halloween, classmates!


I look forward to reading about your time - we love Colonial Williamsburg.

I am not one to generally seek out amusement parks, but if you were on the fence about it, Busch Gardens is actually pretty enjoyable. There are plenty of rides to satisfy the ages/sizes of all your children AND it's owned by a brewery, so reasonably decent beer is pervasive throughout the park.


I hope you write a recap! I'm wondering if my kids are old enough to enjoy Williamsburg -- 3 and 5.


I live about 20mins from there. I've been many times. I still get giddythrilled when my husband takes me (otherwise known as OMGWOMANSHUTITANDIWILLTAKEYOU). I REALLY want to go dressed in costume, but hubby draws the line at that. I even promised him a tricorne hat - but Nooooooo. Something about being adults or such nonsense. Lame.


Years ago, we visited Williamsburg. It has gone down in family history as the site of my younger son's one and only truly epic tantrum. At the time, admission was a photo badge, sort of like a work badge, but younger kids, who got in free, didn't get one. Instead they got a plain paper one. You can see where this is going, right?

We got a few yards into the site, and he refused to take one more step, sobbing great big huge gulping broken-hearted sobs. Cue me taking him back into the visitor's center and trying to convince someone there to let me pay for a badge ticket for him. The man kept saying, "but he doesn't need one; he gets in free!" Have these people never met a youngest child??

I still have his in my jewelry drawer and every so often we take it out and laugh. It was worth every penny I paid for it. Poor baby!


We took our kids there when they were younger. The most fascinating thing was the blacksmith who made nails. It was so awesome. We could've stood there all day watching him make those nails.


The fact that you can book your stay at Colonial Williamsburg online is strangely hilarious to me.


I was just there! I have proof:

It was a work trip, and my entire expense account was spent at the Dog Street Pub and Huzzah! Huzzah was the hotel bar and we shut that shit down every night. Cuz they close at like 10.

Have a great time, I hadn't been there since my 7th grade living history trip. Way cool.


Oh man Williamsburg! I used to live about an hour away from there.

A few things to know about Williamsburg

- You must visit the Cheese Shop, they make the best sandwiches! And Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que makes killer bbq

- Colonial Williamsburg is very cool but also check out Busch Gardens too. It's one of the nicest amusement parks I've ever been to and there's plenty of kid rides


I can honestly say that trip to CW changed my life. When I was in 6th grade, I was failing social studies (stupid "current events" assignments - blech!!) when my family took a trip to Williamsburg. We did all the stuff like visiting the milliner's shop and seeing the Capitol building. But we also took a tour with a first-person interpreter, a young lady about town. I stood not more than two feet from her the entire time. Upon conclusion of that tour, I decided I would be going to the College of William and Mary, studying history and getting a job working at CW as a first-person interpreter. Fast forward two years and I graduated at the top of my 8th grade class and got a full scholarship to high school. Didn't make it W&M but that's ok, I met my husband in the college we both did attend.

My family still displays CW miniature houses at Christmas every year, and my husband and I even wen there on our honeymoon. I can't wait to take my daughter! I hope you have a fabulous time, have a gingerbread cake/cookie and a lemonade from the Bakehouse for me!


Hmmm I think I might have a photo or two...Not of the parade marching, that must of been after I was too cool to do family vacations and get away with it.


Yay! I have been wondering what a trip would entail with the tiny humans, and you shall be my test subject, MwaaHaaHaa!!Can't wait :)


Since we live in Chesapeake, and my husband is in the military, we go to Williamsburg every Veteran's Day weekend (free for military). My daughter (age 4) was also born on Veteran's Day (if you plan carefully, you will NEVER have to work on your birthday. You're welcome!). She LOVES it. She loves her "pirate" hat and her "little red riding hood" doll. You will have so much fun and I can't wait to see pictures.


Do you think the Corset Story ad is because of the post on Colonial Williamsburg - or SEO knows I need to work on my abs?


My Dad is a woodworker and worked at the Anthony Hay shop during the time that I'm guessing you visited as a child (early 80s?). I will have to tell him that you thought of them as animatronic museum figures brought to life. He'll laugh.

Don't miss Pierce's, like somebody else already said!


Best sponsor ever! I love Colonial Williamsburg. In my salad days (summer of '97, to be precise) I was doing research for a travel guide for day trips from D.C. I saw so much historic garb that summer I just came to expect it. So when I was in Richmond and I saw a bunch of people milling around in Civil War-era costumes I thought nothing of it. But there suddenly was Rob Morrow of Northern Exposure fame looking pissy in a director's chair! He was playing John Wilkes Booth in a TV movie.


I second the recommendation for The Cheese Shop...the bread ends and House Dressing will change your life.


Growing up on Long Island, we had the Old Bethpage Village Restoration, which I think I went to for field trips about 10 times in elementary school. It was similar to Colonial Williamsburg, which is why my dad skipped that and took us straight to Monticello.

It wasn't until my honeymoon that I got to Colonial Williamsburg and realized that while the nearby place is really cool, Williamsburg is sooo much cooler!

We're hoping to do a mini family reunion (my sister's family and mine) up on Skyline Drive this summer. That's only a little drive away and my kids have not been. See the ideas you're brewing?


Um..yeah...I live 20 minutes from there and I suggest Busch Gardens instead:-)


I grew up in Williamsburg. I highly recommend getting lunch at the Cheese Shop (there's a wine bar there too). Definitely the best sandwiches in town. Make sure you get the special sauce on it too...or on the side at the very least.

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