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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - January 4, 2006

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. It has been a real laid back few weeks at "my" house and Ol' Henry enjoyed the quiet. One of the best days I had was when I pretended I was a visitor on a tour of Col. Ben's house. It was a sentimental tour of each room as Ol' Henry reminisced about the stories the old great grandpappies told about Col. Ben's house. Henry here was all alone in the house with no reason to worry about being stepped on or startling people while scurrying about and scampering up and down the stairs, in and out of closet and fireplaces, never failing to marvel at the beautifully restored home. "My" house has beautiful wallpaper, paint and furniture. It has beautiful pictures and draperies just like the Stephensons enjoyed. That was a very special day for Henry!


Keith's plan is to finish plastering the kitchen walls and when that job is done, he will lay the brick floor. Keith had a bit of a problem with his cement mixer, though. It's gone! Yep, disappeared from the premises even as Ol' Henry kept a watchful eye on things around here. It may be that someone borrowed Keith's mixer for a small job somewhere. Henry couldn't phone for help because a mouse doesn't know how to use a phone, ya know. Ol' Henry would be so happy if the borrower would please return the cement mixer when his project is complete. Keith does need that mixer to finish work on Col. Ben's house. Thanks from Ol' Henry.


The office used by RoxAnn, our director, and her assistant Erin has become a very cozy, comfortable spot for Henry. With a smile these two ladies happily go about their business. They know so much and do so much that Henry gets an education just by keeping near them. Henry was around when RoxAnn prepared an event schedule for 2006. Can't remember a lot of them because there are so many events and so many good ones! Henry does remember a Valentine Dinner will be served at Col. Ben's house and there will be a class to learn to make a rag rug like was in the Stephenson children's bedroom. Oh, and another cool event scheduled is a Mother-Daughter weekend. You can bring your daughter and together you will experience how the 1820s women cared for their skin, hair, clothing and much more. RoxAnn has lots to share with the women at this event!


Henry is interested in one that is kind of geared for the guys. Come enjoy and learn at an interactive presentation on the Battle of the Little Bighorn. To honor the 130th anniversary of Custer's Last Stand, historian Roger Gaston will discuss details of the infamous confrontation and also will have artifacts from the battle. How about that!


The Stephenson House website, www.stephensonhouse.com. will have a complete listing of the events very soon. Be sure and check it out!


Henry has learned that if you hang around RoxAnn you are going to learn lots! The other day she was talking about new years day, being that time of year. Henry learned that the Babylonians celebrated the new year in the spring 4000 years ago. This makes sense to this mouse, as spring is a time of rebirth, of planting new crops and of trees and shrubs blossoming. The Babylonians celebrated new years for eleven days and you can be sure that was some celebration! January 1 was chosen by the Roman Julius Caesar around 150 BC and it has remained new years day ever since. Celebration of the new year was considered a pagan custom and it is only in the last 400 years that Western nations have celebrated January 1 as a holiday.
Henry learned that Germany, France, England and others in that area are the Western countries. I 'm learning lots! Many traditions and customs for the celebration of the new year came from all of these countries. It was generally thought that a person could affect their luck for the coming year by what they ate or did on the first day of the year. As RoxAnn talked about all this, Ol' Henry got to wondering how the Stephensons celebrated the New Year and soon had some answers.


Here is one tradition that the Stephensons must have observed. Many people believe that anything in the shape of a ring is good luck because it "comes full circle," completing a year's cycle. For that reason the Dutch believe that eating donuts on new years day will bring good fortune. Lucy Swearingen Stephenson's great-great-great-great grandfather Gerrett Vanswearingen came to this county from Holland in 1657. Ol' Henry thinks they probably ate donuts on new years day! Another tradition that involves eating and good luck is the custom of eating black-eyed peas and ham or pork on new years day. Black-eyed peas are considered good luck to many and the hog, with its meat, is considered lucky because it is a symbol of prosperity. Ol' Henry just knows the Stephenson family enjoying black-eyed peas and pork for dinner and donuts for dessert on the first day of the new year! Many thought what you did on new years day also affected your luck for the coming year. Folks began to celebrate the first few minutes of a brand new year with family and friends. Henry here thinks that was the beginning of New Years Eve parties and now we know why we have them! And, get this, RoxAnn told Erin that sometimes these parties often lasted into the middle of the night!

Henry has one last tradition for you. The song "Auld Lang Syne" is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. The song was written by Robert Burns in the 1700s and was first published in 1796 after his death. It is an old Scotch tune and means simply "the good old days". Imagine the feelings togetherness when the Stephenson's gathered with their family and friends in the front parlor to welcome in the new year as they all joined in singing "Auld Lang Syne".


Hey, I think I heard some of The Paint Crew guys come in the back door. Sure will be good to see them and maybe Jane sent coffee cake with Sid!


See ya' later,
Henry

 


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