While many of us are getting ready to celebrate Christmas 2012, the Kline Creek Farm living history museum in West Chicago is giving visitors a sense of what Christmas was like in the late 19th century.
Kline Creek volunteers are giving guiding tours every hour at the site's 1890s farmhouse, which is decorated for the holidays. The program is one part of the farm's efforts to keep DuPage County's history alive.
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"I like what they do here," said Sandy Carlson of Wheaton, who visited Kline Creek Farm on Sunday with her 7-year-old daughter, Jane, and planned to go on a farmhouse tour. "There's something particularly nice about taking a moment this time of year to think about the past."
The farmhouse, like the rest of Kline Creek Farm, has been preserved to remain as close as possible to what it would have looked like roughly 120 years ago. During one of Sunday's tours, visitors walked into a kitchen that was filled with heat from the wood-burning stove and the sound of butter being churned by hand -- a task that takes about 40 minutes to complete.
The tour then proceeded into the dining room, where a table was set for eight. Oyster trays sat on each plate.
"Oysters were a prized part of the Christmas meal," Kline Creek Farm volunteer Janice Edel said. "They would have to be shipped in."
A Christmas tree stood in the sitting room, decorated with candles instead of lights. Electricity had yet to reach many farms back then, Edel said. A few gifts sat underneath the tree, including what appeared to be a set of wood blocks and a vintage pair of ice skates.
"Many of the decorations you see are similar to what we use today," Edel said.
The Christmas farmhouse tours will be offered Thursday through Monday until Jan. 7. (There will be no tours Monday, Dec. 24.) For information, go to dupageforest.com.