Arlington House, the Lee-Custis residence General Robert E. Lee left behind when he agreed to lead the Confederate Army, once again resonated with the sounds of Christmas, with handbell ringing on Saturday, Dec. 12, and Yorktown’s Chamber Choir on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 13, from 2-4 p.m.
The bell ringers attracted visitors from all over the cemetery, who were there to lay wreaths on each grave, and heard the sound of the bells coming from the house on the hill.
Catherine Dowling, a volunteer at the house, said the music and the wreaths, indications that those who gave their lives for the country were not forgotten, moved some to tears.
On Sunday, the Yorktown Chamber Choir arrived in the morning. Dowling was on the scene, helping to dress the girls, whose outfits included hoop skirts, lace collars, many buttons, petticoats, and ribbons. Christmas is celebrated at Arlington House as authentically as possible, said one guide, because Robert E. Lee’s military career offered him a long winter break, when he was able to return home to spend time with his seven children. Lee was a warm and fun-loving father, and he made sure the season was bright. The house was abuzz with Christmas events, then as now.