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Don't Get Plucked During the Holidays

BandMost of us have expectations for the holidays including: family traditions, church activities, food, sports and a variety of other activities. For some, the holidays can be a nightmare - the Bermuda Triangle!

My holidays growing up were basically decent, and mostly comprised of good memories. My mother had some very enjoyable traditions that made Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years a time of expectation and even joy.

I admit it, as I have grown older, holidays have lost their luster.

I have an old friend from Junior High who posted a status on Facebook. It was sad because, after 50+ years of celebrating life at the old family homestead, it is no more. I remember my own feelings as my childhood home was sold, and no longer the possession of my parents. There is something barely describable that is lost - the nostalgia, the memories - well, if they were good ones. That was home.

I am sure most of you don't care about my darn holidays; you have your own to worry about. However; his post made me think about why the holidays have grown a little dull.

As a kid, the magic of special treats, seasonal decorations, presents, visiting friends and neighbors, it was very exciting. We even put on a Thanksgiving Concert (see above) at about 6 AM one year - my folks tried very hard to be excited at such an early hour. They worked hard to make Thanksgiving - all the holidays for that matter - a special time.

Thanksgiving started off with the Macy's day parade on the years we had a TV, and weren't performing. Mom and Dad made cranberry-walnut-apple stuffing, and seasoned a 25 pound turkey; making sure there was something left over for sandwiches to get us through the long weekend. "In at seven, out at two thirty," my mother would say; baster in hand.

The table was set with candles. Mom set about whipping up candied sweet potatoes, mashing spuds, boiling peas, simmering creamed onions, making gravy, and putting ripe olives, celery, and carrot sticks in china hor devour plates. She made the pies in advance: one apple, one cherry, one pumpkin and one minced meat, all ready for desert. My brother made real whipped cream, I polished the silverware, my sister set the table; everyone else seemed to have a place in the preparations.

At 3 o'clock Dad carved up the turkey with a "cheesy" 70's electric knife as we sat down. Hell, we even said grace on that day, and then pushed the creamed onions in the direction of someone that would actually eat them. The house was filled with an unusual warmth back in those days, it was the holiday spirit.

Each holiday had its own traditions in my house. Christmas featured hot chocolate and fruit cake while we opened stocking gifts in front of the fireplace (probably at 5 am) each one of us taking turns. Then there was a special breakfast before going onto the big presents under the tree. It lasted hours. And damn it I didn't ask Santa for any clothes and still can't figure out why there were so many! I even wrote the fat man a letter telling him don't bother, just the BB gun and the Matchbox cars, thanks.

New Years was a big deal too. We had all kinds of finger foods, cheese and crackers, dips, miniature rye and pumpernickel bread, a cheese-ball, chocolates - and my favorite, shrimp. We often spent time with the neighbors drinking, playing Twister and then walking home in the snow.

My mother put a lot of effort into tradition. Even as a young adult, she kept her traditions until she moved to the Midwest in the late 80's. They consisted of yearly rituals from the one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments to the "gelt" (gold foil wrapped coins) in the stockings with walnuts, candy canes and oranges.

Since the time we lived on Old Turnpike Road, both Mom and Dad have both passed away. But it was them that showed me what tradition was made of, doing the same thing over and over each year so that we could look forward to something special. As a Christian, I have also enjoyed going to services for each holiday during the Bermuda Triangle - but something is missing. And this year I seem to have put my finger on it, it's tradition. The past 10 years or so, my older kids have grown up and want to be other places, we've alternated holidays with the in-laws, but not had our own traditions. With an 8-year-old, jobs, commuting and all the rest, we are lucky to cook a turkey, get a tree up, and we haven't once stayed up once to ring in the New Year.

This past few years we've had an open house the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve at the in-laws, and Christmas morning will now be here at home. We haven't been as ambitious about decorating as my Mom, and there are no handcrafted felt stockings; edges cut with pinking shears, adorned with reindeer, snowmen and sequins, but we have something to look forward too. Lots to be grateful for, and now we say grace every night.

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16 comments:

76wendyful wrote 122 months ago:
Thanks. Made me think a lot about my time as a child with some of those same traditions.
fitzie63 wrote 122 months ago:
Turkey breast (white meat is lower fat). Sugar free 'n fat free pumpkin custard instead of pie. Homemade cranberry-orange zest sugar free sauce. Boiled 'n mashed sweet potatoes (NOT yams) with orange zest & piped into orange half-shells (they don't need sugar) then baked in the oven. Green salad. Live it up without the "guilt".

Great blog (again) :)
vger11 wrote 122 months ago:
grew up a military brat myself and after my childhood home burned down, we've pulled things back to a much simpler holiday season. not sad, just peaceful. great read
SugarNtheRaw wrote 122 months ago:
Wow, sounds like the Holiday season I have only dreamed of. Well, no better time to make your own traditions than now, I reckon!
linabickel wrote 122 months ago:
Love that you say grace every night now! That's a great tradition in my opinion (Deut. 4:9). Bless you for sharing this post, loved it.
scapez wrote 122 months ago:
The holidays can be an emotional time for me, and I too miss those 'old time' traditions (complete with cheesy 70's electric knife). Loved reading your post today.
BeautifulArtemis wrote 122 months ago:
My parents sold their home that I was raised in birth in. Its just not the same in their new home thou they try to keep to the traditions...
CurlyVonda wrote 122 months ago:
Loved the blog....as always! Someone gave the hubby and I an electric knife for a wedding gift 21 years ago and we love it...only used on the holidays.
Hoppymom wrote 122 months ago:
What a poignant message! I have found that as our children left home the traditions have been kind of pared down too. I know when my kids were little and I worked running a child care in our home I spent hours making the holidays fun and special. Of course, they were all wide-eyed and wondering at that age. But later I became an outside-the-home working mom who was going to grad school and it was just too much. The kids are now all adults and jaded and busy. They no longer want to go cut down a tree but they expect it to be there by magic and they don''t want a small one when we have always had an 11 foot one. They also don't want to help decorate it. Thankfully, they do like to bake and cook so they will help there. At this point the in-laws get my son and his family on Christmas Eve and my family all has Christmas Day together, as work schedules permit. I am not looking forward to the years when my other children marry and move away or need to be with in-laws at Christmas. May yours be blessed with joyful memories.
kellicruz1978 wrote 122 months ago:
Good blog! Made me think of all the hard work my own mom put into the Holidays. She would slave away for 2 days preparing the foood we wolfed down in minutes.
I have 3 kids, and I don't think I have put enough emphasis on "tradition". The only true Thanksgiving tradition I have is using this stupid turkey platter I got about 8 years ago for $2 at Mervyn's.
I think this year, we are going to start some new traditions in our family.
Strive2BLean wrote 122 months ago:
Be grateful that you have good memories of the holidays. Not everyone does. I always dreaded the holidays growing up because of the turmoil that came along with it for whatever reason. I keep traditions now with a family of my own.
autumnridge wrote 122 months ago:
I enjoyed the memories you shared. It seems once the kids are grown and have another famiy, our traditions are no longer so important. We nearly spent Christmas alone last year! I have decided to no longer fret over it. If they're too busy for me, I can find some widows and widowers who would enjoy a family type day. Family compositions have changed so much with divorces, remarriages, live-ins, etc. that what was tradition to our generation is dissapearing.
SmartFunGorgeous wrote 122 months ago:
This is probably one of my favorite blogs you've written. Love.
odditblue wrote 122 months ago:
ya know... I have a totally different attitude to my food lately. Even tonight. Hubs had a party at his chef school. Food everywhere. I ate only as much as I liked, and threw the rest away. No more guilt. I eat for myself now, not the garbage disposal of the whole family. Glad things change. Feeling more confident in myself as I journey on here. Great place to find helpful friends who don't try to sabotage me with dessert. Much love man. Keep it up. Great words. Carry on!
ECA67 wrote 122 months ago:
loved the picture. Lol. I'm always happy to hear there are still people who thank God and give Him glory !
ccarpe wrote 122 months ago:
Two words....simply beautiful

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