A friend of mine recently shared with me that while visiting the laundromat she had a moment of nostalgia regarding her mother, someone with whom there weren’t many pleasant moments to recall.
That made me realize that perhaps that is the reason I love the holidays so much. The holidays are a very nostalgic time for me. Some of the only good memories I have of my childhood were during the holidays.
Halloween was so much fun. Carving pumpkins, decorating with construction paper bats, pumpkins and witches and the huge scarecrow that took up residence on our front porch every year were traditions that I cherish. My mother, one year, made my sister and I each a full body suit costume, so we would be warm while trick or treating. My sister was a gray rabbit and I was a black mouse. Trick or treating always consisted of my sister and I holding our mother’s hands as we walked around the neighborhood together, stopping at the homes with porch lights on. Our neighborhood was always nicely decorated.
Thanksgiving was a family time. My grandmother would come to the house the night before and clean the turkey for my mother. There were years when our Uncle and Cousin came to have dinner with us. My Dad would be very animated and enjoyed the visit. After my parents divorced, we went with our mother to our Grandmother’s house (my grandfather had already passed) where we’d have dinner with our cousin and Uncle (our Aunt was vegetarian and didn’t participate). There was always laughter and good conversation.
Christmas was a time of elaborate decorating. One year I recall making sugar cookies that we iced and sealed and hung on the Christmas tree. The packages would always be beautifully wrapped and there would be golden foil garland strung around the home. We would cut out snowflakes from construction paper and decorate the kitchen cupboards with them. There were cookies baked, fudge made and visits with family. In later years, my mother tried to host family Christmas parties where we dressed up, made punch, put out quite a spread of goodies and exchanged presents with family members. We would drive around our town admiring the Christmas lights and decorations, singing Christmas carols in the car.
Yes, there were also bad moments on the holidays, but of all my childhood memories, the holidays stand out as primarily feeling good.
I’ve tried to recreate those good feelings as an adult, as a wife and mother, so that my family will also have good memories to cherish later in life. I’ve also tried to correct some of the mistakes my family made on the holidays, by trying to include everyone in our holidays, but I know that it’s not possible to fix the mistakes of people from the past by forcing people in the present to do something they aren’t capable or willing to do.
The holidays have been bitter sweet and continue to be opportunities for learning for me.
I try, very hard, to retrieve good feelings and positive memories from my childhood, rather than allowing the past to be an open wound.
So perhaps this is why I embrace, enthusiastically, the holidays.