Holidays aren’t what they used to be for me. I wonder if this is the age I am or the age I live in. I am sure both are factors. Once the new school year had begun in the long ago years, the autumn popped with one fun thing after another. Remember room parties? Those times when designated room mothers brought in cupcakes and punch…games were played…why even the teacher let her hair down for whatever current holiday…or maybe it was the thoughts of extra days at home with her own family that made her happy.
I used to look forward to Halloween. It was a little scary, but I loved the jack-o-lanterns and candy corn. Candy was not an everyday occurrence at my house, so a bag of Halloween candy would last me until at least Thanksgiving because I doled it out a piece at a time to myself each evening after supper. Then when I had children of my own, it was fun to dress them up, see friends, to experience the celebrations again through their own excitement. But over the years, the kids that began to show up at our door got rougher, bigger, and more demanding. Damage in the neighborhood to people’s pumpkins wasn’t expensive damage, but it did show a disregard for property of others. For years we put up a scarecrow named Jazzboe. He was fun; he was special. He wore Granddad Lambeth’s overalls, a neighbor who lived to be 99 or so. One evening he was pulled up out of our yard and gone forever.
Halloween never seemed the same after that, and I found myself celebrating autumn instead of Halloween with simple uncarved pumpkins and colorful mums. They were a natural to move us into Thanksgiving anyway. Somewhere along the way, you had to block out red and green images, to turn off your ears to Christmas carols to enjoy Thanksgiving though. I look for someday the end of year holidays to be renamed Thanksmas or Chrisgiving or some such nonsense.
My Thanksgivings were almost always hunting days and a big dinner at the paternal grandparents down the block. But occasionally, we made the trip to pick up the maternal grandparents and head across state lines to my mother’s people. Then the day was giant dinners followed by football, sometimes on TV and sometimes in an Oklahoma stadium. As I got older, I liked this because the kids were let go after lunch. A cousin near my age and I liked to take walks in downtown Claremore where you might run into boys who attended the military school. Even at fourteen, gals like uniforms! The boys were always so polite and well-groomed and this was the 60’s.
One year we walked to an afternoon movie, and this included all the younger kids due to our parents’ insistence. Oh, Kay and I were dressed in our pastel stretch pants, the stirrups (remember those?) tucked into our loafers. Our upper bodies were as poufy as our hairdos due to the huge mohair sweaters we were wearing. As luck would have it, some guys DID notice us during the movie. Easing into closer seats, they began to talk to us. That is when the younger bunch lost interest in the movie, began throwing ice and popcorn our way, and warned us, “I’m telling mom!” We were thrilled by the boys’ attention and humiliated by our siblings’ bothersome reactions. But it was a holiday to remember!
So I am thankful to have memories from a simpler time to look back on. This year there are blue memories lurking among the reminiscences, but I am not going to let them intrude. Our holiday will be smaller and lived adult-like with cooking and cleaning. Black Friday, the economy, and destruction of great men who let power destroy them will be topics discussed. But somewhere between canned cranberry sauce and store bought stuffing, I will smile remembering the first Pilgrims—the ones I heard about in third grade who wore silver buckles on their shoes and were near perfect, remember?—and those of quail hunting, football games, and big dinners in Oklahoma.