Friday, March 21, 2014
I talked about Christmas in a previous story so I will leave it out of this one. Christmas is my favorite holiday; that is why I devoted so much time to it. It is the one time of year when you are somewhat forced to show the people you care about how much you care about them. We should make that time all year long but we do not. So even if you think Christmas is too commercialized, enjoy the feelings of love given and received. The gifts and food are the excuse to get together to do that.
New Year's Day is the beginning of the year in the United States. It is treated as a holiday and most workers have a paid day off. The truth of the matter is that New Year's Eve is what most people celebrate. They go to bars or parties to celebrate and drink with their friends. It is the holiday that Americans use as an excuse to get drunk.
I worked as a waitress in a bar for several years. We both hated and loved New Year's Eve. As a group we would rent tuxedos to wear for the occasion. It was not something our employer asked or expected of us... it was what we did to make it fun for us. So we paid for the tuxes out of our own pockets.
The place I worked sold tickets and only allowed a certain number of people in. It cut down on the misunderstandings that sometimes come with overindulgence. It was also just more orderly. Regular customers would make reservations so that large groups could sit together to welcome in the new year. They might even request that they be seated in the section of their favorite waitress.
It was a jolly mood and people would have a good time with each other. There was a DJ and a live band so music and dancing were a large part of the night. We also stayed open an extra two hours to give them a longer time to celebrate.
All of that was fun. But the waitresses and bartenders worked hard all night. We were not paid more by management so we hoped for good tips. After a couple of years we realized the reason the tips were so low. In a big party of people (sometimes there would be twenty or thirty in one party) a lot of them thought that everyone else was tipping so it was not necessary for them. We made less money on that night than any other night of the year.
One thing I do not like about New Year's Eve is that some people think it gives them the right to drive drunk. There are so many drunk drivers on the streets that I do not go out anymore. Not even to the movies. I simply stay home and watch the ball drop in Times Square on television.
St Valentine's Day is a cute holiday. When I was a little girl it was great fun to sign my name to little valentine cards for all my classmates at school. We usually all took some sort of treats as well because there would be a little party at the end of the school day.
St Patrick's Day is huge in my family. My children are all Irish you know. Wearing of the green and tales of leprechauns and banshees are the order of the day.
My brother-in-law had a huge St Bernard dog. He built a little cart that the dog could pull. For St Patrick's Day my sister-in-law would decorate it in green. Then my niece and my daughter would dress like the Irish lassies they are and ride in the dog-powered wagon in the St Patrick's Day parade.
I always loved Celtic music, especially the Irish Rovers. I know you remember them. They sang The Unicorn song. I had always wanted to go see them live. My children were no fun and none of them would go with me. None of my friends were ever interested and it did not seem like it would be any fun to go alone so I never went.
Then my darling granddaughter said she would go with me. I got the tickets and we made a night of it. We went out to dinner. We dressed in our finest greenery. What a good time we had.
My granddaughter was enthralled. She glowed as she watched them sing. The man sitting on the other side of her was having as much fun watching her as I was. She loved the music and she loved the jokes and bantering onstage.
After the performance the Irish Rovers gather to give autographs and take pictures with fans. They were so nice to my granddaughter and talked to her to say they were glad she was there. She was in love. We have an annual date now to see them when they come to town before St Patrick's Day. The guys in the band remember her and make a point of speaking to her. Sadly this will be their last year of touring.
Easter was fun when I was a child. Easter baskets full of goodies and colored eggs all over the house . We would search for the eggs the Easter Bunny hid. Somehow Mom always knew exactly how any there were.
Often we would go to the farm to eat a nice Easter Dinner with my grandparents and aunts and uncles. Cousins would come with other aunts and uncles. If the weather was nice we would hide and re-hide the eggs all day outside. On rainy days we went to the attic and hid them there. Of course someone always hid an egg in the mouth of Grandpa's stuffed bobcat. Of course I was always the one to see it first. Of course my competitive spirit forced me to take that egg. I would shake as I took it but I always got that egg.
When I was grown we continued the celebration for our children. We would gather at my parents' house and let the children hide and hunt eggs all day.
Then my father died on Good Friday. We were all devastated. He was truly the center of the family. We tried to keep things as normal for the children as possible to try to ease their pain a bit.
We did not realize it but we sort of stopped celebrating Easter after that. Easter baskets were delivered by the Easter Bunny and there was food but the joy was not there and we did not even know we had stopped celebrating.
The years passed and my youngest son was married and had two children. He asked me why we did not have the big Easter get-togethers any more. I was shocked. I told him I did not realize that we had drifted away from them.
He re-started fun family Easter celebrations. There were games and food and egg hunts again. The thing that my grandchildren remember most is a new tradition. Once the eggs have been mauled by the hunters, they all get together and have an Easter egg fight. They throw eggs at each other until kids and adults are covered with shells and egg stuff. How times have changed.
May Day is not celebrated much anymore. I can remember making May baskets out of large paper cupcake holders and pipe cleaners. Then we would fill it with candies. We would go to the home of someone we liked. We would go to the door, ring the bell (or knock), set down the basket, and run. If the person receiving the basket could catch you that person had to give you a kiss.
Nobody had explained how this worked. I had prepared several baskets and was with my mother delivering them. I knocked on the door and stood there. Mom was yelling, "Run, run!" I was confused. After my first kiss, Mom explained how it worked. Now she tells me.
Memorial Day is a special time. It is the day we take to remember those we have lost over the years. Trips to the cemetery are the order of the day. Graves are cleaned and headstones washed. Flowers are planted. Flags are placed. At one cemetery we are fortunate to have a man playing bagpipes who wanders through the cemetery playing appropriate music.
July 4 is the birthday of our country. We celebrate it with fireworks and baseball games.
I had a friend on the city council of our city. She told me she had tickets for people who wanted to sit on top of one of the buildings downtown to watch fireworks. How many did I want? I asked how many I could have.
I was able to take my cub scouts, my little league baseball team that I managed, all my nieces and nephews, my brother and sister, and my mother and father. There were folding chairs for everyone to sit on. We were right at the edge of the river. The fireworks were launched from a barge in the middle of the river. It was beautiful.
Labor Day is the day to honor the worker. Most workers have a paid day off. It is also known as "the last blast of summer". Many people get together and cook out for one last time before putting the barbecue grill away for the winter.
Then comes Halloween. My second favorite holiday. It is so much fun. There are scary scarecrows, people dressed in scary or funny costumes, and trick-or-treating.
My brother and his friends dressed as KISS every year until they were grown. Then the younger boys took over. Now my grandchildren are KISS. Is my family obsessed or what?
There have been other notable costumes. When I was in kindergarten Mom made my costume. I was a pumpkin. My costume was held in it's rounded shape by metal coat hangers. I had trouble getting through the door to my classroom but I loved that costume.
My second son wanted to be the Grim Reaper. I found directions in a magazine to show me how to get the make-up done. It turned out so well that he went like that for several years in a row.
My oldest son decided he was too old to trick-or-treat. He was. He dressed as a scarecrow. He used an old pillowcase over his head so he did not look human. An old hat and baggy clothes with newspapers stuffed in to make him look lumpy and a few pieces of straw around the neck, arms, and legs completed his costume.
He sat in a chair at the end ot the steps where we were passing out treats. He would wait until a child was the only one looking at him then he would give a little wave. After the initial shock of seeing the scarecrow move the child would tell his mother about it. Every time, the mother would soothe the child and tell him it was his imagination. Then as soon as she would look away it would happen again. My son had a lot of fun.
It was more fun than he had as a werewolf. We used Elmer's glue and fake whisker bits to make his face and hands nice and hairy but not evenly so. When he returned from trick-or-treating he could not wait to get it off. It itched.
My oldest grandson was a little old to be trick-or-treating but he and his friends went just to have fun. He dressed as a ghost with a white sheet and a white pillow case over his head. His friend went as an escaped prisoner. His friend happens to be black.
People were acting really funny when the boys knocked on their doors. Finally the police came. My grandson was told to go home and take off his costume. People thought he was dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan!
My second grandson was reading the Bible... for pleasure. He does things that one would not expect of a child but there you are. He decided to be Moses for Halloween. He got a great many compliments on his costume but most people thought he was dressed as Jesus even though he was holding the tablets with the 10 Commandments.
Thanksgiving is the holiday for being thankful for all the good things in your life. The traditional meal is centered around a roast turkey. And a lot of everything to go with it.
In my family Mom always cooked a huge dinner. Then we could eat and nibble whenever we wanted to. The thing was that there were also football games on television. Mom and Daddy watched as many as they could find. And woe to the person who had the temerity to get between them and the TV.
Mom would yell to get out of the way. Daddy did not yell. He simply took off his slipper and let it fly. We usually went to our rooms and played cards or read.
We are back to Christmas. Much love to every person I care about.