As the holidays are coming up (I’m writing this on Halloween) I’ve been spending awhile thinking through my holiday memories. And I thought I’d share these memories with others.
My Halloween memories are next to non-existent. My mother never let my siblings and I go trick or treating. She claimed it was not for religious reasons (although my siblings and I aren’t too sure about that) but that she didn’t want her children “begging for candy from strangers”. All our pleas of “it’s not begging, they buy it just to give it out” fell on deaf ears. We never even handed out candy. Sure, mom would buy candy for us to eat inside. But it was never the same.
Still, I did manage to go trick or treating just once. When I was 9 years old, Halloween fell on a Friday. My parents and younger siblings were all set to go to the high school football game, but my older sister and I were going to sleep over at a friend’s house. We swore to our mother that the friend didn’t go trick or treating for whatever reason, then snuck old dance recital costumes in our backpacks and went out. And you know what? It was thrilling. But as we moved away by next Halloween to a new area with new friends (and Halloween didn’t fall on a weekend the next year), we couldn’t quite manage to pull the same trick again.
Thanksgiving has always been my least favorite holiday. Growing up it was the holiday we spent with my father’s family. It was always gender-role specific. The women would stay to the kitchen cooking and sharing about their pregnancy/birth stories (really weird to hear when you’re 8, by the way) and the men would congregate around the TV, watching the football pre-game talks, the football game itself, and the after-game analysis. No parade watching allowed. Most of my childhood memories of the holiday consist of my siblings and I trying to find things to do that wouldn’t get us yelled at by the adults.
As I write this, I’m realizing that such aggravating experiences with other holidays may be why I’m so Christmas-crazy. It was the only holiday where it felt like I could actually go out and do things. If we were stuck inside all day, at least we knew what to do: play with new toys. And there were songs to sing and snow to play. Some years we went to see the Nutcracker Ballet (the proper Russian version, mind you). We could help our mother pick out toys for the Salvation Army tree and sing Christmas carols at the top of our lungs.
So when midnight hits tonight and Halloween is officially over, I pray you’ll forgive me for switching directly to my Christmas playlist. I’ll do my best to keep it in my headphones until Thanksgiving (unless you get in my car, then all bets are off). But as it’s the one holiday whose always been a source of happiness for me, I’ll draw every, last bit of cheer out of it I can.
And if I can survive being a cashier in the height of the busiest retail season, you can handle hearing “My Grown Up Christmas List” ten times before Turkey Day.