Saturday, February 13, 2016

"Holidays," in Memoir HOME IS WHERE...

         Christmas was also a pretty exciting time at school as well as at home. In elementary school we helped decorate the classroom. We made paper chains and ornaments for the tree, painted holiday figures on the windows, too. We also made presents for our moms and dads and had to buy a present for the teacher. This was usually a pin, a scarf, or handkerchiefs.

         The next class holiday was Valentine's Day. We decorated, too, and gave all our classmates cards, and then we waited to see who we got cards from, looking to see if that Special Someone had given us one with candies with sayings on them.

         Easter we made baskets to take home for the Easter Bunny to fill.

         Thanksgiving we made turkeys.

         I think I liked Valentine's Day the best.

         In June, on the last day of school, we gave the teacher a goodbye gift. This was a little sad because this was always your favorite teacher of all.

                For Halloween we would plan our costumes weeks in advance and plan where we would trick-or-treat.  We knew where the best candy came from and where the apples and pennies were given, and we would add up how many houses we had been to and how much time we had left that night and where we would go.

                We would travel as a group every year. One Halloween when my children were small, nine and seven, I had one of my migraine headaches, so my cousin Pam, who had children also, offered to take my two with her. I was ever so grateful for this, and we still are close, even after all these years.

               Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day, even Valentine’s Day, when we passed cards to all our classmates, are vivid memories. We enjoyed Easter for the Easter baskets and later on for the Easter clothes and the church services, with the church decorated with beautiful flowers. My mother's favorite flower was the hyacinth. I still think of her when I smell one.

               A snow day wasn't a real holiday, but we thought it was. No school.  One winter we had a huge storm and school was closed for three days. We were out at the first sunlight, sleigh riding, building snow forts, making snow angels, and of course having snowball fights.

               We would sleigh ride on our hill in the yard or we’d go across the street, where there were two really big hills, and a bunch of kids would be there. It was a day-long event, and we would be soaked when we came home. Grandma would make us change our clothes, and she would put them on the radiator to dry.

               The next day the kids would head to the pond to skate, but not me. I was scared to death the ice would crack. One time I went with Dad up to the woods, to cut down some trees for firewood. He pulled me on the sled and said he’d go around the pond instead of across, but---no---he didn’t. He went right across the pond, and he was running, and I was screaming. We made it. Dad said he was sorry, that he just wanted to show me that it was alright.

               New Year's Eves, Aunt Toddy and Uncle Bill came by, and sometimes Aunt Jo and Uncle Connie, and of course Grandma Inky would come, and she would reign over the special New Year's dinner that every year was the same. We looked forward to the dinner, and probably to the company as well.

               One visit, on Easter, we had a blizzard. They had brought our cousin Conrad with them, and that didn't happen too often. They got stuck at our house for three days. He wasn't too happy about this. On another trip poor Uncle Connie got an ear infection and he couldn't drive for a week. They were stuck: Aunt Jo had never learned to drive.

                When they came up in the summer, we always had a picnic: hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken. There's a movie that Uncle Connie took, as he always had the movie camera with him: in the movie, Mommy is putting steaks on the grill. Whenever we viewed the film, we always laughed, claiming the steaks were only for the film and then put back in the freezer.

                Speaking of meat and the freezer, Mommy would over-buy meat for the freezer since she worked in the meat department, but she never rotated the other meats from the back to the front, so Vivian's big dogs would get all the freezer-burned meat, and Daddy would get so mad, telling Mom she was not saving any money if she was throwing the meat away.


                 We are serializing here the upbeat memoir by Kathleen Blake Shields, Home is Where the Story Begins: Memoir of a Happy Childhood, published last fall by Outskirts Press and available from OP and on-line booksellers like and in ebook and paperback format.        
                I am proud to have coached and edited for Kathy. My site is


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