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Festive floof! Celebrating then and now.

last year

Tis MY season! I love this time of year. I am wallowing in the fun I will have for the next few months. My Halloween display at work is up and the candy stash is dwindling quickly (though not as quickly as in years past) and I am in discussions with my sister about the thanksgiving menu and she herself and her family have begun to put out their Christmas display. (no worries, its not lit yet, it is just huge and takes several months to put it all out before they light it on Thanksgiving night) She and my other siblings always go over the top to make the holidays fun for their kids, and I do so to amuse myself and others. Tonight, however, I was thinking back to when I was itty bitty, and reflected on how we used to celebrate the holidays at home, and how its so different now.


We decorated the front porch with spider webs and whatnot. I do not ever remember carving pumpkins. Most activities were at school. We never went trick or treating, we stayed at home to hand out candy to the other neighborhood kids, which seemed unbearably cruel at the time. But as an adult I recognize that my parents had 6 kids, and it would be overwhelming to take such a hoard from door to door. We always attended the school "fall festival," which was a lot of fun. I still have a touch of resentment towards my mom for always putting a damper on that fun. For the festival, everyone wore a costume. There was a big box of all sorts of costumes on our attic. My siblings got to pick whatever they wanted. Me? my mother made me go dressed as a bride every single year. If I protested, then I was threatened with not being able to go to the festival at all. One year she followed through on that. She made me wear that bride costume for years after it was comically too small. I do not know exactly why, and she denies to this day that she forced it upon me, even with my dad and siblings backing me up.( I tell her its because of this that I am shacked up in sin and not married. Yes, I know I am terrible) One year I participated in the cake walk 5 times, and won every time. I was so thrilled as I never won ANYTHING. My mom gave ALL my cakes that I won away. She denies that as well. Funny how one remembers small things like that so many years later. Anyway, as I got into middle and high school I was a regular feature in the dunking booth at the fall festival, and my friends and teachers got such glee hitting that target, sending me screaming into the icy depths of that dunking booth over and over for hours. I used to LOVE when the really little kids hit that target, sending me swimming. They thought it was so funny! If they missed I would tell them to run up and hit the target anyway. Either way they felt like winners. Anyway, that was then. Now, I decorate my office and sort of dress up. I do not wear costumes to work but I have lots of Halloween tops and dresses and hats and glasses and earrings and other fiddle faddle. I have the most ADORABLE witch shoes that I wear with striped leggings when I wear a dress and sparkly purple flats when I wear a regular pants/top outfit. I provide candy for my drivers and the other people that work there. At home, I have Halloween plates that I switch out our regular dishes with and put the Great Pumpkin sheets and pumpkin comforter on the bed. I have Halloween hand towels and I make a point to cook a pot roast in my Pumpkin dutch oven. I watch the Great Pumpkin and Garfield's Halloween special. I do not have treat or treaters, but if I did I would hand out candy. I work on Halloween this year, I will spend that night taking down and packing up my Halloween display and putting up Thanksgiving.


Thanksgiving was not a season, it was a day. We would put a tablecloth over the ping pong table and eat a turkey dinner on that instead of at the kitchen table. And we ate off the Spode Christmas plates with the good silver. Because that made it more special I guess. My mom did not like cooking and all her food was bland and so I do not think she enjoyed it. When I was about 12 or so I did the whole Thanksgiving dinner by myself, and honestly did not understand what was so stressful about it for her. The most stressful thing was people poking their nose into what I was doing and barking advice at me. NOW, I think my mom was just sad. Our only extended family nearby was my fathers mother, who lived with us and was a miserable pill, and her large family was states away and I think that made her sad. Once I took over the cooking she liked the day a lot more. Also the addition of children in law and grandchildren certainly helped. She did a very basic menu. Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, some green beans, canned cranberry sauce and stove top stuffing. NOW, its a season for me, and the main difference between the day is of course a bigger family to share it with, and the food itself. Between my sister and I we do much more food, more variety and frankly, the food is just better than it was back then. Stuffing has been replaced with my chicken dressing, which I learned to cook just for SO a few years ago and now my own family is in love with it. Homemade cranberry fruit compote is served alongside the nostalgic canned stuff, and things like mac and cheese and lots of little finger foods for fun have been added and are now must haves. Food is SEASONED properly, shocking! My parents rarely host it anymore. Though my out of town siblings stay at their home if they come into town for the day, which is not every year. My sister has a much bigger house and more room and her and I both do the cooking. I think this makes mom very happy. She can just show up, eat and enjoy family. Of course, I work a lot on Thanksgiving. I am scheduled to work it this year. But I will make some things to contribute to the feast, and will do a smaller one at home just for me and SO to share before I head to work that night. I put the Peanuts thanksgiving sheets on the bed the day after Halloween. I keep the pumpkin comforter from October. I use the Thanksgiving turkey dishes from the day after Halloween until the day after Thanksgiving. I watch the Charlie brown Thanksgiving, and Garfields thanksgiving special, and by then I am already eyeballs deep in to my Christmas prep.


I have nothing but great memories around Christmas. Even though we were subjected to all the religious rituals , long masses and advent wreaths and such, my parents always made the Christmas season special. I went to a Catholic School, so they did both religious and secular fun things all season long too. I was in the Christmas choir in church, the school Christmas pageant, anything I was allowed to participate in I was there. We did Santa Clause and all that, which was of course the best part. Christmas Eve was a fun feast of TONS of finger food to graze on, all made by me from age 12 on. Christmas dinner was pretty much a repeat of Thanksgiving. My dad would watch different versions of A Christmas Carol over and over and over. Now, I have way more fun as an adult. I decorate my office, usually before Thanksgiving. I know that annoys some people to decorate before Thanksgiving but its a TON of work and I hate to do all that and only have it up for a month. I decorate at home. I get a real tree. I do it all myself because SO had bad Christmases growing up and doesn't get as much into the spirit as I do, though I have rubbed off on him some. I don't mind. I like having it just so and while I allow him to do the undesirable work of hauling things and pounding the giant stakes that hold my 20 foot tall inflatable Santa and Snowman in place, everything else I prefer to do. I change all my kitchen stuff, down to plates and utensils to my Christmas stuff. I change my bedding to the Peanuts Christmas sheets and snowman comforter. My immediate family decided many years ago that Christmas day would be spent at their own homes, enjoying it with their own families. We have our big family gathering sometime after Christmas. I do all the food, and take it to whoever is hosting it to serve at their house. As long as its not asked of me too close to my work schedule, I am happy to do it. Last year was a miserable imposition. I was so tired, but in the end I got through it and moved on. I watch Christmas movies all season long, including the same versions of A Christmas Carol my dad watched over and over. Its my favorite book, and I love different versions of the movie. ( there are a few versions I HATE with an unreasonable passion, but I feel justified about each one of them) I often work on Christmas. I am this year. And if I am scheduled to be off, someone usually asks me to work it for them. I usually do, mostly because I am a greedy pig that finds it hard to turn down the pay that comes with working it, but also partly because I am almost always free to do so since any official family celebrations are always after the day, and I won't be obnoxious and refuse to work for someone on principle. Not everyone has such flexibility when it comes to holiday celebrations. I spend the time here taking down the decorations, as I am almost certainly not going to have anything else to do.

So some things are the same, most things are different, but the memories of then and the experience of now and the thought of what is to come with the next holiday bring the same feeling of happy that they used to, maybe even more so now that I have full authority to do as I please without having to restrain myself. I know that the holidays are often not as fun for adults, because, well, as an adult it is on YOU to make it happen, to pay for it, to cook for it, to clean and decorate and host, and that is not always a joy. And so holidays are not as fun as they were when it was on someone else to do it all. But It is for me!

How is your "now" different from then? Do you keep the same traditions, the same menus, the same rituals? Have you abandoned them altogether for your own? Or is it a mixture?

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