When we lived in Fairfax (when I was much shorter) my parents would make every holiday a special treat. As I grow wiser (older) I understand that there is even more joy realized from giving than from receiving. I also have witnessed first hand the beauty of remembering my youth vicariously through my daughters eyes. This experience has unfolded through-out her life as she blossoms into a beautiful young women.
The first holiday memories began at my elementary school, Deer Park in Fairfax California. The teachers from that elementary school embraced the Holiday Season with a fundamental love for teaching that began with Halloween and ending with Easter.
Drawing was not my forte... actually neither was handwriting but Halloween incorporated colors and formats easier to navigate than the complex drawing of a manger or an angel. I knew I could draw a broom stick, a ghost, and a pumpkin (although never round) and so these three Halloween staples became my go to pictures. Clouds could be represented with cotton balls and the moon (although never round) would be peering down upon a ghost (you'd have to use your imagination to actually determine it was a ghost).
The good part about Halloween was the candy... the bad part was having to stand there while my parents dressed me in some god awful costume while I invariably had to pee. After I experienced the typical diabetic coma it was on to the next holiday, Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving started at school drawing turkey's. My turkey looked like a Steven King anomaly replicating a lop sided alien creature not even close to the turkey we ultimately devoured on Thanksgiving day. My parents would always complement my drawing in which case I knew at that point their vision was failing them.
The Thanksgiving dinner would be the longest drive of the year navigating the many obstacles to land eventually at our friends home down in Belmont California. The delicious feast culminated in lots of primal noises and recycled smells. Finally the older participants would begin to snore while passed out in large overstuffed (just like us) chairs. My parents intuitively would wave their good-byes and pronounce another successful excursion into the land of gluttonous delight.
The final kid worthy holiday of the year is of course, Christmas. That was back in the good old days when we would greet everyone we met with, "Merry Christmas" and not "Happy Holiday". That was before "Black Friday" became the rallying cry and not homemade gifts crafted by local artisans... I digress.
The beauty of Christmas involved lots of singing both at school and at home, wonderful homemade cookies and fudge that only reared their collective heads once a year. In addition to all that there was the magic of surprise. The unexpected journey to the land of make believe with a grandfather like figure guiding a sleigh with reindeer dispensing toys to all the children of the world.
Our Christmas tree was a statement about my parents and their amazing creativity on full display. They would cut down a branch from a tree (usually an oak) that was barren of all leaves. They would then paint the branch white and stick the branch in an old bucket securing it with cement. They would put the colorful balls on the tree finishing the tree with angel hair, snow (from a can) and finally a multi-colored light showering the tree with an almost "Northern Light" look. I would be awed by that tree as no one to this day (that I've seen) has created such a spectacular variation on a constant theme.
Enjoy the Holiday gauntlet and take time to bring the perspective of giving and thankfulness into your home as you never forget or lose the child within you. That is the greatest gift you can give yourself, to remember the spirit that brought out the best of what this very special Christmas Season truly means.
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