“Weekly Genealogy Blogging Prompt #7: Share your holiday traditions. How did you spend the 4th of July? Did the fire truck ever come to your house on Thanksgiving? Share your memories of all holidays, not just the December ones.”
I have few recollections based on holidays. Some of my earlier Christmas memories aren’t based on Christmas in my home, but are based on Daddy (I only assume Mother was there) taking Mickey and me to the Mayor’s Christmas party at the municipal auditorium (now the Civic Center). The party was held upstairs in what was called the Hall of Mirrors, which was a huge ballroom. There was a Santa Claus who handed out gifts to every child present (and there were a lot). The gift was always a large red mesh bag filled with fruits – apples, oranges, and grapefruit – plus unshelled nuts and candy – old-fashioned ribbon candy and some chocolate covered. Today’s kids would not likely be impressed with such a gift when compared with computers, IPODs, Wiis, cars, etc., I always loved that mesh goody bag and treasured every bite of fruit, nut and candy.
Mother always dreamed of being able to buy a snow sled for Mickey; living in Oklahoma where we get incredibly little snow would make such a gift impractical, to say the least. However, she eventually did get him that snow sled.
I know instinctively that we celebrated Christmas and likely had a Christmas tree and gifts but I really don’t remember any of them. I know, as Kay mentioned in her blog, that we opened gifts on Christmas Eve, but I have no memories to base that on, except that I know I continued to practice as an adult what I had known as a child.
As with Christmas, I also don’t remember Thanksgiving when I was a child. Because I chose, once I was married and living in my own home, to celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving with all the trimmings – turkey, dressing, candied sweet potatoes, hot rolls, pumpkin and pecan pies, etc. – I assume it was something I experienced, but I really don’t have any early Thanksgiving memories.
In spite of the fact my maternal grandfather died on October 31  and my mother was partially raised by a sister who wouldn’t allow any celebration of that day, probably my favorite holiday as a child was Halloween. I think I was so blessed to live in a time that was relatively safe because All Hallow’s Eve was a night to look forward to – dressing up in whatever we could put together as a costume (most likely made up from makeup, fabric, belts, etc. There was certainly not the market of mass-produced, cheaply made costumes prevalent today. The task was to get to as many homes as possible to collect masses of goodies. There wasn’t such a thing as the mini-candies of today, so if you got a Milky Way, it was a 5-cent candy bar (for those of you who never knew a nickel could buy anything, that means the full-sized or regular candy bar – we not only didn’t have the mini-sized ones, there weren’t any double-sized ones either). Every kid would grab a grocery bag (once again, this was before the “paper or plastic” choice available today), and head out to get it filled. Sometimes we would get one grocery bag filled and run it home to empty it and go out again. The streets were filled with kids going door to door and there were no parents out accompanying their kids for safety’s sake – they were all at home answering the door and giving out goodies. We would go trick or treating from about 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., which is how and why we could collect so much. Once we were home, it was time to begin going through the bag to see how much ‘loot’ we had accumulated. This candy stash would last us until the Mayor’s Christmas party.
Another of my personal ‘holiday’ favorites during my teen years included celebrating the Oklahoma Run, known as 89’ers Day – April 22. That was great! We dressed in costume for the day – and it was a school day, at least in the morning. There were festivities at school, including being able to put people in jail for certain offenses; there were, of course, get-out-of-jail cards as well as penalties that could be paid to be released. Because there was a parade in the afternoon and the band and clubs would participate, school was dismissed in time to get downtown for the parade. The parade began downtown on Broadway and marched from there down Robinson Street to SW 25th and then headed west for a few more blocks. Again, it was a great experience to be enjoyed as well as to learn and relive, in a way, our State’s exciting history. I hear kids in the school system today indicate they hate Oklahoma history as a subject; I think once again instituting a school and community-supported 89’ers day might bring back a sense of joy in our Oklahoma heritage. I used to think Oklahoma had the best history stories of any state – I’ve since learned some other states’ stories and know they are good as well; the opportunity to celebrate your state’s and country’s history is foundational to a sense of loyalty and patriotism. Shared experience is one of the things that bind people together and should not be allowed to disappear from our memories.
Another holiday that was celebrated more spectacularly then than now was Easter. Families would hard-boil eggs, decorate and then hide them for Easter egg hunts. I remember one year going to visit my cousin, Bobbie Louise, and her family and having our Easter egg hunt in the little park across the street from their house. This was also a time when children could visit the Easter bunny in the same way they could visit Santa Claus at Christmas.
Easter not only was the day celebrated in honor of the resurrection of Christ, it was the time of celebrating new life in the earth’s cycle. It’s the time of year when vegetation begins to surge to life with green leaves opening up on the trees and flowers beginning to break through the ground. To mimic that aspect of the renewal of life, people always got a new outfit to wear for that Sunday. It was the day when you could put away your black or brown shoes and get out your white ones – white couldn’t be worn prior to Easter Sunday. Going to church on Easter Sunday was always a breath-taking display of pastel colors in the women’s apparel.
The movie musical Easter Parade depicts the importance of dressing up for that day; I’m sorry Easter isn’t celebrated any more by dressing up for the occasion. Even though our attire doesn’t have anything to do with the resurrection of Christ, I always felt it was an outward show of the inner transformation and ‘newness of life’ that was a part of the celebration of that Christian experience .
For our family’s later holiday traditions, see Kay B’ Place holiday post for February 20, 2009.