As the calendar hits November, we are right in the middle of the “holiday season.” Now, I am not speaking specifically of Christmas, but between Halloween (I know, not an official holiday) and New Year’s Day, we have lots of holidays and events. Football games, holiday parties, Thanksgiving, Veterans Day, Christmas, New Year’s Day; lots and lots of days away from the grind and time spent with family and friends.
I was thinking about entering the Holiday Season last week as I was passing out lollipops to the zombies, princesses and superheroes during Halloween last week. Halloween was never one my favorite holidays, but it was always a great time. I remember as a kid being an astronaut, a police officer and a football player going out getting all the candy one would want. Now it’s fun to watch my own kids be a robot or a cheerleader or a ninja as they get their own candy.
As we enter November, I am looking forward to my favorite holiday, which is Thanksgiving. As I have gotten older, this day has changed so much for me. Growing up, Thanksgiving was a quiet, intimate affair. The day started out with my father taking me and my brother to Waffle House for breakfast. My father’s logic was that it was good that everyone not involved in preparing the Thanksgiving meal was out of the house. Yet, this would cause a day devoted to caloric excess to start in a particularly glorious day. Starting the day with hash browns and ending it with mashed potatoes, certainly made the holiday special.
Later the day was with my mom’s side of the family, which included my grandparents, my aunt and uncle and cousin. A small gathering of nine people, which of course included copious football and the requisite game of Tripoley, where the youngsters could gamble with pennies and nickels.
Time being what it is, Thanksgiving is now an event with my wife’s family, usually held at her grandparents’ house. My wife’s family being much larger and my wife’s grandmother whose hospitality knows no bounds, causes Thanksgiving to much more larger and louder. There are multiple aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews and even my own mother and brother show up. Everyone at different stages of life with their own stories; it is really a privilege to be a part of this event.
And of course, there is the youthful anticipation and excitement that Christmas brings. Even thinking about Christmas makes me think about some of those December mornings at home. As a family, we always went to Midnight Mass, so my brother and I weren’t always up with the sun, but I am sure my mother would agree that we were still up way too early.
Anyway, I can’t help think of the greatest Christmas gift I ever received. At the ripe young age of 11, my folks got me a Shortwave Radio, the Realistic DX-400. Many nights were spent huddled by the bedroom window with a copper wire hung out the window listening to radio stations around the world. I know to my parents, such a radio was certainly an expense, but I hope they realize that it was worth every penny as it helped me connect to the world in such a unique and interesting way.
I myself have a young son and daughter and I often wonder how the investments of time and treasure will impact their lives. This year, our family has been blessed to take trips to Florida and Washington, D. C. Even though I am there and see the look of wonder and excitement in their eyes as they explore the world, I often wonder what it would be like to get into their minds and really experience what they are experiencing, really seeing what they are seeing.
The amazing thing is you don’t have to go to the ends of the world to have unique experiences with your family, it can happen right at home and the holidays provide that chance to do that. So, this holiday season, whether it’s the joy of dressing up at Halloween, connecting with loved ones at Thanksgiving or exploring the wonder and joy of Christmas, I hope we can take time to see what others are seeing and experiencing what others are experiencing. Perhaps, that is really where the magic of the holiday season exists.
William (Bill) Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.