The summer holidays were easy. Families spend time together in the back yard, at the beach or the park where the space is wide-open. Family members are together but you can easily avoid the ones you can’t stand.
Halloween in America involves a last blast of outdoor activity. Houses decorated with skeletons and witches, vampires and mummies and carved pumpkins that are lit up at night to delight the children who will eventually traipse from house to house extorting candy. In addition to the trick-or-treating, October’s holiday involves visits to haunted sites (house, barns, abandoned prisons, etc.), hayrides through apple orchards, adventures in corn field mazes and massive raids on pumpkin fields.
After Halloween, the holidays become claustrophobic as they move indoors. And the worst of them is Thanksgiving spent with family and all its ghosts. Short days, long nights and cold air force everyone into the confines of the house. And there is no escape from those things which annoy you about your aunts, uncles and cousins. And to top things off, there’s the Big Feast. Turkey is the preferred centerpiece of a meal that varies from region to region in the United States. Accompaniments vary from the likes of baked potatoes to mashed potatoes, candies sweet potatoes to sweet potato pie, simple bread dressing to seafood infused cornbread, and many variations on cranberry sauce. All of it culminating in some form of pumpkin dessert.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I get to avoid the annoying side of my family. I don’t keep in touch with them and never invite them over. I get to spend my holiday with people I like, people I care about who also care about me.
Christmas is always a challenge. Decorations go up earlier as people rush to beat the inevitable snow. Over the years, the need for a tree has diminished as the household has grown smaller. Buying presents becomes more difficult. As people get older, they need less and want less. This year I have managed to find a few things that people want or that I think they would like well before the Thanksgiving sales. I will sleep through New Years Eve, as I have grown old enough to have confidence that the new year will arrive on schedule.
The only anxiety I feel around the holidays involves cleaning my house. Fall becomes the time of year when I must clean the house for company. And I have been a bit of a lazy housekeeper. Fortunately my daughter has started to take up the slack.