Robbin Bruce: Holidays are not just about a day off

  • Thursday, November 15, 2012

Back in school there was one thing we all kept up with, that was the calendar. It usually started with the first day of school, then finding out when would be the first day we didn’t HAVE school.
Back then we didn’t have as many days off as kids do today, but then again, we didn’t start in the middle of August like they do now, our first day was always the first Tuesday after Labor Day. So I guess it all evens out.
Then when we finally made it into the working world, and the holidays became fewer, even though we became older, and it seems like they became even more important, but for different reasons. Then they became days where for no other reasons, we can just get “away” for a few days.
 I got to thinking about that this morning as I started thinking of a column. I know Thanksgiving’s coming but I really wasn’t sure if it was next week or the week after. When I was younger, by now I had started the countdown to Christmas already. I could tell you exactly how many days till Thanksgiving, my birthday, and Christmas. This was a big time of year for me. On these three days, I got to eat whatever I wanted, plus on two of them I got the magic word, “PRESENTS.”
But I guess that’s what got to me this morning, thinking about Thanksgiving. Back when I was younger, believe it or not, it was a big deal to me. Up until I was 10 or so, we were never really home for the holidays much. It usually was just us, and maybe a couple friends of my folks. I remember one year we even ate in the mess hall, seems like that was on Guam. So having a big family get together was an unusual experience. If you’ve never spent the holidays away from family, that might seem like a foreign concept. They can be some of the loneliest times of the year.
That all changed when we moved back to Carolina. It seemed like it always started on Wednesday night. That would be when Aunt Louise and Uncle Curtis and their kids would come in for the weekend. Mom would be cooking, Aunt Louise would always have us laughing about something, and the house, even though it was full of boys, would even come more alive. Then the next day the rest of the family would show up, and the house would get even livelier. After dinner a football game would break out on the front yard. I can still see Uncle Curtis, running with us as if he was still 10 yeas old. It would take two or tree of us to bring him down, but he was always the one laughing the hardest.
Those are memories now, good ones, but the years, they never stop. Three years ago, we lost Momma, and to be honest, I really don’t think any of the brothers were really looking forward to the holidays too much. You know how holidays are, not only are they filed with sounds, but tastes and smells as well. Nothing says holiday to a country boy like the smell of tater pies fresh out the oven. Or the taste of dressing, Momma’s dressing, nobody had her recipe, and like a lot of things, we figured it was gone as well. But I have to hand it to Mel. The night before Thanksgiving, the smells of tater pies filled the air at the house. And then she was paid the ultimate compliment by Roger as we were eating, “Melanie, this dressing taste’s just like Momma’s”… I think D.C. would be proud.
Where years ago it was family coming in for the holidays, nothing’s really changed, the tradition continues, though it is a little different. All the grandkids now show up at my house on Wednesday night, plus their friends. It’s usually pizza and movies, but not just that. Mel’s got them in the kitchen mashing potatoes, for pies and tater salad, or tearing up cornbread for dressing. Plus getting the turkeys ready for in the morning. Me, I’ve got two right now to fry, but somebody else might need one. Usually the kids are still asleep, all over the floor by the time I get started. But the smell of Mel making doughnuts usually gets them stirring.
And that’s what the holidays are really about, not just a day off. That’s what Saturdays are for. No, the holidays are for making memories and traditions, something you can pass on to your kids. Then they can pass them along, not only to pass on, but to add to. And while times and traditions change, one thing always stays the same,,,

You can reach Robbin Bruce by e-mail at robbinbruce@yahoo.com.

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