Holiday Traditions I Miss From My Childhood

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Most families have traditions during holiday times. They develop over the years and continue changing as the generations cycle. Some disappear completely.

Holidays go beyond Thanksgiving and Christmas. They include many days throughout the year. These all provided memories I look back on quite often.

Birthday

My birthday was never a big event, but there was one thing my mother always did that was precious to me. She always made me a chocolate cake. Half had icing for my father who loved his sweets. The other half was for me without the icing. She did that every year for me when I lived at home. This past birthday, my youngest daughter made me a chocolate cake with no icing for me. That meant so much to me.

Easter

Each night before Easter, my mother would help me make a nest for the Easter Bunny. Yes, a nest. I would take my housecoat and create a snuggly nest at the foot of my bed. The next morning, I would find goodies for the famous critter. The nest was a critical part of that holiday for me as a child. I now have passed that on to my children. In fact, my youngest demanded I still do it her last Easter at home before she turned eighteen.

Fourth of July

Okay, my family didn’t do much for this holiday. We grilled out and watched the fireworks. The only thing I really remember is the sparklers we lit and ran around the yard with.

Halloween

Back in the day…. Yes, I just dated myself. But when I was little, we went out trick or treating all by ourselves. My mom only accompanied me when we lived on the farm as she had to actually drive me to houses of people we knew to get that wonderful candy. Oh, the delicious popcorn ball I got at one house!!!!! Still think of how yummy that was. After we moved to a city, I went with just my friends in the neighborhood. You can’t do that anymore safely.

The best part was when I was done. I would spread my candy haul out on the kitchen table to sort. Then my father would sneak in and steal what he watned. I would yell at him. He would laugh and do it again.

Thanksgiving

This was when the family began the holiday gatherings. We usually gathered at our house and ate wonderful food. My favorite was a cranberry gelatin dish my grandfather loved. Mom made it every year even after he passed.

Aside from that one dish, I loved having the family together. We laughed. We made memories. We are continuing this with my family as we gather each year at my daughter’s to make all new memories.

Christmas

This was much the same as Thanksgiving, but the memories here seem to be stronger. We always had Santa visit on Christmas Eve. I would try to spy him, but my family kept me occupied. Then I would sneak in to see my gifts from him. Such wonderful memories.

These memories became even more precious when my nieces came on the scene. We had such fun playing and being so innocent.

New Memories

As a child, I saw the world as wonderful. The innocence of a child can be strong. That is why so many childhood memories are precious to me. I loved thinking we all got along and all was well in the world. Wish it was that way again.

Why Are We Afraid of the Dark?

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Many things scare us. There are so many phobias that it seems new ones are made everyday. But why is the dark so scary? It is the unknown.

Achluophobia: Fear of darkness.

The unknown surrounds us. We don’t know what will happen in the next few minutes much less the next few years. We don’t know what other people are thinking. We don’t know the truth of what is told to us. The unknown is all around us…especially in the dark.

The dark hides things. It keeps so many thing from us. We can’t see what is standing six feet from us. We might not be able to see what is a foot from us. Details are hidden from our eyes. That gives us pause. There is no way to control the world around us in the dark. Danger could be lurking in the dark.

To a degree, I love the dark. It is calming. I can’t see all the other things that stress me. My world is limited. It is as though everything beyond my visual borders doesn’t exist. Oh, so nice and relaxing.

I love to sit out on a porch at night or around a campfire. The world is small, and darkness pushes the rest away. I can breathe easier. But darkness can be scary at times.

When I’m in a place I’m unfamiliar with, the dark can be scary. When I’m in danger, darkness is not a friend. In my writing, these feelings can be put to words to ehance a scene.

How do you feel about darkness?

I Think I’m Haunted

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No, I’m not crazy. Okay, maybe I am, but that is not the point here. The point is that I seriously think I’m haunted. There are voices in my head. They whisper in my ear. I have to be haunted.

In my free time, I’m a writer. That means not much time writing as I work full-time. Well, at least there is not much actual writing going on. But I hear the characters talk to me no matter what I’m doing, even moving product around the country.

Yes, I said they talk to me. I can be in the middle of processing an order for my day job. A whisper in my head creates a scene or an entirely new plot idea. I hear the characters tell me what they think should happen or how they want to develop. They don’t always agree with the way I see a story going. They tend to have their own opinions and like to voice them.

But the voices are not really why I think I’m haunted. It is the voices of past characters who keep coming back to remind me that they are not dead. Yep, their souls are still there and like to drop hints for more stories about them. Like I don’t have enough story ideas!!! They add to the list.

Characters never really leave for the fictional after-life. They stick around like ghosts. They are not solid, but their essence is there to torture you. I say torture because I have laid them to rest and moved on. But they refuse to just fade into the night. They persist to plot and scheme.

I don’t mean to complain. Their presence is not always terrifying as you expect from a haunting. There are times when they bring a smile to my face. I remember getting to know them and experiencing so many adventures with them. Oh, the memories!

Only writers can understand the idea of being haunted by fictional people. It is a most unique situations. I’m just glad my hauntings aren’t like King’s. That would be an experience I’d pass on.

I’m Only Known for Loving to Read

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When you think of specific people, usually one or two things come to mind first. My brother brings to mind hunting and laughter. My cousin makes me think of anything Irish. My oldest daughter makes me think of music. This got me to thinking. What do people think of when I cross their mind.

Okay, there are a few things they think of we won’t mention here for those with delicate eyes and ears. But for those who don’t go directly there, what do they think of? Reading.

Yes, I love books. I always have. So on social media, people see funny things about books and share them with me. I do love those. But that is only what I’m known for. I am so much than that.

Think of more than my reading love!

I have a mind!

Seriously, there is more to me than books (not much but that’s not the point!).

I enjoy learning. That can come in so many forms. Documentaries are fun for me. Going to historical sites is a pleasure. I would attend school again if I could afford it. I search out anything I can learn and absorb. I’m just not a genius.

I love to crochet. Watching something beautiful (at least I hope it will) be created before my very eyes is amazing. To know that I am doing it is a miracle!

I want to feel wanted. It thrills me when someone asks me to make them something or just to spend time with me. It’s not that I have to be the center of attention, but I need to feel that my life is not wasted.

Ah, but I am an avid reader. I guess you could blame my mother for that. She loved to read though she really didn’t do a lot of it, mainly at night before she fell asleep. The farm work called to her sun up to past sun down along with the family she had ot take care of. But she made sure I was exposed to books early on. She read to me constantly. When we travelled, she bought me a book.

I remember one night when a vicious storm came through the area where we lived in an old farm house. The storm knocked the electricity out. Mom lit a hurrican lamp and sat it on the old coal stove we had in the living room for heating. She pulled out my box of books and read through the whole thing before tucking me into bed. I think I memorized those books.

I read every Nancy Drew book. It got to the point that I didn’t care what genre it was, I read it. That caused me to learn a few things early in life that I probably shouldn’t have. But I’ve enjoyed all the worlds I have explored because of books.

Okay, thinking of reading when you think of me might not be such a bad thing. I could be addicted to much worse things out there like reality shows.

My Favorite Childhood Toy

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When this prompt came up, I didn’t hesitate or need to think. I knew straight away what my favorite childhood toy was. It was Molly Moo Cow.

Oh, how I loved that cow! My mother said I took her everywhere. I mean everywhere…even the bathroom.

Yes, I said the bathroom. I wish I could find the picture my mother took of this scene so you could fully understand how much I loved this toy.

When my mother was potty-training me, she had this smaller version of a toilet she put in the bathroom for my little legs to use. To help me go, she’d take me into the bathroom, sit me on the child toilet, and read to me. Well, when you love someone, you like to share your experiences. Do you see where I’m going with this?

I took Molly Moo Cow, who was a hard plastic toy that was pulled by a plastic rope, and sat her on my child toilet. I then picked up on of my favorite books and sat upon the adult toilet. Seat was down, of course. I proceeded to read to my cow who I was potty-training.

Here I want to point out that at this age, I could not read a single word. But I knew that story by heart. You’d have thought me a child prodigy if you had stumbled upon this awkward scene.

My mother thought this was such a cute sight that she took a picture and gave me a memory I would have forgotten otherwise. That cow was a wonderful companion.

We all have a favorite toy. My son’s was a stuffed whale. These toys gave us comfort and fond memories. What your favorite childhood toy?

I Think I’m Cursed When It Comes to Plans

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I’ve been told my whole life to have a plan. There should be a plan for the next ten years, five years, twelve months, next week, and today. I do try to do this. I try to be good and make a plan. Then the curse descends.

I think I call on it by writing out my plan for the day or the week. So I plan it in my head. Nope! The curse still appears. I can never do what I plan to do.

I can plan to get the dishes done today. Oh, that won’t happen. Something will interfere. I know it will because it always does. An event will be sprung upon me by my daughter. My husband will be sick and have to go to the ER. It never fails.

Once, I was told that I exaggerated the chaos in my life. Then they spent an afternoon and evening with us and were shocked. I couldn’t get anything accomplished. All I did was put out fires. By the end of the night, I couldn’t do the things I knew needed to be done.

Today, I can plan to get an article written, do the dishes, and fold laundry. When I get home, we will have to run an errand, husband will be sick, daughter will need help with homework. Then I develop a headache. Nothing gets done.

My planning has a curse on it. I’m not sure who put it on me. I’d like for them to lift it. I’d like to get things done. As I’m writing this, I am getting work done online but nothing else. That is only because I’m home sick with the stomach flu. Not what I had planned.

I’m still told that success comes from planning. What they don’t ever talk about is what to do when the planning is interfered with. That is what I need advice for.

What do you feel cursed about? What seems to always go wrong for you?

I Thought I Knew What Scared Me

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Too often, we think we know ourselves pretty well. After all, we are the only ones in our minds. Then we discover that we can even fool ourselves.

Snakes scare me to death. Even writing that sentence gave me the shivers. But now I find something that scares me more. Fear of not accomplishing everything I want before I die.

I’m middle-aged now. Suddenly, I see myself sliding down the hill instead of trudging upwards. There is no unlimited future in front of me. I see a time limit now. I fear not getting it all done.

I literally have a hundred or more story ideas to write. I have hundreds of crochet and knitting projects to attempt. Can I get them all done before I die?

I know it sounds crazy, but now that I’m nearly fifty, I wonder. I fear it. I don’t necessarily fear dying. I fear not doing everything I want to get done.

Have you ever had a deadline that was fast approaching? Panic usually accompanies that. I guess you could say that is similar to what I’m experiencing.

So, snakes still scare me. I can’t stand them, but I can avoid them. Time is something that nobody can avoid. What am I going to do? Make the best of it and get things done. Wish me luck.

Alone in a Sea of People

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Have you ever heard that you can be alone in a crowd? I heard that phrase and thought it was poetic sounding and meant to be discussed in a philosophy class. That can be true, but it can be a very literal saying that I have learned from personal experience. You can be alone with a hundred people around you.

A crowd does not mean you are connected. That is what it comes down to. Connections. A crowd is just people. They are bodies, many times with no interest in you.

Think of it this way. You are sitting at a family gathering. You are troubled about an issue at work or are having marital problems. It could be depression haunting you. Those around you have no idea about what is hurting you inside. You are alone because no one else can connect with you.

Being alone can be physical and emotional. Alone can be no one around or no one who can understand and connect to you. I’ve felt it way too often.

Hurt is familiar to all of us. Not everyone knows about it. Your pain eats at you, but no one else can see it. It’s like seeing a ghost no one else can. Those around you cannot understand your reaction nor your feelings. You are alone in a crowd.

Most of the time, people don’t want to discuss such issues. To expose our inner feelings, makes us more vulnerable. That is dangerous and uncomfortable to us. We want to avoid those feelings.

I have found that writing scenes that require a character to feel alone in a character can be enjoyable because I have been there and felt that way. An author writes the best scenes if they have experienced the characters’ feelings. The author can make the scene real.

I wrote a novel for my master’s thesis. It turned out to be a very emotional piece of writing as I put so many real events from my life in it. The Black Sheep is a story of a middle-aged woman facing the death of her mother. Not only does she have to deal with the intense feelings within her, she has to deal with family drama which everyone faces at one time or another. The emotions of her mother dying, tension with siblings, and the fear and questions of the past are all from me. That made the scenes harder to write and more real.

Being alone in a crowd is very real. Connection of emotions is what it means. We can’t do it with everyone. Don’t feel bad if you have these feelings. Admit them. You can deal with them better if you do.

Do Some People Have a Chance for a Good Life?

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This was a question I was given during some research recently. At first, it was an easy answer. Then I paused. Maybe it wasn’t so easy. It really got me to thinking.

What is a Good Life?

Everyone’s defintion of a good life is different. For some, it is making it big and leaving their mark on the world. For others, it is having a ton of money and not want for anything. Then there are those who only want to be happy.

Before the main question can really be answered, the understanding of what is a good life is important. For this piece which is my answer to the question, I think of the good life as having food on the table, a roof over my head, and the ability to work.

Food on the Table

Every human should be able to eat each day and not go to bed hungry. Inadequate diet can lead to health issues and a shorter lifespan. A good life is being able to have a full belly.

Roof Over My Head

I have been homeless for a short spell. It is not fun. You have to move around a lot to avoid getting in trouble. You can’t have many necessities in life because you have to be mobile.

Ability to Work

Not being able to work can deeply impact a person. It prevents them from paying for food and a roof over their heads. It also gives a person a sense of value. Work is good for us.

The Key is the “Chance” for a Good Life

Not everyone gets these three things. Some don’t want them for one reason or another. The key here is the chance for that good life. If they have the chance, then they have the choice which makes it more valuable to us.

I think everyone should have this chance presented to them. They should have the chance to have food to eat each day. This is important for survival. They should have the chance to have a roof over their head. They should have the chance to work. No one should be excluded from any of these.

The “Other” Good Life

To many the good life is having money and not worrying how to pay the bills. I completely agree that this is a good interpretation of the good life. I have food everyday. I have a roof over my head, and I have the ability to work. It would be a very good life to not have to worry about paying the bills. Do I have a chance for that? Yes. I just have to work harder and smarter. The chance is there for anyone to have a good life no matter what the reasonable definition is.

Who Has That Voodoo Doll On Me?

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Ever have that feeling that the deck is stacked against you? Nothing seems to go right. Murphy’s Law is dictator. Trust me, I know this for a fact. If it can go wrong in my life, it typically does.

Yes, I know this sounds fatalistic. But I do feel that way at times. I had someone tell me that I exaggerated things. Well, they sat through an evening of my day and saw it first hand. I have the worst luck.

If it can go wrong, it typically does. That makes those few times things go right very precious. I just wish they came around a little more often.

Why do I use the term voodoo doll? Well, I began using that about 18 years ago when everything in our lives began to go wrong. My husband developed pneumonia. A few months later right before I gave birth to our last child, he ended up in the hospital for reasons doctors could not determine. Right after my daughter was born, I was told I might have cancer. Scared me to death as my father was already dying from that very unprejudiced disease. I had surgery that changed my life. It wasn’t cancer, but it was a lifelong issue I had to face. Dad died. My husband went into the hospital and discoverd that all his problems were symptoms of Chrons. He then lost his job due to being out sick too much. Credit fraud happened right after that. We moved in hopes of getting a fresh start. Medical problems only got worse as did our financial issues. Seemed we couldn’t trust anyone. Everyone went wrong year after year.

Each New Year, we toast that it will be better than the year before. Each year, we have to swallow those words. Things just don’t get better, no matter what we do. Oh, well.

Each New Year, I am determined to keep hope alive. You thought this was going to be an entirely depressing pieces, didn’t ya? I couldn’t let that happen. There has to be some fun in life.

Yep, the cards seem stacked against me, but I know how to play a few games such as poker. I will lose a few hands here and there. Okay, I will lose way more than I will win. But the important part is that I’m still in the game.

Bring it on!

No, I really didn’t mean that. Fates, just kidding.