Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Reminiscing Thanksgiving Holidays Past

Thanksgiving is a traditional American holiday. Not everybody celebrates it, and if you are one of those bodies who don’t, that’s okay. It’s your prerogative.

But tradition is ingrained in my soul, and every year around this time, nostalgia embraces me like a Snuggie blanket. As I write this, Thanksgiving Day is slightly more than 72 hours away. And I remember.

I remember when I was a very young child, Thanksgiving was the time when our family would often kiss the city goodbye and head south to visit our relatives in the Tar Heel State. Usually, we stayed with our maternal grandmother at her farmhouse. Some of grandma’s other grown children would arrive with their families, and we would reunite with our numerous cousins and other relatives, those who arrived for the holiday weekend, and those who lived in the small town near grandma’s farm.

During the years when my family did not go to grandma’s house for the holiday, Mother would sometimes prepare the Thanksgiving meal and we would pitch in to help. As her children grew older and we had families of our own, we’d sometimes bring a dish that we prepared at home; creating sort of a pot luck Thanksgiving dinner.

I remember one year when I volunteered to bring the collard greens. What I did not realize after cooking what I thought would be a chef-d’oeuvre, not only were the greens undercooked, they were poorly seasoned. I had failed to add any of the staples for making a delicious pot of southern-style greens. No ham hocks or fatback or smoked neckbones. Minus those cholesterol clogging meats I should have seasoned the greens with table salt, but I didn’t think to do that. Can you say bland?

I don’t remember anyone complaining about the greens during the meal, although some of the suddenly wide-eyed expressions by folks when they began eating them should have been a giveaway. One forkful and everyone around the table knew that those were not my mother’s collard greens. Mother was born and raised in North Carolina, and back in those days, if southern women learned nothing else, they surely learned how to cook. And when it came to cooking collard greens, my mother could burn. She put her foot in it. If you are not familiar with the vernacular, those latter expressions are compliments, meaning mother’s greens were supreme.

After dinner, mother pulled me aside and trying to spare me from hurt feelings; she gently told me, “The greens were okay, but you should have cooked them a little bit longer and added some seasoning.”

That was my first attempt at cooking fresh collards. (Canned and frozen greens were the norm for this busy working mom.) Lesson learned. Do not volunteer to prepare a dish that you’ve never cooked for a family holiday dinner. Since then, thank God, I’ve learned to properly cook and season greens.

Sometimes, after our holiday dinner, we would clear the table, cleaned-up, and enjoy playing Bid Whist. (A note for the uninitiated — Bid Whist, is a card game where bidding partners strive to earn high points to win).

My younger brother was often my partner. Sometimes mom and dad played against us or my sister would be mother’s partner. If other whist-playing relatives, like my Aunt Sarah and Uncle James, were visiting, they would be partners. When there were enough people playing we would play rise and fly. That’s when you lose, and if there are other folks waiting to play, the losing partners get up, and another couple sits down to play.

I cherish those good times.

Unfortunately, as unavoidable as it is, things change, and so do people. Our family Thanksgiving holiday gatherings at my parents’ home ended way too soon. I’ve tried to maintain the tradition with my immediate family including grandchildren with the hope that after I’m dead they will have as many treasurable memories of family holiday gatherings as I have, and the tradition will become part of the family legacy for them as it did for me.

Due in part to PC and sometimes to religious beliefs, Thanksgiving Day, like Christmas and so many other festive occasions, has become a cause célèbre. I see the day as a time for gathering, to be with friends and family. If the history and origins of celebrating Thanksgiving Day bother you, then don’t think of the day as celebrating Thanksgiving. Think of it merely as an opportunity to get together with family and friends, some of whom you may not have seen for years (except at a funeral) and enjoy a good meal. It certainly is a convenient time to have the family gathering on a day when a lot of working people have the time off.

Life is short. IMHO sometimes, we need to temporarily set aside our convictions and seize the opportunity to enjoy spending time with those we love because opportunities don’t last. We never know if a loved one that we spend time with today may be gone tomorrow. A missed opportunity can sometimes be a huge regret.

I don’t wait for a particular day to acknowledge things for which I am thankful. I am thankful every minute of every day. I am thankful for my family and friends, including my blog and Facebook friends. Some of my online friends are people who I’ve known for much of my life. Perhaps we met in grade school or grew up together in the old neighborhood. We were friends long before there was social media. And some of the friends who I’ve met online, I’ve known them long enough now to consider them to be genuine friends. They are friends with whom I occasionally talk on the phone, and sometimes exchange birthday cards, email messages, or notes. I am thankful for real friends and also for good neighbors.

I am thankful for good health. I am thankful every day of my life.


Holiday Store Openings: The Hustle and Flow of Corporate Greed


Bargains are the drawing card, and some stores in an effort to get a jump on Black Friday are upping the ante by opening early. Recent newscasts report that this year, for the first time, Macy’s will join other retailers and open its doors on the eve of Black Friday.

Black Friday is that problematic shopping day known for attracting aggressive crowds; reports of assaults, shootings, and throngs of people trampling each other in an attempt to get the best deal on a limited stock item. In 2008, a Walmart employee was trampled to death when overzealous Black Friday shoppers stampeded as he was opening the store’s doors. The rudeness and sheer madness of frenzied customers is just one reason why retail workers want to avoid working on holidays; missing the opportunity to enjoy those days with their family is another.

I am a boomer and I remember when I was growing up most stores were closed on holidays. On Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day, nearly every store in Washington, DC was locked up tighter than Fort Knox, and downtown merchants were not the only ones who did not open. Neighborhood grocery stores closed too.

If my dad forgot to buy something needed for the Thanksgiving meal when he was grocery shopping earlier in the week, and mother sent me to the corner store, on Thanksgiving Day, for those last minute items, I arrived to find a hand written sign taped to the door reading, “Closed for the Holiday.” That same faded sign was posted there during the Christmas holiday season, as it had been on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, because “Mom and Pop” felt that it was important for families to be together on holidays. That was an era when many employers cared more about their workers than they cared about chasing profits.

Fast forward through the decades and holiday store closings is just one more thing of a bygone era.

Some people would argue that public servants work on holidays:  police officers, hospital personnel, and emergency responders, to name a few. True. But those people certainly had an expectation that their job would require them to work on holidays. In light of things, retail workers might as well consider themselves essential employees. While some sales helpers will jump at the chance to work on holidays and probably earn a few extra dollars, others are given no choice. The order is that you show up as assigned or — as the Donald would say, “You’re fired.”

Shrewd CEOs claim that by opening on holidays they are simply responding to customer demand — open the doors and they will come; and so they do. And while some customers are genuinely concerned about employees being required to work on those days, others only care that someone is available to service them. If I were a cashier, the last thing I would want to hear from a bargain hunting customer unloading a cart full of items onto the counter in front of me is “It’s a shame that they make you all work today.” The thought behind my cheesy smile would be – Pllleeease!  Tell it to the piper. If people like you would boycott the stores on holidays, then people like me could stay at home and enjoy our families, too.

Gone are the days when CEOs had empathy and compassion for their employees. In the words of Grand Master Flash’s prophetic song, The Message, “It’s all about money and ain’t a damn thing funny” about that.




Remembering Christmases Past

There is no other season that makes me long for the good old days like Christmastime. Compared to the chaotic, anti-religious period that we live in now, Christmas season during the sixties seemed a bit more civil and so much merrier. And, oh how well I remember Christmas when I was a child.


I remember the gifts that my parents set beneath the Christmas tree

Toys, new clothes, and goodie bags all for my siblings and me

One year there was a set of drums, a bowling set, and Twister

A tin doll house and a doctor’s kit for me and my little sister

Some years we each got roller skates and a game like Candyland

Things that today’s techie children just would not understand

There were boxing gloves, Tonka trucks, and GI Joe for the boys

Because of finances our Christmases did not always bring lots of toys

But we had a loving family and with the joy that Christmas brings

Our bond was more important than any of the material things

I so enjoyed the sweet music from Christmases in the past

It’s just too bad that those good old days did not last, and last, and last

This season also makes me remember Christmas music played at the rink

I roller skated to Booker T and the MGs, but now they play Nsynch 

Before I go off on a nostalgic tangent, I’m going to stop right here

And wish all my readers Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

My gift to you is this beautiful Motown Christmas blast from the past.