The very notion of a Holiday is the first step in creating a Holiday Tradition.
All of our holidays inspire special celebrations. Memorial Day has always been the official start of summer. Out in the Hamptons, we got our new beach pass, and although it might be chilly, we ventured down to the surf, if for only a few minutes.
July Fourth was the real beginning of summer, and hot dogs and fireworks helped us celebrate America.
Even Labor Day provided a tradition or two. Just as on Memorial Day, we made our way to the beach, so too on Labor Day. Except Labor Day served as the official end of summer. We celebrated at 5 PM on Ponquogue Beach by giving the lifeguards a rousing standing ovation as the last whistle indicated that they were going home for good. See you next year.
But two holidays, in particular, have given us the most traditions.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and you and your family will do what you have done for years and years. A turkey in the oven, stuffing that tastes like your mother just made it, and a nice wedge of pumpkin pie with a healthy helping of whipped cream to put an exclamation point on the Thanksgiving feast.
Of course, food is not the only tradition of the day.
Thanksgiving started with the Macy’s Parade when I was a kid and switched to the Laurel and Hardy movie, The March Of The Wooden Soldiers.
It always seemed that the Packers were playing the Lions which we watched a bit. But for my brother Michael and I, Thanksgiving represented the start of the train season. The Lionel Train season.
We would start looking at the new Lionel catalog, and the day after Thanksgiving, we got to work on creating our layout.
The only thing Black about this Black Friday was the steam engine that would soon be chugging around the loop of track affixed to our sheet of plywood.
The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas was the longest month of the year. Nevertheless, Christmas Holiday Traditions would commence soon after the stuffing was gone.
Listening to Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, Johnny Mathis, and Nat King Cole was always a surefire way to get you into the holiday spirit.
Making our Santa Claus wish list ( which always made my Father laugh) helped our imagineering skills prepare us for a life of disappointment.
Finally, it was time to decorate the tree.
I have previously described what happened to the last real tree we had at 1261 Leland Avenue, so I won’t bore you again. But in 1966, my mother and I decided it might be time to look for a new artificial tree.
My brother Michael and his wife Margaret were newly married and also needed a tree.
I wonder if we had supply chain issues (not sure if there were even such things as supply chains), but there was not an artificial tree to be had in the Bronx that year. Perhaps there was a shortage of green pipe cleaners?
We looked in every possible store that might have trees to sell. We even looked in the Park Florist on Metropolitan Avenue in Parkchester.
We eventually gave up.
I forget where Michael and Margaret finally got a tree, but I reported to my mother that we were out of luck.
So, she and I got to work and decorated the tree we were so quick to toss out the window.
The result was that we had the best tree we had ever had. Perfect in shape, lighting, ornament placement, and just the right amount of tinsel.
The Ghosts of Christmas Past has so many glorious tales to tell if we can only take the time to remember.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I’ll be back before Christmas.