Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holiday Memories


My son won a turkey at his middle school's Turkey Trot race this past week. He's not one to get overly excited about things, but he was pretty darn pleased that he'd won his own Thanksgiving turkey. I have no doubt that this accomplishment will stay with him for a long time to come. This is the stuff of which childhood memories are made.

When he arrived home after school, I listened eagerly to his rendition of the day's events: running in the pouring rain, breaking through the ribbon at the finish line, carrying his prize turkey home on the bus. As a writer, naturally my thoughts turned to how these events would play out in a Thanksgiving story.

Holiday stories have always been a favorite of mine, and for one simple reason: the setting is already there. The sights, sounds, smells, feels, and tastes are locked deep in the minds of the vast majority of readers. They already know the slimy feel of pumpkin guts, the heart-stopping boom of fireworks, the minty coolness of candy canes. With just a little nudge from the writer, the reader is transported into the rich world of his own memory. The story setting becomes that much more real, because it's formed from the reader's own experience.

Besides providing an idea for a future story, this event led me on a trip down memory lane and my own cherished holiday memories. I thought of the coconut-covered lamb cake that my grandmother baked each Easter, the excitement of finding a Secret Santa gift hidden under my pillow, and parading down the halls of my elementary school in a handmade Halloween costume. It reminded me of the importance of traditions, and that my children will carry with them the memory of our own family traditions for the rest of their lives.

Turkey Trot entrance fee: two canned goods. Turkey Trot prize turkey: $14. A treasured holiday memory: priceless.

Your turn: What is your favorite holiday memory?

Until next Sunday, happy writing, and may your coffee pot never run dry.


18 comments:

Tess said...

I remember falling asleep to the hum of my mother's sewing machine on Christmas Eve. That machine ran all night long and, in the morning, I had a beautiful new doll with seven dresses (one for each day of the week).

Thanks for reminding me of this great memory, Susan :)

Susan Fields said...

What a lovely memory, Tess. My mother used to sew clothes for my dolls, too. They were such a treasure. Thanks for sharing!

Sharon Mayhew said...

Ahh Tess, what a sweet memory.

WTG Kevin!

I hope you did a good job cooking the turkey, Susan.

This Thanksgiving was one to remember. My half-sister from England came. It was our first time to see each other without the watchful eyes of her/my parents. We had a great time. We had friends over twice whle she was here too. We indoctrinated her with Stephanie Meyers...She inturn did the same to us with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Susan Fields said...

Sounds like you made some great holiday memories this year, Sharon. I'm glad you had a nice visit with your sister. Did she go back to England already?

Sharon Mayhew said...

She went back to NY on Sunday night. She is going to Cornell.

Susan Fields said...

Oh, yeah, I remember you said that before. Sounds like a trip to NY might be in order...

Sharon Mayhew said...

Yep, she knows the city quite well, it seems.

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

I remember sitting at the kids' table in the kitchen of my grandma's house. With six brother & sisters, we couldn't all fit at the same table, and the kids' table was more fun anyway. No one to yell at you for piling your plate with cranberry sauce, rolls and olives.

I still try to sit at the kids' table.

Velva said...

Our family is quite large and during the holidays most of us will come together to enjoy the holiday together. This includes a very large White Elephant game that always brings laughter that brings tears to your eyes. I love it!

Susan Fields said...

Amy, I remember the kids' table. We had sixteen cousins on one side of the family and fourteen on the other, so we had several kids' tables. I was too young to remember it, but we have a picture from one family gathering with a bunch of us lined up along the wall in our high chairs. That picture always makes me laugh. And I can see you still sitting at the kids' table - I'm sure the kids all save you a seat!

Susan Fields said...

Velva, I've never heard of a White Elephant game. Is it a board game? I'm a gameaholic, so I'm always looking for new games (and I'm sure the rest of my family wishes I'd find some new ones, too!)

waytenmom said...

Hello Sue! It is so late I am struggling to think of holiday memories; I'd rather be counting sheep! Maybe you are just starting your night shift of writing. Well, here goes. I just moved (physically) to a different office. I have been at the same desk for 11 years. Because my desk is situated differently, a coworker today mentioned a little blue glass bird that has always sat on my desk, but I guess sort of out of the way. I was telling her how Tenley's school in kindergarten did a "Christmas village" where the kids could buy items affordably -- like for fifty cents, etc. The day I picked Tenley up from after school after she had shopped @ Christmas village, she could not WAIT for me to open the little blue glass bird. She was so proud to have chosen something for herself. Wayne HATES opening anything before the technical day being celebrated but I'm more of an "instant gratification" type of girl. It was such a sweet moment, and the little blue glass bird is so simple yet elegant -- a nice reminder of those elementary school days when I am now usually looking at a closed door, ears jammed with ipod buds, or a bit of teenage surliness. Nice post!!

Susan Fields said...

Great memory, Paula! Aren't those hand-picked gifts from the kids a treasure? I have a little mommy dog and puppy statuette that Jillian bought me at Hallmark for Mother's Day one year using her own money. She was so proud, and it's been displayed in the living room ever since. Thanks for sharing!

arlee bird said...

As far as Christmas, I can't ever remember one that was bad-- there are so many wonderful memories of all of my Christmases past. Same with Thanksgiving which was always one of my favorite holidays. I especially recall those years from when I was about 10 to 14 years old. I would awaken to the smells from the kitchen as my mother would be starting cooking the meal for later that day. I would watch the Macy's parade on television in the morning. Later in the morning my mother would fix oyster stew for my father and I. She always made oyster dressing for the turkey but would get extra oysters for our morning stew.

The meal was always fantastic. It was just my parents and my sister and I and my younger twin brother and sister. No other relatives lived near us.

After dinner, sated and happy, I would often go to my room and work on my stamp collection (do kids collect stamps anymore). It was a great peaceful time.

That night I would go back for a turkey sandwich on white bread with mayo and sweet pickles-- almost as good as the dinner.

Great times!
Lee
http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/

Susan Fields said...

Beautiful memories, Lee - thanks for sharing! I've never had oyster stew, but it sounds delicious. My favorite holiday foods were cream pies (coconut, banana, or lemon meringue.) My mom only made them at Thanksgiving or New Year's, but they were such a treat! Now I make at least one cream pie every holiday. They're a lot of work, but so worth it! And I don't know if kids collect stamps anymore or not. I'd like to think they do, but I'd have to guess TV and computers take up too much of their time these days.
Thanks for visiting my blog!

arlee bird said...

You showed up on my followers list okay. Thank you. I've added my name to your list as well. Looks like you've just started yours and with a good number of followers. Good luck with it.Hope Sharon shows up on my list someday -- sometimes wierd things happen in the etherworld.

Your Mom's pies sound great. The pie was one tradition I don't know why my mother kept. She always made one pumpkin and one mince meat and hardly anybody seemed to like them very much--those pies would linger for days.
My father (we used to jokingly call him the "human garbage can") would eat them and I would help him with a few slices since I eat just about anything and hate to see food go to waste. I think the cream pies would have gone much faster.
Lee

Sharon Mayhew said...

Katherine insists on having our special pumpkin chocolate carmel delight pie for Thanksgiving (we made up the recipe). I end up throwing most of it away, but it makes her happy.

Susan Fields said...

I was in charge of making pies this year (Thanksgiving dinner was at my sister's house). I tried to get away without making any pumpkin, but my daughter and nephew both insisted you HAVE to have pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. I ended up making two (I didn't realize the can of pumpkin made two pies when I bought it) and they both got eaten. Mincement I think would be a harder sell. Pumpkin chocolate caramel delight sounds pretty yummy, though.

Sharon, I'd recommend you just keep trying to become a follower on Lee's blog. When I tried to become a follower on Paula's, it just kept saying it added me but I never showed up on her list. Her friend told me to just keep trying, and after about four or five tries it did work.