Guest post by Suzann Darnall
Tomorrow is Saint Patrick’s Day. It is a cultural and religious celebration surrounding the patron saint of Ireland. However, it is not just an Irish holiday. It is celebrated in many parts of the world. And, it has, most assuredly, become an American tradition for many citizens and numerous communities.
It is one of the many holidays that I like to acknowledge. Not for any religious purposes, but just ‘cause it is part of our past and a fun portion of our present. I like holidays. I like to make note of their passing through my day, my week, my month, my year.
Depending on the holiday, my efforts in acknowledging it go from small to huge. While there are literally hundreds and perhaps even thousands of “holidays”, from National Donut Day to Christmas, I choose to usually stick with the most traditional that I grew up celebrating.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day generally get lost in the shuffle and hoopla of Christmas. Not much in the way of special decorations, meals, or festivities. We usually stay home on New Year’s Eve and spend New Year’s Day watching sports. Food is usually simple to make and easy to eat. Sandwiches, finger foods, snacks, and desserts. But, I do have a couple of computer generated stationery designs I made for use around the first of the year and I usually decorate my table with a set of wooden “firecrackers” that I made during a Pinterest craft day with my daughter.
Valentine’s Day is a favorite. I admit to being a bit of a romantic. I have window clings, computer generated stationeries, and a supply of Valentine’s Day card on hand. I use red, white, and pink table linens through just about the entire month. I change my table decorations more than once ‘cause I have lots of options to express love and romance. I like to let my husband know he is loved and cherished. Usually to a red, white, and pink dinner. Once in awhile, we do a Valentine date night.
St. Patty’s Day is fun, but rather low-key. I have stationeries and table decorations. When my grandchildren were living with me I did St. Patrick’s Day treats on the table for morning and left leprechaun footprints going across the kitchen floor and out the window.
Easter is a biggie! Mostly ‘cause it is a holy day for me. Christ the Lord is risen! But, while I try to keep Christ at the center, I do also acknowledge the fun aspect of the Easter bunny. I have an enormous collection of Easter decorations, mostly bunnies, baskets, and eggs, that get put all around the living room. There are several pages of window clings and lots of Easter stationeries. Usually do a special Easter Sunday feast, too. At some point in the season we generally try to have a family get-together and I provide cascarones (confetti filled eggs) for the grandkids (and those adults wishing to also play) to have the closest thing to a snowball fight we usually get this far south in Texas.
Independence Day is also special. I even have a few movies that go with this one. I go all out patriotic. Red, white, and blue on the tables. Wooden fireworks, eagles, and the like are my tablescape preferences for the month. Being raised as an Air Force brat and then becoming an Air Force Wife, patriotic is sort of an ingrained way of life. I always say my blood runs red (for my American Indian ancestry), white (for my European ancestry), and blue (‘cause I spent most of my life following the Air Force across the country and around the world)!
Then, there is Halloween! One of our family favorites. It has always been a special holiday in my family, but it has taken on a life of its own since Pete and I had children and now grandchildren. We have the equivalent of a walk-in-closet-size space in our shed filled with Halloween decorations. We do a “haunted house” each year for the family to attend. It has a theme every year that we keep secret and mostly takes place outdoors. Our daughters usually do the food. We start with a maze (sort of a pumpkin version of an egg hunt), then do dinner, visit the “haunted house”, have dessert, and sometimes end the evening playing games or just visiting.
Next is Thanksgiving. Most definitely one of the big three for our gang. For us, it is rather sacred, patriotic, and very much about family. We love a big turkey feast and spending time together. Sometimes it is at our home and sometimes at our daughter’s place. Occasionally we cannot all be together, but it is still a special day. And, let us not forget the football games!!! Family, food, and football. Can it get more all-American than that???
Finally, there is Christmas. The holy-day of holidays, for sure. My heart is filled just thinking about it. The birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. A time to remember Him. A time to rejoice. A time for family. Again, we like to do the whole family feast if it is possible. We usually have a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day gathering. Usually do a family gift exchange somewhere along the way. Christmas Eve food is most often of the Mexican variety. A family tradition that got started after we moved to Texas. Christmas Day almost always involves a turkey and sometimes a ham is added in as well. I have almost as many decorations for Christmas as I do for Halloween. Cards, computer stationeries, window clings, and table linens enough to last the entire month. Quite the to-do. I love it! And, yes, I thoroughly enjoy the Santa Claus and Christmas tree parts of the celebration just fine.
While there are other holidays and celebrations, these are the ones that most often stir my emotions and cause me to break out the decorations. Most of them make me think of family. I celebrate most of them with family. Whether it is just my husband or my children and grandchildren are involved, holidays for me are mostly about my loved ones. It is about making the people I love feel special and know that I care for them. That I want to celebrate them. And, sometimes, an easy way to do that is by celebrating what are, for me, American holidays. ‘Cause I think each of these holidays is a very American holiday for many of our nation’s citizens. Mostly since we have taken these holidays, as well as many others, and given them our own kinda twist.
Most of America seems to be a land of people looking ways to celebrate life. Many of the people I know look for ways to make each and every day a little bit special. We are willing to take a lil bit from various cultures that are part of America’s history, mix them together, and come up with something that ofttimes becomes an American or family tradition. Holidays may be one of the most interesting melting pot aspects of our country and our society.
I know I enjoy it! Just as I will enjoy St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow. Might even watch John Wayne’s “The Quiet Man” . . . one more time! America really is much more inclusive than some people might try to make you think it is. Just look at our calendar.