Day Nine: Nuggets of Nostalgia


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            One
of the best parts of the holidays is getting a chance to remember back to when
our lives were simple, or at least back to when we were blissfully naïve enough
to think so.  There isn’t a day
between Thanksgiving and Christmas when a television commercial, a song on the
radio, or a silly comment made by one of my students doesn’t remind me of the
good ole’ days, when naps were not just recommended, but required; onesie
pajamas were perfectly acceptable sleepwear, rather than fodder for numerous
Facebook jokes about flaps in strange places; and the idea of a strange old man
creeping into our bedrooms and stuffing our hosiery brought joy instead of the
desire to acquire a permit for pepper spray.

            Despite
being slightly tone-deaf and entirely talentless, one of my favorite holiday
traditions growing up was the school Christmas concert.  And, yes, back then it was called a
Christmas concert, and we sang songs about Santa and Christmas, and wore
handmade paper Santa hats, and no one was permanently scarred for life by
it.  I remember singing about
“gettin’ nuttin’ for Christmas” and the pure joy my little
goody-two-shoes self had imagining actually doing all the naughty deeds the
song described.  With all the
hypersensitivity about religion, not to mention the fear of exposing our
children to bad influences, I somehow doubt my future kids will share this
experience.  That makes me sad;
although, if I pass along my singing prowess, perhaps it’s best for everyone.

            Stripping
Santa and Christmas from schools will likely lead another bit of holiday
tradition to fall off the sleigh. 
Ugly Christmas sweaters have already left the realm of genuine festive
fashion to be seen now only as costumes at themed parties or worn for contests
where the ugliest sweater wins. 
But without elementary school teachers and their adorably dressed
students everywhere purchasing these festive fashions, future generations are
sure to run out of them.  Not being
big on dresses, I know I had a few sparkly holiday sweaters and puff-painted
sweatshirts in my day, that with my Little Orphan Annie perm and big toothy
grin could have won me hundreds in prizes, had we all known then what we know
now: holiday sweaters and big hair are funny, not fashionable.

            Dysfunction
is also funny, even funnier at the holidays when the stress and added
togetherness seems to heighten it. 
Which is why I have yet to let a Christmas season go by without watching
(usually multiple times) the most down-to-earth and humorous portrayal of
families at Christmas: The Christmas Story.  I know many families have traditions of
watching older classics, like
White Christmas or worse, It’s a Wonderful Life, but thankfully my family never made me suffer
through repeated viewings of suicidal-themed holiday films.  We related much better to the
daydreaming, f-bomb dropping, four-eyed geek whose parents weren’t perfect,
didn’t expect their children to be, and yet made the best of it.  I don’t remember when watching this
movie switched from just being fun to being tradition, but I do remember
sitting in our cramped den with my older brother and our neighbor more than
once during our high school and college days watching parts of the twenty-four
hour TNT marathon and reciting our favorite scenes, not bothering to reach for
the remote when it ended and then began again.

            It’s
funny, the things we long for from our pasts and the things in our current
lives that remind us of them.  I
miss Christmas concerts because of the joy music and signing always brought
me–before the days of try-outs and select choruses, back when no one cared if
you sang poorly, so long as you sang loudly and knew the words, back when the
only approval I needed was Dad or Gramma’s smiling face somewhere in the
audience.  I miss my jingle bell
necklaces and puff-painted sweatshirts because I’ve never had fashion sense,
but I’ve always had holiday spirit, and a mom who took the time to hand-make
those matching poinsettia sweatshirts so she and I could proudly show it
off.  And my need for a yearly dose
of Ralphy, in addition to taking me back to memory lane, which for me will
always mean Sunrise Ave., I know has more to do with missing easy afternoons
watching any old thing with my brother and my two ‘unrelated siblings’, my
first two best friends, than it does with a true desire to hear the horribly
unpolitically-correct Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra in one of the final scenes.  I’m old enough now to realize I was the
Randy to their Ralphs–I was the tagalong little sibling who cried too often,
could never keep up, but whom they (almost) never left behind. 

            So
thank you, Forever Lazy ads and the kid that gets Dominick the Donkey stuck in
my head after every third period, for reminding me, not only of some of the
best holidays I had, but of the people who made them great enough to miss.

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