Well, now that we’re smack dab somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I guess it’s fitting if we talk about it, huh?
See, I am admittedly obsessed with holidays. Any holiday. Give me a holiday, I will overplan, overprep, overcraft, overbake. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, Arbor Day, heck, make up a day. So yes, I am planned and listed to the gills right about now. I am in hyper mode. I am making presents, ordering other presents, scoping out stores, wrapping, ribboning, candy making, baking, etc., etc. (Yes, you should start feeling sorry for all the people close to me in my life.)
But this has me thinking: Am I vintage in my holiday actions and plannings as well? Do I do things as they have been done for generations, just because that’s who I am? Do I make the inner Rosie the Riveter within me proud?
I’m not sure if the elder members of your family discuss holidays of their past. (I’m not sure what holidays you celebrate either, I just realized. How very unsympathetic of me. Feel free to switch out my “Christmas” word for whatever you need to, because I support all your religious differences and celebratory functions. Should you not celebrate holidays due to personal or religious views, well I hope you can laugh along anyway…or just check back in two weeks. Much love across the board.)
My relatives and I do discuss how holidays used to be, or how holidays are still the same. My great-grandmother, after whom I am named (and who passed away when I was a senior in high school, so I did know her fairly well), took Christmas to the extreme. Which, is to say, I live Christmas in her image. They (my mother, grandmother, etc.) tell me my great-grandmother never slept from Christmas Eve morning to late Christmas night. They all think this is overwhelming and frankly a little bonkers. I totally get where she was coming from. There is so much to do. Really, once there are kids in my picture, you may need to restrain me to force some shut eye upon me. Ohhhh, hold me.
I don’t know if there is a “vintage way” or a “retro way” to take up the holidays. Is tradition a personal matter here? I think perhaps. I don’t think it’s as cut and dry as, “We as a society don’t wear hats and gloves anymore blah-blah-blah fashion changes.” I think it’s more, “My mother and her mother and her mother always made ham with pineapples and cherries on Christmas, and therefore I do as well.” (For the record: we do not make ham with pineapples and cherries at my house, but it sounds rockin’ to me. Save me a taste, will ya?)
Of course, there are things that certainly seem no longer of our time period. I think of hostess aprons in Christmas patterns as something of the 50s and my closet. (Don’t mess with my apron collection.) I think we make different finger foods than we used to; I think this is a good thing. Fondue and deviled eggs still remain, however, a holiday-hungry person cannot survive off them alone.
Admittedly, gifting is different. We order off the internet. We make gigantic wish lists. We buy cheap, plastic, noisy toys (I will buy your child a cheap, plastic, noisy toy if given the opportunity). And Black Friday madness can ONLY be something of modern invention. I’m pretty sure the Christmas mornings I became accustomed to as a child would not have happened were I a bambino sixty years hence–as is often suggested I should have been.
And then there’s my particular facet of the holiday season: desserts. Don’t mess. The dessert table is mine to fill. I’m not sure how my foremothers would feel about my obsessive-compulsive, gluttonous over sweetness of the holidays.
Then again, I am a bake-from-scratch kind of girl. I like rolling out pie crusts. I like decorating cookies. I like making fillings from whole ingredients. That being said, I am often over-ambitious and wind up buying canned filling at the last minute, or reaching for the back up Pillsbury pie crusts.
Now this is something our retro holiday creators could not do. And while if it were up to me, I would recreate a Christmas village and give all of you a slice of pie and a chocolate, I don’t have that kind of time. Sometimes I am very thankful for shortcuts. I am slightly panicky to think of not being able to run to my supermarket for I-don’t-have-this-kind-of-time-it-is-December-23rd pie fixin’s. (I do untie my apron to go to the store, just FYI. Sometimes I don’t brush all the flour off thought—definitely by accident.)
Really, I don’t know what conclusion we can draw from all this. These are not the highlights of the holidays. I don’t think we’ll be able to find an answer. Ways we travel are different, being with families is not. Maybe making our meals is easier—not the mention the cleaning up with the invention of the dishwasher—but that doesn’t mean that we enjoy it any less. We dress different. The presents are different. The joy and sentiment ought to be the same though.