I’m not much of a holiday person. I don’t dress up for Halloween (too much effort, and I’m not that creative or crafty); I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving (colonization and genocide? no thanks. Same goes for Columbus Day) although I do always end up eating copious amounts of starchy foods (mm mashed potatoes); and I’m not religious so Christmas is just about secret gift exchanges and family get-togethers, minus the decorations.
This was definitely not the case when I was a kid. American public elementary schools are all about American holidays and this enthusiasm manifests in classroom arts and crafts. It’s funny to think about the weird cultural and informational exchanges that happened because of the things my sisters and I brought home from school. Like, colored in pumpkin drawings and turkeys made from the outline of my hand. And of course there was the occasional dreidel (I remember that Hanukkah appealed to me so much because of the whole 8 day celebration–aka more presents–thing). These were the things that characterized American culture for my elementary school self (well that, and Lisa Frank and PBS shows). Perhaps it would not have been so bad if my teachers didn’t have their students talk about what we were going to be for Halloween, or what we were going to ask of Santa for Christmas. And then, of course, this was coupled with the post-holiday exchange between kids where we compared Halloween treats and Christmas presents.
I wonder how all of this made my parents feel, having to establish traditions for the sake of their kids. How does it feel to enable assimilation into a culture that won’t ever really accept you? Not to mention the class factor. How did my parents afford to buy Christmas decorations? I’m sure they did it for us. Am I going to have to do this for my own kids (if I have any)?
After a certain point we stopped taking out the artificial tree and started putting presents under the piano bench instead. My dad is one of those people who keeps the lights up until June.
At least now, holidays are just about family time.