posts tagged with 'holiday'

Halloween

Halloween this year was wonderfully celebratory: just like a real holiday! It's because it fell on a Sunday so we were able to devote the whole day to a series of varied observations. We started at church. Last year in the pandemic we did a church thing on Halloween (on a Saturday) because it was a chance to gather together outdoors. This year lots of us are meeting indoors but not all, so we thought we'd do it again! The kids all had the opportunity to wear their costumes to Kids Church, then we did trick-or-treating and photo-ops out in the parking lots.

me and the boys posing in our halloween costumes

church halloween photo op

As you can see, we were a warlike bunch! (well, I was actually a peaceful farmer—as Elijah pointed out I picked that costume so I could just wear my regular clothes!—but I couldn't help but get into the spirit for the photo). Zion was a ninja for the fourth year in a row and Elijah joined him in that brotherhood of the night; though as you can see Elijah had a little more liberal interpretation of the canon. Harvey was a ranger again, this time with a bow instead of a sword. As you can see he's in middle school which means he likes to make his costumes exclusively from things he already has (his high-school friend went as a wizard dressed as a muggle, which if you know Harry Potter you can see took even LESS effort!). The younger boys made new swords and masks for the event at least.

Then we had some time for resting—and for Zion to renew his hair dye—before the main event that evening. For trick-or-treating we were joined by four more kids, three of whom were ninjas. The fourth was a katana, which was significantly more original while not departing at all from the theme. The trick-or-treating was a joy, with excitement high on the streets after a gap of two years. Everybody got lots of candy.

the boys and friends posing in the street before trick-or-treating

mostly ninjas

Then we went home to gather around the fire with a few more folks who had trick-or-treated in their own neighborhood. I made hot cider, and the kids ran traded candy and ran around. We didn't stay up super late: it was school night, so by eight everyone was about ready to head home. But even with that prompt finish, the day was well celebrated.

the boys and friends sorting their candy at the picnic table

the reason for the season

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Bedford Day returns!

Bedford Day was cancelled in 2020 thanks to the pandemic. So was Pole Capping, Fourth of July, and Halloween. Then we also missed Pole Capping and Fourth of July in 2021. So let me tell you, there was some excitement for Bedford Day 2021! It happened this past weekend, and it was spectacular.

Zion watching fireworks

boom!

I don't know if there were more people out than the last time we celebrated as a town, but enthusiasm certainly felt higher as we arrived at the center of town for the parade Saturday morning. We met the same friends as last time—well, mostly, since in the intervening years all the kids have gotten older so some of them are now marching with karate or soccer. So we waved at them. There was a little less candy-throwing than past years but still plenty, lots of which—again—failed to reach the barricades along the side of the street. We didn't let our kids crawl under, but they still managed to get enough to kick off their sugar rush.

the boys and friends watching the boys scout float go by

local color in full flower

Zion, Elijah, and some other kids scrambling for candy at the parade

their instincs kick in

Not that they needed much parade candy, because the fair following the parade was full of sugary treats. Elijah was possessed by the idea of cotton candy so the first thing we did was wait in a long line to get some at $3 a shot (Zion too; Harvey chose a much shorter line for pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream). We felt a little sheepish later when we found another booth with free cotton candy, but that just meant the kids got another hit. We also enjoyed snow cones (free), popcorn ($2), and homemade chocolate chip blondies ($1: much the best deal). Plus we even found time to eat the lunches we brought!

Elijah with a big pink cotton candy

he's been waiting for this for two years

Zion's two best friends were in the karate demonstration this year, so it was extra fun to watch. And there were balloons to play with, and fire trucks to tour, and the library book sale. Elijah got face paint. Then everything started closing down and we went home.

Zion, Elijah, and a friend sitting on little steps eating snowcones

everybody starting to wind down

But unlike past years, that wasn't the end of the festivities! In Bedford we have Fourth of July fireworks only every five years, and we missed our shot in 2020. Never mind, leftover fireworks are much better in September, when the show can start at 7:30! We rejoined our friends—they brought glow sticks!—and the kids ran and played until the sky lit up with the most amazing fireworks display I've seen for at least two years.

more fireworks

now that's a celebration

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not much of a holiday

In the past, Patriots Day has a been a big deal for us. Parades! Battles! Last year, of course, all the observances were cancelled, but we were still excited to follow along online. Then along came the second Patriots Day of the pandemic, and we put our trash out like it was any other Monday. What holiday?

Actually, while that is technically true, we didn't forget about the day completely. We watched the reenactment in the morning—the same reenactment we watched last year, since they haven't filmed any newer ones (does that make it a re-reenactment?). And Elijah wore a tricorn and carried a gun all morning. But it was hard to feel like it was any kind of a holiday. We even did school! Of course, in keeping with the day it was solidly Patriotic. Our poem for the day was Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride" and we started an overview unit on the American Revolution. The boys have research projects they're working on on Revolutionary topics of their choosing. Which is fun and all, but it can't really compete with a parade. Next year back to normal?

Holy Week and Easter week

We've had some times over the last couple weeks. Way back on the Thursday before Easter Leah asked me how I was doing; drowning in late-night work editing Holy Week videos I had only one answer: "This is my body, broken for you." Of course that was a little over-dramatic, but that was how I felt. We did some good work to make Holy Week a meaningful experience even in the pandemic, but it was hard work! Then on Friday before Easter something happened in our bubble school that caused an emotional blowup and ended the group for the foreseeable future. That was obviously tough: getting to see those wonderful people has been super important for us over the past few months (just look back at the pictures I've posted!). I still think they're wonderful and we'll still get to see them, but missing the regularity and consistency of school is hard.

an Easter egg in the lawn

this one looks findable

Even with that stress Easter itself was lovely. We had an egg hunt; Harvey found the golden egg, which only had one dollar in it because Leah doesn't deal with cash (and she didn't ask me). He really only wanted it for the glory, anyways, so he gave the dollar to Elijah who appreciates it more. We were able to have a few friends join us, which made the day feel more festive than last year, and also meant there was enough food to make everyone sick. Sick in a good, holiday way of course! Then over the past week we tried to figure out what a school-less schedule looks like, with mixed results. There were some good days, but they were not days that left me with time to write. We're still working on it this week. I'm meant to not be staying up late, but if I don't blog in over a week I start to get twitchy. So here we are.

it's Passover!

On Saturday, the first thing Elijah said after he got out of bed was, "It's Passover!" He wasn't the only one to be excited: I jumped right into the spirit of the holiday with a breakfast of scrambled eggs and matzo with jam. Then Harvey told us both that, actually Passover didn't start til Saturday at sundown. Oh yeah. Well, that's alright: it's a longish holiday anyhow, so an extra day probably won't signify.

We're not Jewish (that might jeopardize our careers in the Christian writing and pastoring field). But we all think that Passover is an important holiday to observe. As Leah says, it's the only holiday commanded in the Bible! Plus there's all the good food. Last year we did a Zoom seder with Leah's parents—our first experience of Zoom holiday celebrations. But they weren't feeling it this year, so we were on our own. Which means there were no haggadahs or anything, and also that our meal on the first night of Passover took 20 minutes rather than an hour and a half (if you think that's short, it's at least twice as long as our usual dinner times). Leah made all the food: haroset, eggs, and matzo ball soup; plus chocolate caramel matzo for dessert. It was a delightful, relaxed way to observe the holiday.

the boys sitting down to the Passover table

festive meal

happy birthday Dr King

Today is Martin Luther King Jr's birthday. We studied his life this week, and today in Bubble School the kids each gave their reports. (I freely acknowledge the potential pitfalls in doing Black history with a bunch of white kids, but I think trying is still better than the alternative—and anyways, at this point 1/3 of our school population is 1/2 non-white, so there!) Our discussion was sensitive and nuanced. We talked about the considerable role Dr King played in the Civil Rights movement and also about the fact that there were others, less famous, who played roles that were just as significant. We talked about the importance of non-violent protest, and also thought about situations where violence is necessary for tactical or emotional reasons. And we celebrated that there is a Martin Luther King Day holiday, while also all agreeing that we have a ways to go, both as a country and as individuals, before Dr King's dream can come true.

Without libraries the research was more challenging than it might have been—like everything in this pandemic. But our group found a way to make it happen, using a combination of web sites (mainly Wikipedia), audio books from Audible and LeVar Burton's Skybrary, documentary films, and audio of Dr King's speeches. Plus the diversity of sources gave us a chance to talk about historiography, and why you might want to seek out a variety of accounts about any one person or event.

Martin Luther King Day is Monday, of course. We're not taking school off that day, though; we're honoring Dr King's memory by meeting, talking about his legacy and the road ahead, and eating a cake to celebrate his birthday. We're looking forward to it!

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marking the day when time has no meaning

New Years feels kind of strange this year; Thanksgiving and Christmas were both so low-key, and we very well may have let New Years Eve pass by entirely unremarked. Sure, we're glad to see the back of 2020, but as Leah remarked this morning when we were talking about resolutions, "why bother trying to do anything different these days?" Tomorrow will be much like today, I imagine. But one of our friends asked yesterday if we wanted to do something like a hike, and another friend said they weren't around until the evening and suggested a fire. So in the event, we had a pretty good party! I made pizza, friends brought cookies and hot cider, and for a couple hours we sat around the fire (at an appropriate distance, of course) and chatted about New Years hopes and movies and water heaters. Some of the time the kids played laser tag. It actually compared pretty favorably to some other New Years observations I've taken part in: there's no mess inside the house to deal with, and I didn't drink so my upset stomach is due only to overconsumption of pizza and cookies plus s'mores, eggnog, and maybe a bit too much cider. So now I'm ready for a new year. Here's hoping it's a better one!

the first December celebration

We celebrated the first night of Hanukah this evening, and it was as delightful as it could be under the circumstances! Leah's parents are determined to make the holiday just as thrilling as it would be if we were observing it with them at their house, so they packaged up bags of presents to cover all eight nights. Leah drove over their to drop off the gifts for them and pick all that up, and Harvey and Zion came along so they could take a walk with Grandma and Grandpa. Then when they got home we did the candle-lighting and present-opening over Zoom. It was great, except for our singing of the blessing... it's always a little shaky as everyone waits for everyone else, and you can imagine how much worse that was with the Zoom delay. But we got through it! And all three boys were delighted with their presents—talking hamster doll, ball maze, and metal detector respectively (it seems like there should be some way to combine those three and try to take over the world...).

Leah did most of the prep on our family's end—for the rest of us December 10th was a little early in the month to be ready for anything! But she was on top of it. Zion did have time to make a beautiful card, and Harvey outdid himself with the creation of a beautiful little model guitar for Grandpa. I helped him some, but the idea and the drive to make it happen was all his. It came out great; I hope it inspires him to try some more miniature woodworking!

There's lots more Hanukah to come—we've got the link for seven more evenings of Zoom meetings. And then when it's done there's only a week until Christmas. Yikes! All the celebrating sure is stressful!

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our Thanksgiving day

We celebrated Thanksgiving just the five of us, and it was nice. Originally we were going to get together with Leah's parents and brother to exchange food and take a walk, but due to the rain we postponed that until tomorrow. While it would have been great to see them, I think I'm glad things ended up the way they did, because it was actually really lovely to have a quiet cozy day at home in the rain, reading, playing cards, and slowly but steadily making food. And we made some food!

food on our table

a feast!

Leah took charge of the turkey. I made sides: mashed potatoes, green beans, gravy, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. I also made a pumpkin pie, but then when it came time for the boys to add their own contributions it turned out they all wanted to do desserts too. Harvey made an apple crisp and Lijah folded some pieces of Hershey chocolate in Pillsbury crescent roll dough to make some quite delicious chocolate croissants. Zion... caused ice cream to be purchased? Does that count? We all ate very well.

I was especially happy with the stuffing. It was the recipe my mom has used all my life (and probably long previous!), which I don't think I've ever attempted before. Why would I? I've always had the real thing available! My attempt came out a little different but just as delicious, and since only Harvey and I wanted any there's plenty left over. Actually, there's plenty of everything left over: with that spread, we couldn't even finish off the veggies and dip! And there will be more food coming tomorrow. Yikes! Good thing the rain's over so we can get some exercise.

We talked a little about what we're thankful for this year. Mostly surviving covid and enjoying some new opportunities in this strange pandemic world. Zooms with far-away friends and bubble school for the most part, but Thanksgiving around our own table came in for a little love too. I hope and trust we won't have to do it this way again... but maybe we'll want to, every once and a while.

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this Fourth of July

This past week we spent some time practicing music for a patriotic singalong that they recorded Thursday with Grandpa. He wrote an arrangement and sent us the accompaniment track, and the boys worked hard fitting the songs they knew into the medley and learning some new ones. It was fun, but it also felt a little strange—inappropriate, even—to be belting out "Colombia the Gem of the Ocean" just a week after celebrating the fall of the Colombus statue in Boston. Overall Independence Day has a strange feel this year: the red, white, and blue has maybe a little bit of a different meaning.

To be honest, I'd be happier to fly a black flag, or a red one, or rainbow. Right now at least when I someone displays an American flag I can't help but see it as possibly a statement against Black lives or LGBT rights. Those "thin blue line" flags that are all over sure don't help. Which is too bad! Because while I'm not really into the idea of the United States as a national identity, I do happen to have a lot of neighbors who live in the US... and theoretically it's nice to signal that we've all got something in common and can care about each other. As we celebrate the Fourth of July this year—socially distanced, of course—that's what I'll be thinking about as I sing about the red, white and blue.