posts tagged with 'holiday'

oh Hanukkah

The holidays are layered thickly this time of year! Besides Advent and Solsticetide, it's also Hanukkah of course, and we've had a few chances to observe it so far... though not as many as I would have liked! We started the holiday off in fine fashion celebrating at Leah's parents' on Monday, the second night (not the first because Sunday was entirely taken up with opera practice). They put on a good party, with lots of great food, pre-bagged pennies for dreidel, a gelt hunt (once Amazon delivered the gelt halfway through the evening), and, of course, lots of presents for the boys! Sure, some of those presents preempted things we're giving them for Christmas in a few days, which is a mite annoying... but you can never have too many Legos or stuffed animals, right?!

Zion and Elijah at the menorah with Grandma

lighting with Grandma

Tuesday night we dined with friends, but Wednesday we were back home from the solstice party in time to light our menorah for the first time. We didn't have brisket or noodle kugel like on Monday, but you can bet there were latkes! And I downed my fair share despite still being stuffed from solstice gluttony; this was a whole new holiday!

our menorah with red and yellow candles on the table with latkes and sour cream

the essentials of the celebration


the turning of the year

One of the downsides to having an awesome group of friends is that you don't get to do everything exactly the way you want to. But that's more than balanced by the upside of getting to go to big parties other people organize! Like we did today for my favorite holiday, Winter Solstice. I was all set to welcome people to our house to celebrate around our beautiful fire pit, but a member of our Park Day group (and now co-op) is lucky enough to have a solstice birthday; so naturally her family got first dibs on making a party. And it was a great one! If for no other reason than Harvey getting to toast broccoli and cheese over the fire.

Harvey toasting broccoli and cheese on a stick over a fire

the latest delicacy

Because it was subbing in for Park Day, there were lots of people there: everybody already had the time blocked off on their schedule. Lots of food too, and some it was even healthy! Besides eating, the kids played in the woods or on the climbing structure (or talked in the woods or around the picnic tables, in the case of the older ones). There was karaoke; Harvey sang lots of songs, and I joined him for some Hamilton. And of course the fire was a big draw. Besides the broccoli, people roasted marshmallows, hot dogs, and chocolate, plus incinerating lots of leaves on the ends of the hot dog forks. And before the fire burned down too low I jumped over it, as tradition demands (twice actually, since some people missed it the first time and I crave attention).

So it's winter now... bring on the snow and ice!

Elijah playing with the fire in the dark

enjoying the blaze


Halloween report

In a lot of ways, Halloween yesterday was pretty relaxed. The boys all took responsibility for their own costumes and all we had to do was order requested parts (Leah's job) and help Elijah realize his vision for a sword with a handle made out of a bone (my job). They made their own jack-o-lanterns too, while I was on a work meeting. But there was a lot of partying we had to do, and lots of treats to digest! Unlike most years, we didn't invite folks to trick-or-treat with us and party afterwards; we accepted an invitation to a wonderful trick-or-treating neighborhood in Chelmsford. And also with other friends on the other side of Bedford. So there was a little bit of stress getting both of those in, especially since we didn't get back from the Halloween party at Backyard Farm Club in Lowell until after 4:30! Good thing we didn't need much supper, so the caroler and a couple of ninjas were ready to head out before it got dark.

the boys in front of the house in their costumes

quick, pose for a second before it's too dark

The Farm Club party was probably my favorite part of the day. All the more so for being unexpected: I thought we were just going to do get in there with some garden clean-up, but besides that we were treated to an amazing Halloween party complete with pigs in blankets and ants on logs and, most important, doughnuts on strings so we could race to see who could eat them fastest! I didn't win.

Zion and Elijah trying to eat donuts hanging from strings

harder than it looks

Then of course there was lots of candy to gather from a few doors in Bedford and lots more in Chelmsford. It was fun seeing the Bedford crew for a minute but we really enjoyed getting to visit a destination trick-or-treating location in Chelmsford. Lots of the homeowners were out in front of their houses with their candy—combined with all the families out in the streets it felt like a real festival. All our kids got more candy than they needed for sure. Halloween isn't my favorite holiday, but as far as it goes this one was pretty good!

the boys at a door trick-or-treating

I guess the dark is part of the appeal


the best day

This past Saturday was the most important day in the civic life of our town, the day which gives the town it's very name... or is it the other way round? In any case, it was Bedford Day, and we were very excited to wake up on Saturday morning and get ready to start the festivities (Elijah was actually counting down the days). Not everyone was as singularly focused, and I did have to do a little work on the porch reconstruction project—yes, it's still ongoing—before we could head up to the parade to meet our friends. No worries, we got there in plenty of time to get a good spot for the parade. And then of course the crowd of kids eager for candy pushed through the barricades to block most of our view, but hey, that's what Bedford Day is all about!

crowds of people in the street for the parade

the excitement is palpable

After the parade we headed over to the fair, where the first thing we did was park our bikes in the free bike parking coral and put on stickers letting the world know that we biked to Bedford Day. The tree we're accustomed to using as our home base during the fair was a little less peaceful than usual thanks to the kiddie train ride (new this year!) that stopped right by it, but we're creatures of habit so we didn't let that put us off. Plus it's convenient to the karate demonstration.

the karate demonstrators bowing to the crowd


The boys now have two good friends who wear the red jackets of the Callahan's Karate leadership team, so it was extra fun watching them go at it. Although Zion says the adults' pretend fighting gets less convincing every year. Callahan's is maybe the biggest of Bedford's youth-oriented institutions, so there was a lot of karate energy at the fair. Zion and Elijah each had the opportunity to break a board.

Elijah breaking a board, held by a karate teacher, with his hand


All that activity was balanced out by tons of calories from sugar. Besides all the parade candy we could pick up more from many of the booths. And there were a couple Evangelical churches there, always good for some treats. The line for the free cotton candy was too long for any of the boys, right up until they ran out, but Zion went back to the free shaved ice booth three times. I ate my share of candy, and Harvey and I also split a thing of samosas from Bedford Embraces Diversity and some cookies from the soccer bake sale. Plus we all had lunches from home!

Our fair energy stared to fade at about the same time as everyone else's; we weren't the absolute last to retrieve our bikes from the corral this year. But even then the thrills weren't done, because apparently Bedford Day fireworks are now a thing we do regularly. Yay! So after dinner we headed back up the hill to meet up with lots of friends. Not that you can really have much of a conversation over fireworks, but it was still nice to share the evening with so many great people from our town. The show was good too!

red fireworks



fourth of july

Since before Harvey was born, Fourth of July for us has meant the Picnic in the Park in Concord—and we've really missed it the last two years of pandemic restrictions! This year it was back, and we experienced it to the fullest.

Zion and Elijah eating blue cotton candy amidst the crowd

cotton candy is back!

Over the three-year gap since last time we went we stopped using the cargo bike, so I wondered briefly how we would get all the food and supplies for the day to Concord. As it happened it was no trouble at all with three strong kids who can carry their own bags. We shared the load out and, while mine was the heaviest with the tent, rug, and extra waters (and ice packs!) the boys did their share too. We rode in with friends, including a friend of Elijah's who did fantastic on the first "long ride" of his life.

We did all the fair things: listened to music and danced; bought cotton candy, popcorn, lemonade, and pie with ice cream; played on the playground; sprayed the firehose; and watched dogs catch frisbees. We also played Uno. And of course there were the field games!

Zion and Elijah near the finish line in a sack race with a bunch of other kids

hop to the finish and don't look back

We're a competitive bunch, so I'm happy to report we acquitted ourselves well. Zion won a sack race and a three-legged race (with me as partner), and Harvey and I came second in another three-legged heat. And Zion and his friend won three out of the five sponge toss rounds they entered (Harvey and I again came in second in a different round). And Elijah was happy with how well he did against the competition. He and his friend were amazing at the three-legged race, and would definitely have won a contest against people with similarly-sized legs who actually tied them together.

It wasn't a celebration of United States patriotism—I don't know how much we're feeling that these days. It was a celebration of summer, and local community, and friends, and it did that perfectly.

Elijah playing Uno with a friend on a picnic blanket, a little American flag alongside him

ok, there were some flags


Patriots Day

It's been a while since we got to celebrate Patriots Day properly. And I hadn't realized until I looked back at the records that in 2018 the parade was cancelled due to rain. So before this past weekend we'd only had one parade in the past four years! Thankfully everyone's given up on caring about Covid and the sun was shining merrily on Monday for us to finally get to enjoy another iteration of this timeless tradition. And enjoy it we did!

kids watching the parade approaching

just like old times (with the addition of a Ukranian flag)

Our Patriots Day fun actually started the weekend before, with Pole Capping. Then on Saturday we took in the reenactment at Tower Park, also something we've missed for two years. In all the excitement I forgot my camera in the car, and even though I said before that all the pictures of the event always turn out the same I still missed having it. The phone at least shows that we were there.

Elijah watching redcoats at Tower Park

the regulars are coming!

The parade is also something that always looks the same, though there were a couple little differences this time. We had even more friends to sit with—many of whom also biked from our house with us, which was a fun adventure on its own. And it was the longest parade ever. I guess everyone else was excited to be part of it too! All of it was delightful; we particularly enjoyed, variously, the blues band, brass bands, fife and drum corps, a pennyfarthing bicycle, a tiny horse and some big horses, Shriner mini-big-rigs and drift tricycles, kung fu artists with swords, and a real time-machine Delorean. And probably some other things I forgot. We also enjoyed fried dough, Italian ice, and candy. It was pretty cold, but at least it was sunny. Fun all around.

the kids sitting on a curb with friends waiting for the parade

they remember how to do it


pole capping returns

The Pole Capping Parade is a Bedford tradition, but we haven't been able to do one since 2019. Well, case numbers may be rising again but never mind, Patriots Day observations are back on! And the threat of rain didn't deter a few loyal and hardy Bedfordites from turning out this past Saturday to take in the excitement.

Zion, Elijah, and friends watching the pole capping among costumed reenactors

big kids paying attention

We met friends at the green and had a joyful time running around and grading the costumes of the various units (the Piscataqua Rangers looked very fine in their new teal uniforms). Then we covered our ears for the shooting along the parade route (but not for the excellent fifing). New this year, we watched the whole of the Pole Capping presentation—despite the steady rain that started midway through the parade. These kids are big now, and don't have any trouble sitting through speeches! In fact, in our post-event roundup they all thought that Select Board member Emily Mitchell's was particularly good (I also enjoyed the poem by town historian Sharon McDonald—too few events feature original poetry these days). The sun was shining again by the time things wrapped up.

a man waving to the crowd from on top of the libery pole

he didn't have to climb in the rain

Afterwards we went to the playground for a while, and then were disappointed that the traditional library book sale has not returned. We were so sure it would happen that we brought our money into the library and everything! It turns out that it's still a couple week away. So there's that to look forward too, and in the meantime a lot more Patriots Day fun to come next weekend!

drums and feet of the William Diamond Fife and Drums



hanukkah this year

This year Hanukkah is about as early as it can ever be, with the first night falling back on Sunday the 28th. With so long to go til Christmas, that means we have plenty of energy to celebrate it! We've lit candles almost every night, I've made lots of latkes, and we've done lots of dreidel. And that's all before our big gathering with Leah's parents tomorrow evening! We've also helped our friends learn about the holiday. On Wednesday we made latkes together, and this morning we painted our own dreidels and played a long competitive game (plus a special bonus game of battle tops). No presents at our house, though; with all that we do for Christmas it would be a little much. But that's alright, presents aren't the main point to the holiday, anyway—the main point is lights burning for a long time! Which the candles on our menorah do, for sure; so long, in fact, that we've been moving the menorah up to the boys' room when they go to bed. It burns in their window like a self-extinguishing nightlight. Though with two more nights to go I think we may have to put an end to that practice; I dripped a lot of wax on the carpet carrying it upstairs this evening. Maybe we can just do one candle upstairs. Hanukkah may be almost over, but the bigger season of Light in the Darkness still has a way to go!


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


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


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