How can it be December already?
It was carved pumpkins, then pumpkin pie, and now we are readying for Christmas trees, dreidels, and multi-color candles.
December brings one of my favorite memories with it. When my daughter was little, no more than four, and attending nursery school, songs of the season were a big deal and one of her favorite school activities. “Dreidel, dreidel, dreidal, I made it out of clay…” became a standard in our house even though we are not Jewish. But my favorite memory from this time is when she asked, “Can I have a dreidal for Christmas?” It was so wonderful, and was a hit with several of my Jewish friends from work.
All the mixings of my life have been wonderful, and that is what I try to hang on to at this time of year.
No matter whether we are preparing for marvelous gatherings for the Holidays or settling in for enjoying the memories of Christmases past, we can make the the most of the upcoming season. It is difficult for many, but it can be done.
Sometimes I focus on an orthogonal element of my family’ history when I become too sad over times and people gone into history. What do I mean by this? Though Sojourner Truth is not in my family tree, I often think of her at Christmas-time.
Christmas was one of the times my father would expound upon family history and the homestead at Hill Lake, north of the town of Silver Lake, in Kosciusko County, Indiana (Yes, that same Kosciusco County as in American Gods,) and stories about my great, great, grandfather John M. Hill and his multiple army enlistments, his wounding in service of the Union Army, and his participation in the Battle of Gettysberg were often subjects recounted. Stories from the 1800s seemed nuanced and real even though my dad, born in 1915, heard them second hand.
I was born in Indiana where my family had lived since the 1840s. By the time the divisions over abolition of slavery were headed toward war, in the late 1850s, Indiana was four decades into the ban of new slavery as the freeing of all slaves had been accomplished in 1820, four years after being granted statehood.
The Boston Liberator reported on October 15, 1858: “At her third appointed meeting in this vicinity, which was held in the meeting-house of the United Brethren, a large number of Democrats and other pro-slavery persons were present.”
This vicinity was Northeastern Indiana. The United Brethren meeting house was in Silverlake, Indiana. This group became EUB which was the church of my father’s family.
I always envisioned my family being in the supportive audience there, the progressive community which Republican at the time, that had invited her to speak during her anti-slavery tour. My father was quite politically progressive, it appears that this tendency could be traced back several generations.
Christmas, “Ain’t I a woman,” family stories, and political history; my holiday memories contain it all. What are your unlikely holiday associations?