Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The first six months of grammar school – the early years -- comprised a slow, thrilling autumn crescendo that would culminate in the clash of cymbals known as Christmas break. We could feel the rumble of the kettle drums once the first brown and red tissue paper leaves hit the bulletin board.
After Halloween, more instruments would join, as we made unlikely and anatomically incorrect turkey cutouts by tracing a pattern around our palm and fingers. The thumb was the head, and after that it was really every turkey for himself. Only the class artists – the left-handed kids -- could make it look like anything other than a hand, so the rest of us tried other pursuits. Poetry, perhaps, with all its attendant license:
“On Thanksgiving Day/That’s when we all say/Hurray for the Mayflower, Nina, and Santa Maria/That’s why we are so free –Awww!”
“Thanksgiving Day is here/Roll out the Burgie and we’ll have some beer/And if you don’t have one too/It will be like a cow that can’t say moo.”
We played pilgrims; not the actual, dour, religious fanatics, of course. No, we knew only about the ones who wore tall construction-paper hats, fell in love with Indian maidens, and shared Jiffypop and cupcakes with their native brothers and sisters.
Thanksgiving kicked off a series of parties. Though predominantly a protestant school, we could all sing the Dreidel song, and Hanukah was next on the docket. With Christmas, though, would come a sense of melancholy followed by an endless stretch of months until summer finally arrived.
There would be little to look forward to in-between Christmas and summer -- just a sprinkling of holidays that included strange stories about little boys who cut down trees, and the mystery of why anyone would want to search for a hardboiled egg.