I can’t help but wonder what the world would be like without the holidays.
I’m not an educated person on the exact origins of the “holiday season” — that time from November to January rampant with food, fun, celebration and a socially accepted reason to wish a stranger — ANY stranger! — a Happy [insert holiday name here] whether they’re checking you out at the grocery store or passing you by on the street.
Sure — Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are celebrations with roots in mostly Western culture. But the real meaning of the holidays — and the occasions and events they create in order to celebrate them — have roots in the meaning of life itself: to spend time with others in a compassionate, caring and joyful way.
No matter what you’re celebrating [or already have celebrated!], give yourself the greatest gift of all — that of living in the present, and the resulting joy felt in even the smallest of these conscious moments.
To me, a vintage holiday is not setting a traditional meal on the table and saying grace while wearing your season’s best. In 2010, a vintage holiday is stopping to smell the roses [in this case, the poinsettias] in order to truly embrace the holiday for its universal message in the strength of family, friends and feeling thankful for an abundant life.
Find the vintage meaning in your holiday by following some of my suggestions below. From spending time with Grandparents to simply enjoying a glass of egg nog because you can, you just might discover you’ve been living a traditional “time of the year” every year and every time … or, you may be inspired to find time to make more time for the simple & sweet satisfaction a few tweaks to your holiday can bring.
Be present in the moment this holiday season, and you will be rewarded with the greatest gift of all: recognition that no matter the “time of the year,” each day of living surrounded by loving friends and family is a gift itself.
Happy holidays from Sammy Davis Vintage!
VINTAGE MOMENT #1: Watch a Classic Holiday Movie
Without fail, every holiday growing up my brother and I would watch “The Snowman,” an animated film from 1982 based on the children’s book of the same title by Raymond Briggs.
While not a “classic” holiday movie like “It’s A Wonderful Life,” the movie possesses memories that are near and dear to my heart because they remind me of time spent with my younger brother as a child.
No matter the cinematic equivalent — or musical one, at that! — recall what holiday entertainment brought your family together, and rekindle that flame by re-introducing the tradition this season. And if you need a little inspiration from “The Snowman” on the beauty of the season, watch this clip below for my favorite scene!
VINTAGE MOMENT #2: Ask Your Grandparents to Share Favorite Holiday Memories
My grandmother asked for the same thing every Christmas: a new pair of ice skates.
She was from a larger family, not to mention the fact it was the 1930s and children didn’t write “lists” to Santa … they received a gift — THE gift — that they wanted most that holiday season. And for my grandmother, it was always a new pair of ice skates.
I love that story on so many levels — it shows that my grandmother was an athletically inclined woman [like me!] and it shows that she knew where to “invest” her holiday gift. Her growing feet would only fit each new pair of skates for so long. So when it came time to ask for a gift, ice skates were only holiday wish — and they had to be, or she wouldn’t be able to focus on her passion of ice skating if she didn’t have the tools to do so.
My grandmother was a strong woman, and she is inspiration in my life today. Part of this inspiration stems from the stories she tells me of her life and the hopes and dreams she had at my age. I’m grateful to know her history because through her experiences, I can begin to mold and shape mine into the life I love to live everyday.
So after you ask to “pass the bread” at the dinner table, ask another question related to the table’s favorite memories of the holiday, and direct it to those with more life experience than you. It’s the perfect way to give yourself the gift of inspiration, and to feel thanks for the opportunities you have today that your parents and grandparents were without in times of yesterday.
VINTAGE MOMENT #3: Include Handwritten Holiday Cards with Gifts
When was the last time you received a handwritten holiday card with your gift? Or rather … when was the last time YOU wrote one to include with a gift?
I write these words as if I were innocent of this holiday folly — but alas! I am also guilty of neglecting to include even a few loving words attached to a material gift. This year, I was gifted holiday cards by my step grandmother, and I saw it as a sign that I was due for some serious holiday card writing. And holiday card writing I did — not only scribing notes which would bring a smile to the faces of my family and friends, but which in the moment of writing, gave me pleasure because I was reflecting on how lucky I am to have SO many people to write cards to!
Recognize how full your life is by just brainstorming a list of individuals you’d want to write a holiday card to — whether attached to a gift or mailed — and you will begin to feel the gift of abundance, too … and inevitably, the gift of inspiration to return to the vintage act of writing holiday cards.
VINTAGE MOMENT #4: Pose for a Family Photo
I’ve recently recognized that I lack a “true” family photo with my new stepmom, my father and my brother. My stepmom has been a positive person in my life since she began dating my father and married him more than a year ago. This is our 4th Christmas celebration together, and we have yet to take a “family” photo!
Maybe it’s because Facebook, Flickr, iPhones and every other digital device or platform with a flash makes it so easy to not only take photos … but FORGET to take them at the utmost important moments.
Tonight, when I celebrate Christmas “Eve” Eve with my stepfamily, I plan on setting my camera timer and gathering the fam for that all-too-corny picture by the tree pose. I know it’ll be awkward tonight, but next year — we won’t help but laugh and love the memory that it represents.
VINTAGE MOMENT #5: Reminisce with Family Photo Albums
I’m sitting at a desk with a picture of my brother as a baby holding a ball in our backyard, wearing nothing but a diaper. I’m smiling because he’s such a chubby, smiley boy with a head full of long, blonde curls. In fact, he almost looks like a girl!
I’m sharing this moment with you because with a family photo album in hand at your holiday get together, you can share the anecdotes, stories, feelings, expressions, good times and bad with one another as inspired by the pictures pasted on the pages before you. I haven’t made a photo album since high school, but I know that every time I take it out, I’m left with a lot more fuzzy feelings than flicking through my recent photos on Facebook.
Because photo albums are in short supply for 2010, call up your family and ask them to bring an album they have stowed in the shelves at home. That way, everyone from Aunt Sherrie to cousin Freddy will want to be involved and share in the photographic fun.
VINTAGE MOMENT #6: Eat & Drink Too Much
Enjoying the “decadence” of the holiday is part of the holiday itself. We enjoy sweets and meats and lots of homestyle carbohydrates because those are the comfort foods that keep our body’s warm and hearts content in the dead of a cold and dark winter. Historically, once the short days of winter would set in, farmers would sleep at least 12 hours a night. It was their way of keeping strong in a season laden with germs and lacking energy-boosting sunlight.
So this holiday, follow the health advice of our ancestors: enjoy the abundance of good food. Rest because you can, and relax because you want (and deserve!) to.
VINTAGE MOMENT #7: ‘Ooh’ & ‘Aah’ Neighborhood Lights
My father is obsessed with Christmas lights. I thought the man lived through the energy crisis of the ’70s, but by the looks of my house growing up — completely strung out with blinking, multi-colored lights on everything from the mailbox to the giant evergreen tree in our backyard — apparently not.
Naturally, his obsession with decking out our house in all-things-electric made him susceptible to a competitive streak when it came to the lights-choosing of our neighbors. So when I was a teenager, we began to drive around the neighborhood admiring [ahem, “judging”] the decorative decor of the Jones’ next door.
One year we even printed out “awards” to place in people’s mailboxes — like “Best use of a Santa blowup doll” and “most classic light design.” The more tongue-in-cheek awards — where we were making fun more than finding flattery — we kept to ourselves in the car, our laughs echoing between the five seats as we explored the electric city that the Christmas holiday had created.
It’s a tradition I was hoping to inspire back to reality this year, but a bout of illness has kept me from finding much energy at night. Maybe tonight we will grab some hot chocolate and see who wins one of my favorite awards this year: “Most inspiring use of icicle lights.”
VINTAGE MOMENT #8: Drink Egg Nog
Just a few days ago, I had my first glass of egg nog — complete with sprinkles of cinnamon — in who knows how long. After guzzling the nog in just a few gulps, I have only one simple thing to share: It was absolutely delicious, and I’d gulp it all down again right now if I could.
It’s a simple tradition that’s become lost in the options of both “what to eat” and “what NOT to eat” this year. Especially with every media outlet reviewing the “tricks” of a holiday diet, it’s hard to bring yourself to down the fatty, eggy, milky deliciousness of this signature seasonal drink.
I’m a health nut, focusing on eating only “real” food and avoiding processed, unnatural options whenever possible. Part of being a health nut is also recognizing that the world has created “unnatural” options for you to enjoy in small quantities — like egg nog.
Enjoy the sweets of the holiday — whether it be egg nog or a piece of cherry pie — because you are privileged to live in a world with the talents and creative technologies to create epicurean enjoyment that most of this world will never have the opportunity to taste. In other words: be grateful for the gluttony! It’s a dining option only a small percentage of the human population ever has the option to seasonally enjoy.
VINTAGE MOMENT #9: Wear Holiday-Themed Attire
As I type this, I’m wearing one of my new favorite holiday treasures … a so-called “ugly” holiday sweater, decorated with stockings, bows, stars, hearts and even a plaid oven mitt. The sweater is as hilarious as it is ironically gorgeous and when worn any other day of the year, truly grotesque and gaudy.
But today is Christmas Eve Eve and I’m not worried about channeling any couture cool today. Nope, I’m ready to embrace all aspects of the season — including rockin’ my ugly sweater and enjoying my family’s passing comments on it’s “ugliness.”
Whether you want to wear Elf ears or a Santa hat … or just deck your outfit in green, red & white — don’t shy away from signature holiday style. All that matters is that it makes you feel good — and jolly!
VINTAGE MOMENT #10: Reflect on Those First Holiday Memories
One of my first holiday memories is of sitting on Santa Clause’s lap at the local department store. My brother was about 1 year old and I must have been 4 or 5 years old. I had a head full of curls and a mouth full of whatever-it-is-that-I-want-to-say. Knowing me, I probably asked for a Barbie Jeep that day [the best toy EVER!] along with anything Lego, fashion or art related. I guess you could say I liked to “rule” the road and lead creation of new infrastructure, too!
Other holiday memories that still ring true in my memory revolve around Christmas Day spent at my grandparent’s house. My entire family — from my mom’s side, to my Dad’s side … my uncle, aunt, cousins, great aunts/uncles/second cousins, etc. would gather round the fire to wine, dine and open gifts. Growing up, my cousin’s were some of my closest friends. I wanted to BE my older twin cousins, two girls about 5 years older than me. My cousin Ben, who is only two months younger than I, was my partner-in-crime when it came to “peeking” at the gifts to see how many we each had, hoping to discover the contents of those boxes before actually opening them.
I’m sure you have similar memories of the pure, childish ecstasy of the holiday — everything was so magical! So meaningful! So fun & exciting!
Bring back those feelings of unadulterated joy by simply … remembering them. You’ll smile on the inside knowing that you had a childhood marked with happiness, and that your children now or children of the future will also express the bliss of the season, too.