Today I went with the Hooligans, Diamondqueen, and Mom to the Christmas walk in Milford, Ohio. It was a bright day, a little breezy, but above 60 degrees, so being outside between shops was delightful. There was plenty of holiday spirit and plenty to see. Diamondqueen and the Hooligans even took a ride on a restored 1945 fire engine.
Going to the Christmas walk in Milford the day after Thanksgiving has evolved into a minor tradition. Years ago when I used to house-sit over some holidays, I’d eat a huge meal of leftovers from Mom’s feast of the day before, then drive over to Milford for some shopping. There were a couple more antique shops than there are now, and I usually discovered some unusual little treasure for my gifting needs.
Even when I did the Milford walk, in the evening I’d head over to Miamitown to tour their big to-do with Mom. They had more antique shops in town then as well, and every store was packed. There, too, kids lined up for fire engine rides and carriage rides, and one side street was taken up with a tent-covered craft show. It was always a good time.
Way back when (late ’50s and early ’60s, that is), we spent the day after Thanksgiving getting dressed up and going downtown to have our pictures taken with Santa at Shillito’s, which always had a grand Santaland. We usually had to stand in line a long, long time, and I don’t recall doing much else. If my young cousins came along, and after my youngest brother was born, that meant five small children in a hot, crowded store.
Further along in the ’60s, we got away from the downtown excursion, possibly because our local mall made visiting Santa at our convenience such a breeze. We’d definitely go downtown at some point, but not necessary that first shopping day of the season. However, for a couple of years we’d drive down on that Friday evening for the tree lighting ceremony on Fountain Square. The moment when all the lights up and down the esplanade came on, including trails of lights flowing from the hands of the lady atop the fountain, was certainly dramatic, but I recall lots of readings and carols beforehand that seemed to go on forever.
One tradition that really goes back and got dissolved by the changes in the Catholic church was my parents staying up until midnight on Friday so they could feast on turkey; it was strictly no meat allowed on Fridays in those days. I don’t think this law applied to me until I entered first grade, so I had to suffer the fast only a few years until Vatican II made Thanksgiving leftovers a Friday treat as well.
NUDGE: Sometimes we get so focused on a holiday, we overlook traditions from other days that surround it. How did you spend the day after Thanksgiving when you were a child? What about when you were raising your family? Or now, in these modern days of Black Friday madness? Was there some activity unique to your family? What new traditions do you see developing?