Last week, downtown Stephenville was filled to capacity with children of all ages during the Safe Trick ‘R Treat (Yes, I know Halloween was two weeks ago but this was rescheduled due to bad weather).
As far as the eye could see, there were kids dressed in all sorts of elaborate costumes that made you think they'd just stepped off the set of a movie or a TV show and it brought one thought to my mind....the holidays are a lot different now than they were when I was a kid.
Back then, dressing for Halloween meant putting on those plastic costumes Mom and Dad bought you at Wal-Mart or the dollar store that had those masks you could barely see out of. We'd start out going to our school or church's Halloween carnival (that's what they called them instead of Fall Festivals) then we'd hit the streets and go from house to house, filling up our grocery sacks, McDonald's Happy Meal buckets, or whatever we could find with so much candy, Willy Wonka would've gone out of business. When we got through trick or treating, one of two things happened, we either took our candy to the hospital to get x-rayed or waited until we got home and let our folks check it to make sure it was safe then we'd eat so much, we'd have to be scraped off the walls so we could get ready for bed.
After pigging out on all those sweets, it was time to get ready for Thanksgiving. We'd sing "Over The River And Through The Woods" in music class at school. The local grocery store, Thrift Mart would have sacks specially designed with fringed Indian vests you could cut out and wear and you'd use the handle as a head band and a little piece you could use as the feather. Then came time for the big day when we'd get up early to see our favorite cartoon characters on the Macy's Parade, stuff ourselves with turkey and all that other good stuff, then either go outside and play or watch the Cowboys with the adults.
The week after Thanksgiving, our family would load up and go to Abilene for a shopping trip. When we entered the mall and saw little jingle bells hanging from the ceiling and Santa Claus sitting in his big red chair in front of a gigantic gingerbread house, complete with animatronic elves, we knew the holidays had officially arrived and of course, it wasn't a Christmas shopping trip unless we got a few sips of good-'ol Orange Julius and a sample of delicious food from Chick-Fil-A. We shopped 'till we dropped and about the time we left the mall, it was around dark so our folks would take us down Sayles Boulevard to see all the decorated houses, which was almost like driving on to the set of a Hallmark movie.
There are also some local Christmas memories as well such as caroling at the bank with the school, specially made sacks from Thrift Mart you could color and enter in a contest (which I never won), and our class Christmas parties where the teachers wouldn't make us do any work all day, we'd just eat to our heart's content then get out for a break until January, when we could come back and tell our friends about everything we got.
We can't forget New Year's Eve when our parents would let us stay up to watch Jay Leno announce the ball drop on Times Square, which gave way to getting up early the next day and watching all the parades such as the Tournament of Roses, King Orange (a nighttime parade), and of course, all the college ballgames, followed by the traditional course of black-eyed peas.
Then there was Valentine's Day when once again, we'd have parties in class and pass out little cards that had pictures of our favorite athletes and TV and movie characters that had little Valentine's Day sayings on them. As we reached Junior High and High school age, those little parties with punch and cookies turned into dances coordinated by our parents with refreshments and a DJ cranking out our favorite songs so loud you could hear it in Lubbock.
The holidays were a magical time for me and the rest of the kids I grew up with and although we didn't have Facebook or Twitter to post pictures of everything we did back then, we still have our memories we can hold in our hearts and to me, that makes this time of year even more special.
Tim Turnbeaugh is a musician who was born and reared in Eastland County, but currently resides in Stephenville. Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.