For Thanksgiving, I vividly remember having celery sticks stuffed with dressing, cream cheese, and crushed walnuts, and Mogen David wine, in the middle of a feast fit for a queen. Now just how our family ended up with a wine that has a Jewish association is beyond me. As I researched the wine, I saw blogs and message boards where many people recalled it as being the “festive” wine served during their holidays, also.
But Thanksgiving, no matter where it is celebrated, has nothing on Christmas! During Christmas time, my father would go down to Fulton Market and buy fruits, nuts, candies, and other goodies for our home.
Fulton Market was much like many markets in other big towns, where small store owners would go to buy produce, fruit or fish. And the little guy trying to raise a brood of kids was also welcome to shop. During this season, the area would be filled with people from all over the city caught up in the holiday spirit—sort of like a scene from A Christmas Carol or from If Scrooge Was A Brother (a play performed by one of Chicago’s black theater companies). But my father would also have enough to share with neighbors. Christmas circa 1966 also involved neighbors on our block going house to house singing Christmas carols. The two evergreen or fir trees, one in the front yard and one in the back, would be decorated with festive lights that you could see from at least a block away. And the big snowman that lit up our entire front porch would be on display for all to see. Before we started using real Christmas trees, we would place the fake Christmas tree in the living room, decorate it and wait for the big, white Santa Claus (because this is all we knew) to come down the chimney.
We would leave milk and cookies out, and I guess my mother would come and take those away and place the presents under the tree. During these times, my siblings and I enjoyed games like Operation, Candyland, Twister, Etch a Sketch and Hands Down. These were all just simple things that kept our attention for hours, long before the electronics invasion.