I was in first grade and one day they marched all of the classes into the cafeteria/auditorium, arranged us all by height on stands that were placed on the stage and began to teach us songs. I remember it clearly and I remember the emotions of confusion and vulnerability that it caused in me. It seemed very odd to be stood on a stage and asked to sing, why couldn't we just sing in the classroom? But it was the first time that I'd heard such American classics as "Over the River" or "America the Beautiful". Now every time I hear those songs there is a part of my mind who is a vulnerable small girl standing on the stage at Edward A. White elementary school.
Next week is Thanksgiving and the memory above and a thousand others flood my mind. I can hear the sounds of Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in the background as I sat at the kitchen table with my sister and cousins polishing silver. I stood on the streets of Florence Alabama and waited for the parade to pass and throw candy and then the giant Santa to be lit. I stood in the PX in Fort Benning GA waiting for a turn to sit on Santa's lap and tell him about the Chatty Cathy doll I really wanted. I had no idea that within a year Santa would be in a jungle half way around the world hoping to make it home for Christmas. I sat on a sofa, smelling the turkey and dressing cooking and staring at the bright happy pictures of "The Night Before Christmas" in the new Little Golden Book that my grandmother had just bought me. At nine years old, I sat in the living room with my father, putting on my shoes with Macy's in the background. We were talking about his father who had just died.
Holidays, especially Thanksgiving, bring back some of my most vivid and earliest memories. I hope the memories that my kids have are ones that they want to take with them.