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Finding Magic in the Holidays, Whenever You Need It

Author: Michelle Mamerto

As soon as October hit, I went into our garage and pulled out all of our winter decorations. My daughter, Petra, and I set about to decorate our home for the holidays. Why did we decide to decorate so early this year? With Covid-19 lurking around, we thought that it would be much safer for her not to go trick or treating, and it was decided that we would go “straight to winter.” We’ve spent year after year, preparing for the holidays beginning in October, so the concept was nothing new. Decorating the house so early was new, but we needed that small bit of magic to 2020. The holidays are a magical time and it makes people happy- especially my family.

Growing up in the Bay Area, costumes and parties go hand in hand all year long. Halloween has always been a very big deal for our family, and we live in an area where Halloween is one big outdoor party for all. This is one of Petra’s last years to trick or treat, but, obviously, this year is different. With Covid-19, we wanted to be part of the solution and not the problem. We knew months before, that there would be no trick or treating for us. So we cried, and we complained, and we had our feelings. Then one day, Petra asked me that since we were doing Halloween so small, would it be okay to put up the holiday decorations early? Can we do winter for the rest of the year- even if it is still 90 degrees outside? I took this as her way of accepting the situation and making an effort to move past feelings of loss to one of positivity and hope. I couldn’t say “no.”

For years now, our family has prepped for the holidays starting in October- from piano recitals, to choir performances, and school plays, we are accustomed to seeing holiday-themed sheet music and making December plans starting in October. It’s nothing new for us to start prepping early for a busy December, but it is new for us to have stockings hung by the fireplace and garland wrapped around our staircase this early- though we welcome the change.

The holidays make us happy. There’s a scientific study that decorating for the holidays early makes people happier, and who couldn’t use that right about now? Psychologists say that putting up holiday decorations can bring about feelings of nostalgia and child-like excitement. It can help you remember happy moments and time spent with loved ones. The holidays were always my dad’s favorite time of year. My dad was a professional singer in his youth and music has always been a huge part of our family. The holidays conjure a time when my dad’s tenor voice would echo through our home while he was in the kitchen preparing phenomenal dishes for our family and friends. While Petra never got the chance to meet her “Lolo,” who passed away before she was born, whenever we celebrate the holidays- especially through music and good food, it feels like Lolo is right there with us.

So give me a quarantine tamale day, and bonding with my kid through baking cookies, making lumpia, and crafting parols (Filipino Christmas star lanterns,) a socially-distanced stargazing session with hot cocoa in hand, singing and dancing to holiday music all day (every day,) and let’s argue on FaceTime about whether “Nightmare Before Christmas” is a Halloween or Christmas movie, and whether “Die Hard” is even a Christmas movie. Let me watch my child’s eyes light up while she decorates our tree “her way,” without me trying to fix it (even though I REALLY want to fix it!) We’ve started the holidays early and we’re going BIG- and there’s no judgment if you want to do that too.

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