Charla Huber: We can't control what holiday memories stick

With Thanksgiving complete, we’ve now officially moved into the string of winter holidays. If your Thanksgiving was anything like mine, it was a little weird, quiet and lacking the joy of visiting with friends for hours.

I did have a great day with my daughter, it was just different.

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Next, we tackle Halloween. People will choose if they handout candy or take kids trick or treating. Some people will choose new ways to honour the fun holiday, or skip it altogether.

Over the next few months, we’ll be navigating our way through these holidays, and hopefully find meaningful ways to celebrate that are safe.

I was chatting with a colleague about these upcoming holidays and the stress that I feel as a parent to make them memorable for my daughter. I know I can’t be the only person worried about how children will remember these times.

Basically, I don’t want children to remember 2020 as the Pandemic that Stole Christmas.

I shared several ways that I was considering celebrating upcoming holidays with the hopes of not tarnishing my daughter’s memories.

My colleague then shared stories of growing up in Alberta wearing snowsuits over Halloween costumes due to snowstorms and freezing weather. My eyes lit up. I also grew up in Alberta, and had Halloweens like that too.

I remember wearing snow pants, a jacket, toque, scarf and a hood wrapped around my head. No one had a clue what my costume was, and I remember being really disappointed about having my costume all bundled up.

I didn’t remember this until I was reminded, and then I realized that it wasn’t so bad. It was a little hiccup that made sure that not all Halloweens were blurred together.

It was through this conversation that I was reminded that we can’t determine what memories stick in our minds, or what memories last in others. Acknowledging this reminded me that I don’t need to try so hard. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to happy memories, and that’s what makes them great.

When I was adult, my mother told me that there was a day when she wasn’t sure how she going to feed my brother and me when we were small, and she was feeling really terrible.

She took the last of the food in the house and put it on plates and set them down on a blanket on the floor and told us we were having a picnic for dinner. The dinner consisted of crackers, pickles and other pantry staples.

While this dinner was a low point for my mother, she said that the following week when she asked us what we’d like for dinner, we answered “picnic.” I remember our first floor picnic and many of them after. It was a common dinner choice for my brother and me.

It’s a good reminder that it’s not the occasion that counts, it’s how you frame it. This will be the year of new traditions and I’m interested to see how creative everyone gets.

Charla Huber is the director of communications and Indigenous relations for M’akola Housing Society.

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