The Beauty of Nostalgia…PAZAZ™ Style!

A sentimental journey begins with the wistful affection for the past. I remember my youth as though it was yesterday. The home made Christmas tree, Thanksgiving meals, the Easter egg hunts, trick-or-treat to kick off the holiday gauntlet… and yes, the circus.

All of those aforementioned experiences are the culmination of true sensory participation. The visual, the sound, the smells, and the laughter combine to bring those moments to life. Etched in our memories are the connections to friends and family that make those events so special.

Dressing up in costumes made by my parents made me never want to try on another piece of clothing, every again. Now I look back on that time as a fleeting cloud of family togetherness that was gone in the classic “blink of an eye.”

I would stand (for what seemed like forever) on a small wooden box as my parents would wrap me in weird clothing that culminated with a very strange mask. Of course this was the torture I’d have to endure if I wanted to go from house to house begging for candy. I never really understood the thought process behind Halloween… but who cares if at the end of the day you could consume copious amounts of sweet delights and then be launched into a diabetic coma.

The next holiday was really all about family and friends. Eating a wonderful meal with items rarely consumed the rest of the year (Thanksgiving) was a bountiful treat. The next step in this ritual of over eating would be the sitting on the couch having consumed way to much food. This would end with the tryptophan making its way into my blood stream for the inevitable deep slumber that ensued. This peaceful slumber (later in life) would follow with a chug of Pepto-Bismol to relieve the bloated stomach which quite possibly could have popped several buttons around the mid-section.

Bringing out the advent calendar for my favorite holiday of the year, Christmas, began several rituals that accompanied the most delectabale sensory experience of the year. First there was the full decoration of the home. This would start with my dad getting up on a rickety old wooden ladder to place Christmas lights around the roof of our home. Then, if he escaped the almost certain fall we would go behind our home to cut down a dead branch from a tree.

My dad would place the branch in a steel bucket and fill it with plaster or cement to secure it. We would spray it white, take it inside, and place colorful Christmas ornaments on the branches. This would be followed by the finishing touches, draping the branches with angle hair and spraying fake snow over the entirety of the tree. Finally my dad would back light the tree with different colored lights to magicaly transform this dead branch into a thing of beauty. The effort, time, and love that went into this process… I will never forget.

A meal my mom created as a once a year special event (Christmas Eve) meal which consisted of onion soup and a bay shrimp salad with my favorite thousand island dressing. This would swiftly be followed by the opening of the presents in which I played Santa Clause giving out the presents to my parents and grandmother.

Christmas day was up next and was easily the most anticipated holiday of the year. It brought the anticipation of that one present (Santa Clause had hopefully read my carefully crafted letter) delivered to my home for Christmas morning. I was blessed to receive that gift and typically played with it until I grew out of it or broke it. What a wonderful time!

New Years Eve I didn’t give a rats ass about as a kid because it was just another reminder that school was around the corner. Now the last vestige of hope was Easter. I didn’t really understand the religous significance behind this holiday but knew that those big fat chocolate easter bunnies would be in one of the baskets I hunted for. I would consume those big fat chocolate bunnies with a religous fervor usually associated with the aftermath of an exorcism.

Finally, not associated with a holiday but with equal joy and amazement was the circus. I really can’t remember the first time I went to a circus but I can remember the initial capture of my senses because of the wafting cotton candy and peanut brittle. That moment placed me in a temporary but significant trance. This formidable trance was broken by the equally show stopping moment I saw my first elephant and tiger. I couldn’t believe the enormity and power of those beautiful animals. Their majesty and size couldn’t be translated on the black and white TV playing those old Tarzan movies. This was a real life wake up call to the expansive world we lived in and how little I truly new about its inhabitants.

All of these previously mentioned moments in time are simply reflections of memories I will never forget. There is a place for all of us we can travel to without every leaving the space we currently occupy. It is within that framework of description we can bring our past into the reality of the future, never forgetting the simplicity of a smile so real and so innocent.