We used white typing paper for snowflakes. I could precision fold and cut out those zigzags, curves, and points for hours. Like real snowflakes, no two turned out the same.
I remember black silhouettes of Presidents Washington and Lincoln at the beginning of February, cut out just before the red, white, and lace doilies marked the hearts of Valentine’s Day. A competitive venture, we decorated shoe boxes or other boxes covered in construction paper and/or doilies to build the boxes for valentines. Each student gave other students a valentine by placing it through the slotted box lid. We voted on the most beautiful box.
Valentine’s Day and Christmas are my most memorable school holidays, but you can use your imaginations to decorate for fall harvest, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Memorial Day.
I looked forward to the tradition of handmade holiday crafts from year to year. We often made gifts for our parents. We used our imaginations for “Art” class projects on Fridays to create with mediums such as felt or plaster of Paris (papier-mâche). We used newspaper strips molded over balloons and shaped chicken wire. Woodwork with coping saw and plywood weren’t as enjoyable to me as sewing crafts, but the boys were eager participants.
Through the week we worked math problems and diagramed sentences on the raised platform surrounded by chalk boards. In the spring we stood on stage and practiced for the spelling bee. But on stage at Christmas put me in the spotlight, an annual highlight. We stretched “Curtains” from wool army blankets over a wire to enhance our theatrics. Hidden, the teacher sat on a stool with script in hand. None of us stood close to the oil-burning stove center-stage. I sang a solo most every year, played in skits, and memorized “’Twas the night before Christmas.”
Once the program concluded, and proud parents quit applauding, Santa burst through the door wearing his seamed face and lots of padding. “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas” resounded through the room. Such delights he carried in the gunnysack slung over his shoulder! Treats in those brown paper sacks made memories that lasted until the next year—peanuts in the shell, a few other nuts that you needed a nutcracker for, crème drops that we called “haystacks”—filled hard candy, an apple, and an orange. The thrill of the programs carried me through the remaining winter months.
How about you, did you ever take center stage as a child?