Teachers’ Childhood Holiday Memories

Teachers’ Childhood Holiday Memories

Ben Sanders

“Honest to God, I shot this old yield sign, and I could slowly see the bullet arch out of my gun. I saw it getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller, then I saw it getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger. I tilted my hat down and the bullet hit my forehead.” Instructor Bob Myers was shocked. Well, at least he didn’t shoot his eye out.

   From celebrating Christmas in rural Mexico to an embarrassing Christmas gift, teachers from around WO, such as Myers, shared some of their most memorable holiday experiences as a child. 

Instructor Bob Myers

   Myers also remembers opening up his Christmas presents and getting “Super Slider Snow Skates” from his parents. Myers was thrilled, “I remember watching the commercials, and I saw kids skating fast in them. I remember watching the commercial saying ‘I can do this.’ No, I couldn’t.” Myers, however, was determined to get up the hill in his backyard. He strapped them on and began his trek. 

   Myers had one problem though, “I could not stand up in those things!” Myers spent over two hours outside trying to get up the hill, but all he did was fall down. “My parents took a movie of it from the kitchen window. I was so mad. I took off my boots with the shoes still on and came into the house with my socks on.”

Instructor Larry DeLeon

   DeLeon grew up in Michigan; however, his favorite experience from the holidays is when his family went down to Mexico. He remembers visiting his family in Mexico as a kid every three years for Christmas, “Some of my more memorable experiences of holidays as a child involved traveling to Sabinas Hidalgo, Mexico, to visit my grandfather and other family members during the Christmas season.” 

   DeLeon remembers leaving cold and snowy Michigan and arriving at his grandfather’s ranch in sunny and warm Mexico. The lengthy car ride was more than worth it. 

   DeLeon mentioned, “I enjoyed spending time with cousins that I rarely got to see and of course, the food. One of my favorite things to eat (not just during the holidays) was Pan Dulce or Mexican sweet bread.” He mentioned how the bakeries in Holland make decent Pan Dulce, but nothing compared to what he had in Mexico. DeLeon said, “Looking back, I realize how important those times were to connect with my Mexican heritage. Now I take my own wife and kids on the same trip every two to three years.”

Instructor Kelly DeWitt

   Instructor Kelly DeWitt remembers his favorite holiday experience, “Thanksgiving was our big family holiday. My family raised turkeys so I would go out to the turkey coop the Sunday before Thanksgiving (the coop would hold hundreds of turkeys). I would have to find one that recently died and still looked like it was in good condition. My dad and I would then scald off the feathers and dress the bird. My dad would then cook the bird overnight on Wednesday at a very low temperature. Those were the best turkeys, always moist, never dry. And the skin was perfectly crispy.”

   DeWitt, despite enjoying his Thanksgiving meal, grew fond of one turkey, Tom. His pet turkey “Tom” and DeWitt had a short-lived friendship, “We did have him for Thanksgiving that fall.”

Instructor Maria Castilleja.

   Instructor Maria Castilleja grew up in rural Mexico. There, she formed some interesting holiday memories, “One memorable tradition we enjoyed the most was El Año Nuevo y Los Tres Reyes Magos-The New Year & The Wise Man. Throughout the year, we had to wait to get new clothes, a toy, or have a party. My mom made the effort to save so we could receive a gift from Los Reyes Magos.”

   Castilleja also mentioned how her Christmas tree was a real bush they cut down in the forest. She said, “It was the most beautiful tree for us. We made our own ornaments from natural resources (grass) that were used to make baskets, dry fruit, paper, and whatever we could find to make it look beautiful.”

   In order to receive a gift from Los Reyes Magos, Castilleja remembers placing her shoe under the Christmas tree or by the window. “We also made a piñata, which was a pot made of clay, and we decorated it with paper. Inside the piñata, my mom put fruit and Christmas candy called aguinaldo.

   Castilleja said, “This time was the happiest time for us all because we patiently waited all year long to receive new clothes, a gift and most importantly, my dad visited us from The United States.” 

Instructor Brian Taylor 

   Instructor Brian Taylor described his most memorable experiences of Christmas as a child, “I have many memories of holidays as a child; most odd or depressing. For example, our family made donuts every New Year’s Eve, which I thought everyone did until years later when I discovered no other family does this as a tradition.”

   One Christmas, Taylor remembers vividly how Christmas was ruined, “We were told Santa was visiting our school one year, which I thought odd, and upon further examination, I discovered that Santa was none other than my father.” Taylor also mentioned, “I can trace my generally distrustful and cynical nature to this formative event, which likely also explains why I majored in philosophy in college.”