It's That Time of Year Again

Ever since I can remember, this time of year casts a certain spell over me. And it all starts with Halloween.

Growing up, the holiday meant costume competitions at school, plastic Jack-O-Lantern buckets brimming with candy, and eerie music. Our teachers would dress up in classic witch outfits, parade us around campus as we strutted our festive garb, and throw a classroom party festooned with black-and-orange cupcakes and a cauldron of dark punch. Though my costumes were terribly unoriginal and sometimes unrecognizable – my ninja suit one year puzzled a lot of spectators – Halloween always found me animated.



Celebrating my brother John Paul's birthday (Oct. 26), Halloween (Oct. 31) and my birthday (Nov. 1) all in one. Look at my smirk as Mom helps John Paul cut the cake!



I cringed to see the day come to a close, but the one consolation I had – besides the inordinate amounts of candy to last me through the New Year – was my birthday the next day. Indeed, Halloween marks the pre-party to the real party in the quirky life of Danielle. And last year, on my birthday, I was blessed to welcome my first child into this world. How amazing is that? It seems the universe is aligned with my predilections exactly.

After that, it’s smooth sailing through November until Thanksgiving arrives. If you’ve ever lived in the US or even visited during the month of November, you understand the enormity of Thanksgiving. It would not be brash to compare it to the ranks of Christmas, as virtually everyone in the country drops everything and heads home for an extended four-day weekend replete with turkey, cranberry sauce, Black Friday shopping, and pumpkin pie.

Christmas always descended upon the Issa household the weekend of Thanksgiving. Dad would haul down the tree from the garage attic, and Mom would pull out boxes of ornaments and decorations from the shed. During the weeks leading to Christmas, and even for a couple of weeks afterward, we had Christmas music on playback. A Country Christmas, Celine Dion’s Christmas, Christmas with the Stars, The Chipmunks' Christmas—you name it, we had every holiday CD imaginable.

What I fondly remember is sitting in the kitchen with Mom, pressing dough out of cookie guns with Christmas-shaped molds like trees, poinsettia petals, and snowflakes. Once baked, we’d spread homemade jam between two cookies and dust them with confectioner’s sugar. These buttery bites were my favorite, the emblem of the holiday season.

The Christmas tree would remain up well into January, sometimes early February, to perpetuate the holiday cheer as long as possible. We scorned neighbors who threw theirs out by the curb just days after December 25th—the blasphemy! Poor Mom, it was she who had to dismantle the decorations while we were away at school.



I used to love camping out beneath the tree, staring up at all the brilliant lights and ornaments!


This holiday season, like several before it, I will be thousands of miles from my family who are celebrating in sunny Southern California. On the opposite side of the world, I’ll be with my husband, son, and second family, experiencing the joys of the holiday from a different vantage point in vibrant Beirut.

On that note, I'd like to wish you a festive start to the extended holiday season. May it find you in good company, huddled around delectable food, with cups overflowing and rosy cheeks a-glowing.


This piece appears in the special season edition of American Cart by Wesley's Wholesale.

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