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For Proper Festivities, You Need A Makeshift Family

Holidays are the hardest times to live away from family. As Thanksgiving nears, I think about the dinner my Aunt hosts every year. Come Christmas, I’m ready to bake cookies, using the same recipes we always rely on. And last weekend, at Halloween, I knew I was missing out on the perennial bonfire my parents make to welcome trick-or-treaters to our door.

I love the small traditions that add up over time — the little things that make holidays special and specific to my family.

While living in Alaska has been incredible, the other volunteers and I have only had a few months to get to know each other. Even though our house has a lot of history from previous KNOM generations, there hasn’t been enough time yet for us to develop our own customs and ways to celebrate.

In short, I wasn’t sure how Halloween would pan out. The holiday doesn’t hold the same pressure as Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I still really wanted us to have a good time as a group. And in the end, I’m so glad to say that we did.

We sprung for a pumpkin at the grocery store and carved our jack-o-lantern together. We spent an evening hanging orange and black streamers all over the place. We all assembled makeshift costumes at the last minute, helping each other fashion a witch’s hat from black trash bags or cat’s ears from an old egg carton.

And then we cooked a delicious curry dinner and ate together as a family. It wasn’t anything too elaborate, and it wasn’t my childhood home. But it was just the right celebration for us. And it gave me confidence that all of our holidays from here on out will be special just the same.

A French sailor, a cat, a mummy, and a witch. Photo: Angelo Wilkie-Page.

A French sailor, a cat, a mummy, and a witch. Photo: Angelo Wilkie-Page.