Holidays are idealized as times of celebration. They are embedded in cultural symbols, family patterns, and lived experience. Because all holidays are not good times, however, the lived experience of holidays is considerably more complex than its symbolization. This ambivalence is dramatically deepened for recently disabled adults who view holidays as a specially strained time of remembrance. Past holidays are often idealized in a new way as one's biography is placed into a new embodied reality. Simultaneously, holidays remain days when one is supposed to celebrate, and often denote some celebration for the injured. The resulting experience is a melange of painful past memories, agonizing perceptions of the future, and a sense of possibility in the present. In this paper, I examine holidays as the locus of particularly problematic good times and bad times juxtaposed in one experience. The Data for this study were collected while the author did participant observation at a rehabilitation hospital during a series of holidays: e.g., the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

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