Monday, October 30, 2017

Savoring the holidays

Just a couple of days to Halloween, and Nolan leans over to me whispering, "Christmas is coming."  What?!? Time to get a few things straight!

Already stores are packed with slippers. Slippers, you know, sell out early as they are a sought-after Christmas present. You couldn't find a last minute Halloween decoration, because those were tucked away making room for a Christmas takeover. Yes, indeed, Nolan, every sign points to Yule on the horizon.

I hate the way that commercialism demands we focus on Christmas. The other holidays seem to get the boot, because the mighty dollar needs to be spent. We go into Thanksgiving hoping to get it done,  so we can get the Black Friday deals. We are manipulated by public relations and marketing ploys to draw us in and our money out.

Well, I am protesting. I am standing up against this power push by Hallmark and other card companies. I stand against Christmas movies beginning in November. I protest tinsel and garland before I have had a bite of my turkey. Who will stand with me!!! Ah, hello..... are you listening? Who will stand wi...okay. I am a lone voice bucking the system. Nothing new there.

I can close my eyes and find myself sitting in the kitchen with mom while she makes her pumpkin pies. Oh, wow, smell that aroma? Pumpkin and spices calling out to me after all these years. Anyone who ever ate her pie knows what I am saying. This is what I mean about savoring the holidays. The preparation, the planning. The family coming home. Long talks at the kitchen table and kids draped over the chairs and sofa getting to know one another all over again. Yummy leftovers to be eaten for couple of days after. And, no Black Friday. We savored the food, the family and all the memories that came to visit. My money can draw interest a little longer.

There are blessings that come when we don't live life so quickly. We set into motion traditions that stay with us always. We learn to appreciate the moment as well as the bite of pumpkin pie. Bah Humbug to those who are pushing the holidays. I prefer to lick my lips and say, "Can I have another piece?" For now, I will just bide my time and wait for Thanksgiving to arrive. And for those who are not looking forward to Thanksgiving, I say, "Run, Turkey, Run!!!!"

Monday, October 23, 2017

Treat and Treat

The candy makers are anticipating a great Halloween night that will have kids dragging home bags full of their goodies. Dentists cringe at the thought. Parents try to recycle the gathered candy as fast as they can once the child gets home. Yep, its that time of year again.

I always had a bit of a problem with this idea of trick or treat. The treat is nice if you get one. If you don't, why would you want to hurt someone else? Seems to be a bit of bullying tied to this old fashioned idea. I rather like the idea of handing out little books or tooth brushes. Perhaps we could just hand out good advice when the ghosts and goblins show up. Many of those old traditions and way of thinking really should be updated to reflect kindness and goodwill.

Well, what do I know? Mom felt that begging for candy was wrong. "We don't beg," Hm. Hadn't thought about that in years. It was begging. And, if you didn't hand over a treat, a cow might be tipped or corn shocks knocked over. You might get egged or have your pumpkins smashed. Why, why, why?

Then there are those kids who are entirely too old to go door to door and should know better. One year I even had a woman show up with a bag! And, they go to neighborhoods where they can get the biggest haul. My kids, and now my grandchildren, only visited their own neighborhood. Who needs that much candy?!?

I guess I sound like a Halloween curmudgeon, but truly, I don't get it. Give me a great ghost story and maybe a few ghosts, and I am in the spirit. Jack-o'-lanterns winking on the front steps and scary ghosts sounds coming from a hidden speaker. Kids parading their costumes followed by smiling parents...and grandparents. Feeling that pride when they say 'thank you' after they receive their candy. Watching neighbors who have watched them grow, beam when they open the door to their smiling faces. That is what I love about Halloween.

I handed out candy last year. I ran out and had no other option but to turn off the lights and sit in the dark. For at least 30 minutes, kids came up and still knocked. Some even yelled angry words. Those were the older kids who should have stayed home. I sat in the dark as if I had done a criminal act by not handing out more candy. I hoped to blend into the shadows so no one would notice that I sat there holding an empty bucket.

Perhaps Halloween should be a day of treating. Treating others with kind words and deeds. It could be called Treat and Treat. Good deeds deserving a few sweets. Candy makers might be a little put off by the idea. Dentists would love it. And, best of all, I wouldn't need to sit in the dark with my empty bucket.

Happy Halloween, my friends. Be safe out there.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Ah, sweet autumn

Put the cauldron on! We're going to revisit memories. How can you not go back in time when you feel that crisp, fresh air and smell the leaves and other detritus, that decay giving the earth a blanket for a winter's sleep. Our thoughts turn to pumpkins and pumpkin pie. Not just about today but about those yesterdays remembered. Nutmeg, cinnamon, apple cider. Somehow nuts and apples and pears are a bit more alluring. Autumn. Ah, let's add ingredients

The first thing into the cauldron must be the sound of farm equipment rumbling across the fields, taking in the fall harvest. Wagons full of corn, signaling a healthier bank account, and livestock with food in their pantry. It signals a quieter time for the farmer and a honey-do list waiting for him when winter brings him out of the fields and into the house. A time to sit by the fire.

Next comes the anticipation of snow and thoughts of Christmas. A quick stopover at Halloween and then Thanksgiving with thoughts of finishing crafts and buying presents. My granddaughter Emma took me into her closet to show me her snow pants. She is anticipating tubing down the mountain. "I need snow boots, MeMe," she imparted with perhaps a motive behind the comment. Ah, yes, snow. I remember. I remember the anticipation.

Add a few memories of counting days until kids come home from college or grandchildren come to visit. The excitement of planning. The anticipation of hugs long missed. For me, it is a time of missing those no longer here, remembering the family gatherings and anticipating my son coming home after months at Northwestern during his college years. A yearning for those we love and the past.

Let's toss in hay rides. Pure joy and smiles at the memory of straw in a wagon, singing at the top of our lungs and snuggling together against the fall chill. Cider and hot dogs. Popcorn and cookies. Donuts and hot chocolate. Sugar Grove and youth group.

Let's add a little bulk to this stew of memories. Homecoming, marching band, football and soccer. Pumpkin Show and fall bazaars. Summer put away so that a new season can bloom once more. A hearty fall menu.

Bold colored leaves of yellow, gold, red and orange are reflected in clothing. Tank tops make way for sweaters. Heavier bedding comes out of storage. Feather beds, down comforters, flannel sheets. The stew is a palette of memories and colors. I hope I have stirred a cauldron of memories for you. Enjoy every minute and savor the stew.

"And in my heart, sweet Autumn, thou art the awakener of many, many things. At thy touch the deep fountain of memory is stirred, and its shadowy bank is thronged with many cherished images and hallowed recollections of the Past!" - Elizabeth J. Eames from "An Autumn Reverie, October 1940

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Getting my penny's worth

Some people do spring cleaning. June and I are both doing fall cleaning. She is getting ready to move, and I, just like my mother, love to move things around and discover treasures I had forgotten I had tucked away in that "why am I keeping it/I can't part with it" box.

June: I just found those old cards I got at the fair that have actors on them.
Me: I hate to tell you, but I have one of yours. It's Donald O'Connor. Do you want it?
June: No. Do you want this stack?

So goes the conversation taking on a new direction straight to the Penny Arcade at the Darke County Fair. I know you all have some of those little treasures. We all took those once precious pennies into that tent to the left of the race track and tried our luck. We played pinball, had our fortunes read and hoped that the love machine would tell us that our favorite guy really loved us. When the pennies ran out, we took off in search of a parent who just might have a bit of change.

A big old claw would pick up cheaply made toys and toss them into a chute....if you were lucky. There were gumball machines that added to the already large amount of sugar we had already consumed with cotton candy and candy apples. You could squeeze a handle to learn what strength you held in those skinny arms. If you had no idea how much you weighed, for a penny you could have it announced it to everyone in line behind you. Marbles shot off into space and horses raced around a track. Boxers fought and balls were tossed into holes. For a penny you could learn how your day was going via the horoscope machine. How about a piece of soda mint gum to settle your tummy? Maybe you stood on a box and looked into the big, round Mutoscope at a movie. There was a personality tester where you could find out if you were shy, exotic, glamorous, studious. It was a place you could shoot a mounted gun and not take the life of any living thing.

Yes, one conversation turned into a column of penny memories.

June: Do you remember the one machine that you could type your name onto a circle that surrounded a silver star? I spelled my name wrong the first time and had to do it again.

I remember putting a penny into a machine, and it coming out flat with a message on it. I'm missing those days when a penny was worth every moment of delightful time spent in the Penny Arcade. Hey, June, remember the plastic kewpie doll on the end of a stick? (fuel for another sister conversation)