Gobble, gobble! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Farewell to fall and, depending on where one lives, hello to the beauty and bluster of winter. For some of us here in the Midwest, we’ve gotten an early taste of what perhaps awaits us in the long months ahead.
Autumn is my favorite time of year, chock full of warm and welcoming colors and that indescribable scent and weight and feel of the invigorating, crisp and, at times, brisk air. The inevitable cycle of the seasons dictates, however, that fall must give way to what comes next: snow, wind, ice and cold.
Enter the holiday season with all its pageantry, light, love, laughter and cherished traditions. Thanksgiving, that unique American celebration, replete with feasting, family, food and football, sets the tone for Christmas. More of the same and then some…
Childhood memories and nostalgia for what was (or perhaps that which we believe had once been) is a mighty force behind the potency of the Christmas holiday. We recall the eager anticipation and countdown of Santa’s arrival, the heady excitement of seeing the bounty beneath the tree come Christmas morning, the songs and carols that still make us smile, the red and green and gold and silver of holiday décor triggering a feeling of contentment unlike any other event of the calendar year.
The holiday season is upon us now, providing those of us in more frigid climes with a welcome distraction from the bitter wind-chills, icy roads and snowy driveways that winter promises to deliver in the weeks and months ahead. And yet, winter in December can be beautiful. Softly falling snow, the calm stillness of winter woods, frost on windows and the delighted cries of children playing outdoors, rosy cheeks and colorful caps, scarves and mittens to keep them warm.
Perspective is everything and I, for one, choose to embrace this transition from fall to winter just as I did when I was a child: filled with starry-eyed wonder and an appreciation of the changing of the guard from one season to that which follows.
The eating season is upon us.
Purists, myself included, might argue that Thanksgiving is NOT the true starting point of holiday gluttony. It’s Halloween, instead, that really kicks off the Season of Eatin’ in my mind. Sure, the kiddos are scarfing down sugar at an alarming rate on All Saints Day; however, only the most disciplined among us fail to hold back our favorite candies from the Trick or Treat Trough for our own enjoyment later, leaving little ghosts, witches and goblins a paltry mix of Dots, Butterfingers and hard candies instead of the really good stuff – Tootsie Rolls, Milky Ways and Hershey bars.
And so it’s Halloween when our caloric intakes begins its steep ascent. By the time we’ve eaten our way through our private stashes of chocolate (and let’s face it – that’s the stuff we tell ourselves we’re buying for the children but we all know we buy those bags of miniatures for US, not the neighbor kids), we’re only a few weeks away from Turkey Day with the named main course, hard to resist side dishes, buns, rolls and pies, pies, PIES!
As we scramble to locate needle and thread to refasten all the buttons that have popped from stuffing ourselves silly at Thanksgiving, our eating thresholds now risen a few notches, the pièce de résistance – the countdown to Christmas! – begins. Endless potlucks, company luncheons, goodies showing up at work every other day, holiday get-togethers and the Big Day itself with ham and potatoes and gravy and green bean casserole and platters brimming with sausages, cheese and crackers. And that’s just the warm-up. The real business is yet to come – Christmas cookies, bars, more pies, decadent desserts of every kind. To wash it all down are soft drinks, eggnog, wine, steaming hot cocoa and apple cider and other choice beverages, several of which are alcoholic in nature.
The holidays just wouldn’t be the same without the warmly traditional yet rich, calorie-laden, sugary, fattening, gloriously delicious foods of our childhoods. Come January, we’ll pay the price but for most of us, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Dull, dreary, brown, mousy and nondescript…
That pretty much describes the month of November. After the colorful leaves of fall find their way to the earth below, we’re pretty much left with bare, lifeless trees in a monotone landscape.
It occurs to me that November, the second to last month of the year, shares the same boring distinction – as far as months go – as that of the second month of the year, February. True, November has Thanksgiving, a wonderful American holiday and February can boast of Valentines Day, a commercially-driven day for lovers but weather-wise there is not much to recommend either one. Both have their fair share of gloomy, sunless days and cold-for-the-season temperatures with both pesky winds and unwelcome precipitation.
Still, both months have merit. November is the gateway to the holiday season while February signals the halfway point of winter with the promise of spring soon to follow. For now, however, with the end of daylight savings time and the transition to cooler temps and the promise (threat?) of snow in the wings, early November can be fickle and unreliable. Nothing to do but hunker down, enjoy those hot, comforting beverages, stir up a pot of chili, burrow into a good book or catch up on those recorded TV programs and series – Orange, House of Cards, Breaking Bad – you’ve been wanting to watch (or watch again). Now, before the busy season is upon us, sit back and make the best of it!
Here it is: the middle of July and that means summer is pretty much half over. Thanks to a nasty trio of infections I enviously watch healthy children, teens and adults enjoying the wonderful summer weather. They are blissfully unaware that losers like myself are confined indoors or swaddled in layers of clothing when venturing outdoors.
That’s fine. Not the end of the world although it is frustrating. On the upside there is still plenty of summer left in what remains of July and all of August. Beyond that we have the lovely month of September and then the very best season of the entire year: FALL! Crisp air, changing colors, leaves crunching underfoot, kids going back to school, football games, apple festivals, HALLOWEEN! While some (negative people) discount the beauty of the season and grumble about what comes next, I love this time of year. Not only is there the delightfully fun trick-or-treat celebration of crazy and color that falls on October 31st there is also Thanksgiving – the precursor to the wonderful Christmas holiday season. Christmas and winter and the first snowstorm and comfort food and hot chocolate eventually yield to the downside of the calendar – that long stretch of cold and snow and wind and ice that us Midwesterners grapple with (in varying degrees) every year. Then there is spring which runs a close second (for me anyway) with all its new growth and green and lovely blue skies and birds chirping and flowers, flowers, FLOWERS!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. There are still many summer days ahead of us and just as soon as I kick this nasty cough I plan to grab the bull by the horns and enjoy what’s left of it!