30 October 2011

The Slippery Slope

We're on the slippery slope to the end of the year. Just today the cashier at the grocery store reminded me, "Thanksgiving is in just a few weeks." At least she didn't skip straight to Christmas. I've always wondered why retailers want to rush us through to the end of the year. They put Christmas trees up in August--"Don't wait! Get your ornaments now!"

We should savor autumn. Poor East Coast folks got snow already. I remember one Halloween in particular as a child where we slogged through drifts of white in costumes woefully inadequate for cold. Ruined a pair of moccasins that year... In Arizona, we worry that costumes will be too hot. Here we sit at 81 degrees--not favorable for Darth Vader or hairy monster outfits. I dressed my son as a skunk when he was three (wish I had a photo scanned, have to dig one out of the old album) and we had to make sure the black part wasn't fake fur but a thin knit so he wouldn't overheat.

What I recall about autumn in the East is the aroma of the leaves. Brilliant red maples, orange oaks, yellow birches--when they fell and began their transformation into rich compost, the tart and earthy smell perfumed the whole region. The scent of fallen leaves immediately brings a memory of apple cider and white powdered donuts, for that was what the volunteer fire departments served at their costume parties for the children. Each little town had their own, and it seems to me they staggered them to allow the kids to attend every one--and they all had apple cider with donuts.  Going to those little parties was one of the treats of growing up in a rural/small town area. We didn't have neighbors close enough to walk door to door to trick or treat so Mom would drive us to one of the small towns and/or the firehouse. And everyone knew who everyone was: you knew Old Lady Smith gave homemade popcorn balls, the Hendersons made the caramel apples, and the Riches handed out full-sized Hershey bars. Homemade treats were the norm; it was an idyllic time, long before anyone had heard of child predators, sickos with razor blades, or product tampering.

And no one pitched a fit about what Halloween meant. If you had a problem with it, you shut off your porch lights and no one bothered you. Do some historical research, which includes the traditions of the ancient Romans, Picts, Celts, and Druids who celebrated the harvest, the culmination of the growing season/farming year at Samhain, and recognized the beginning of the fallow season of winter. If you want to read an excellent explanation of the holiday, check out Lette's Chat .

All in all, we should savor the days before Thanksgiving. Celebrate All Soul's Day, El Dia de Los Muertos, Gay Fawkes Day, and Veteran's Day. Breathe deep, enjoy the scents of pumpkin and leaves. Stroll in the morning chill, lift your face to the fading sun, and relish the warmth of the fireplace or bed of blankets. The end of another year is close. Enjoy what's left.


  1. Lovely word picture of your Halloween, Jude - I just blogged about a Scottish Halloween on The Writers Vineyard the other day. And you're right - we shouldn't be rushing away the days, especially when this is my favourite time of year!

  2. Thank you so much, Rosemary. I've tried to get onto The Writers' Vineyard for the past 2 days and I get a "site is down" message. I'll reboot and give it another go--I want to read how spooky a Scot Halloween is!


  3. Amen! Savor the season. Autumn is my favorite time of year. It has the most amazing scents and colors.

    Our Halloween was warm this year, over 70 degrees. But that was okay. My daughter was a skeleton and her outfit wasn't very thick!

  4. Thanks, Linda. Bet your daughter looked great!

  5. Lovely Pictures, Jude. The blue sky is amazing!