This is fall, or autumn, in the Pacific Northwest, as is the photo along the top of the blog page itself. I cannot fully grasp how gorgeous things are here. As a young kid, around this time of year, our teachers would switch out all the construction paper to these fall tones. I remember tracing my hand on brown paper and cutting out “feathers” in different colors, attaching them to my hand cut out and calling it a Turkey! I think I may still have one in a box someplace! Another thing was all the gourds in the stores. I only ever had acorn squash and pumpkin in my youth. I remember my mom, cutting the acorn squash in half and allowing me to scoop the seeds, and then steaming the acorn squash with the middle sides down on a baking sheet with a little water on it, and then turning them over and filling them with butter and brown sugar until done cooking. It is still one of my fond childhood aromas and my favorite way to eat acorn squash. Up here, there are gourds and squashes I never knew existed. And so many delightful recipes and ways to use them. For the first time last year, we roasted the pumpkin seeds in melted butter and salt. This year, we did two batches: one had the butter and salt, the other had butter, sugar, and cinnamon. The men all loved the plain; I adored the cinnamon! Most of our cut-out pumpkins are gone…they were first invaded by the state animal – the slug – and then they imploded! Ugh! Quite ugly and messy. Our grass is barely visible with a carpeting of red, yellow, and brown maple leaves all over it. The changing leaves are gorgeous to look at, but such a mess to deal with. Around some streets, people don’t bother cleaning them up until the last one falls from the tree. In our library parking lot, the asphalt has this weird coating of crushed, fallen, leaves. And the temperature has certainly dropped. The heater has actually come on during the day! The smells are changing and you can actually feel us all slipping into winter. And it is a pretty wonderful experience!
I am feeling so cheated, though. Already there are Christmas decorations and music all over the place, and even stores like WalMart are having “Black Friday” on Thursday – the evening of Thanksgiving!!! For most retailers and restaurants, we skipped fall and went straight to winter. Each season has its own feel to it and its own celebrations. And we are denying ourselves the joys of autumn. We are skimming in off Labor Day, barely noticing Veteran’s Day, and zooming right into Christmas. And I am angry about it. Why would kids bother to learn what Thanksgiving is, if there is no recognition of it anywhere? Is this on purpose?
Well, I hunted for and could not locate, a chart I saw recently where it delineates the steps towards Communism. But in the 10 Planks of the Communist Manifesto, number 10 is “free public education for all children; combine education with industrial production.” Now, I am not saying that WalMart having Black Friday on Thursday, or the fact that all the Shari’s restaurants have up their Christmas decor and are already taking their Christmas Dinner and pie orders (oh yeah, you can order a Thanksgiving one, but it is on a Christmas order form) does not mean I think we have fully adopted the Communist Manifesto. I do, however, feel like we are shifting, as a culture, and it is starting to be noticeable.
Edmund Burke (1729-1797) is quoted as saying, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Why are our schools not teaching more of our own history? There are great lessons to be learned in our own recent past. In a previous blog where I shared about visiting the King Tut exhibit in Seattle, I made a side comment that Egypt is recalling all of its relics. It has now come to light that the Muslim Brotherhood wants to smash the Sphinx and the Pyramids, and many of the statues because the Muslims consider them idolatry. In America, we barely remember that Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for the many blessings in our lives, yes, but it is also a time to be thankful for the sacrifices that brought settlers to these lands, so many years ago. And why, exactly, did they come? They were escaping religious persecution. The type of persecution we see in Egypt today in Christian harassment and torture. They now ask Christians to convert or leave the country and are considering Sharia law for the entire country. I know that skipping paper turkey cut outs and pumpkin pie is nowhere near the equivalent of Sharia law and smashing pyramids, but it is definitely on the road to it. And I am worried for our Country’s future, and for my grandchildren. Making turkey cut outs is fun, dressing up as Pilgrims is fun, reenacting the first Thanksgiving dinner is fun.
And then we have Christmas. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ, the Savior of the World. Christ’s Mass. It is not Santa or red and green lights on your house, your Aunt’s horrible fruitcake, or that dumb jar of pickled eggs being given back and forth each year (a personal reference to my brother and father on that one). Christmas is not even when we should be exchanging gifts – it’s not our birthday and it’s not when Jesus received gifts; it is when he received life. We tried many years ago to shift our celebration to the Epiphany, or “Little Christmas” because it seemed more appropriate. That is the day the Wise Men acknowledge Christ and brought him the gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. Santa could come on Christmas with a couple of items, but the fun stuff from Mom and Dad arrived on Epiphany. (As a parent it is awesome because you can hit all the after-Christmas sales!) But it was a rough transition for our kids because commercialism had sold them on December 25th and making them wait until January 5th was cruel! LOL! Still, we try to acknowledge Little Christmas each year. It wonderful to have the Christmas season go from Thanksgiving through New Year’s and the 5th of January. But we do not need to skip Thanksgiving and go from Labor Day to Christmas, with a hiccup for Turkey in November.
This year is already making me mad with all the commercialism. So I decided that I am going to drag out fall….my favorite season. I am going to bake some pumpkin breads and some pies, make some good, rib-sticking autumn meals, maybe even some squash recipes, and just enjoy the breather before Christmas gets here. I am going to be sure to be thankful for all that I have, and the fact that so many sacrificed so that I can have a Thanksgiving. I am going to insist my children know why we celebrate Thanksgiving. And I am not pulling out any other decor until after Thanksgiving. It is an important part of our cultural heritage and as for me and my house, bring on the Turkey! I am going to slowly transition to Christmas and winter, after my tryptophan coma! In the meantime, I broke out my long underwear and my sweaters. Yay for fall!