Fellow Slob Sisters,
September flew past us like the leaves on our trees. What happened to summer? Here in the northwest, it was late coming and late leaving, and now, all of a sudden, it's firewood weather. It's amazing how fast one season leaves the other behind. We've always been grateful that we live in a part of the country where the weather serves as a wake-up call. When we walk outside in shorts and tank tops and trip over the limbs of trees blown down in the night, it's obvious that the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are gone. We've packed away our shorts, unpacked our sweaters and now we're ready to go take on the holidays. It starts with pumpkins, then we pick out our turkeys and finally we choose our Christmas trees.
The other day, one of us was waiting outside in the parking lot of a local grocery store, while a friend ran in to get a couple of things. The car was parked in full view of a huge heap of shockingly orange pumpkins. If they'd been a still-life in an amateur's painting, the teacher would have advised the artist to tone down the color, but this pile was real-life and Mother Nature wasn't being subtle with her palet.
With nothing to do but wait, it was fun to watch people pass the pumpkins and go into the store. Nearly everyone had to look their way. A naughty kid kicked one of them. His mother never noticed, but he knew he did it and as they walked into the store, he looked back. He got away with the assult but the pumpkin was damaged. A couple of minutes later they came back outside with an empty grocery cart. The mom was obviously frazzled and in a hurry. She bent over and haphazzardly twisted a couple of of the large ones while her son looked for the one he'd kicked. He picked up the wounded pumpkin and showed its good side to his mother. She didn't think it was the best of the bunch but he won and they drove it into the store.
A young couple came upon the orange mass and she called his attention to it. Only slightly interested, he stepped back and put his hands in his pockets. His wife was on a mission to find the perfect pumpkin in the group. She'd examined all those in the front and wasn't satisfied. Too pregnant to reach very far, she pointed to a rolly-polly one in the middle of the others. She said something to her husband and he took his hands out of his pockets and self-consciously tried to get to it without making a scene. He held it up for her approval. "No", her shaking head told him. He put it down and she pointed to another one. He held that one up and it was also rejected. She motioned for him to go deep into the stack and show her the tall one on the left. Before they found the perfect one, her poor husband had lost all of his dignity. Leaping from one giant to the next, digging down into the waist-deep pile, rolling the cast-offs out of his way, he finally got one accepted by his expectant wife. He crawled out of the mound, so pleased with the orange trophy, that he forgot he was on his knees. If choosing a pumpkin was so exacting, what would he have to go through when they went to cut down a Christmas tree?
Before it was time to go, a senior citizen walked out of the store carrying about a five pounder (do you think it was a man or a woman?) and he put it in the trunk of his car. He had no other groceries--just the festive jack-o-lantern. Another man made it through the parking lot to his car with a 40 pound sack of dog food over his sholder and a 20 pound pumpkin under his arm.
There was something so nice about each one of the customers. None were alike but all were into the season. Let the huge pile of pumpkins at the grocery store serve as a Christmas warning. Last week they were ten cents a pound. Today they are five. Hello!!! It doesn't take a degree in business to see a Halloween clearance. That it means one thing...we're moving forward to Thanksgiving. Then after the last of the pilgrims leaves town, you-know-who is going to be wedging his way down our chimneys. They said on the radio this morning that there are 70 shopping days until Christmas. Everyone in the booth groaned--money, emotions, fatigue, relationships, house guests, decisions, cleaning, decorating, baking, and trying to capture the holiday spirit.
The holiday spirit can be caught in a moment without spending a dime, dropping a tear, changing a sheet, decking a hall, or pre-heating the oven. The only "Spirit of Christmas" you'll ever find is the spirit of goodness within you as you recognize the goodness in your neighbor. You're as good as it gets. You're not the pie in the oven but the love behind the effort. You're not the decorated tree but you are the light that illuminates your home. You're the welcome that draws friends and family close. You are the inheritance that's worth all of the gifts you could ever gather at the mall. You are the mistletoe and holly, the sweet smells of candles burning--candles that never burn out. You are the fire that warms, the food that nourishes, the sweetness of all the holiday treats you'll enjoy because you are the ongoing saga of love made visible. Enjoy every minute of it!