Halloween always feels to me like the kick-off to a season of abundance which lasts until Christmas is over. The abundance train is picking up speed now and will reach its peak on Thanksgiving Day, not slowing down until around the New Year. Mostly the abundance is wonderful, of course, but it does have a shadow side, starting with the bag of candy gleaned on Halloween night that weighs as much as a bowling ball. Up it goes on top of the refrigerator, and then the non-stop candy obsession, begging, and negotiations begin. It's exhausting for me and so this year I sought a way to speedily curtail this nonsense, which would otherwise drag on for weeks. I gave my girls the option to trade in their entire candy stash for a new toy, which I would pick out (I was not about to let this trade turn into a fresh avenue of parent-child negotiations). I was counting on them choosing the trade, and they did. Special thanks goes to my friend Manuela who gave me this idea. They were both thrilled with the toy, and I haven't heard one word about the candy since it left our house. It cost me twenty dollars, but what price won't I pay to keep things as complexity-free as possible around here?
On our last road trip we began listening to The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, on audiobook in the car. We finished the rest in snippets, during errands around town. It ends with a very spartan, but incredibly joyful and cozy Christmas, which requires the resourcefulness of every member of the Ingalls family to pull off, given the circumstances of the harshest winter the Minnesota prairie has known for decades. Yes, it is just a story-- fiction-- but the human potentiality it presents seems perfectly authentic to me, and no doubt to many readers, as this series has earned its place as a perennial favorite. It demonstrates a kind of joy that is possible within the context of scarcity that might not be so easily accessible in the context of surfeit. Perhaps I am romanticizing things, but I do harbor a belief that some amount of scarcity is good for the human spirit. That damned wholesome Ingalls family-- they haunt the corners of my consciousness.
This year my girls are on top of their Christmas game. They've already begun their collaborative letter to the North Pole, four pages and growing. We told them that Santa doesn't start opening mail until after Thanksgiving, so they can cool it just a little. We are going to have to figure out how to stage an abundant visit from Santa on a strict budget in the days of Disney Stores, Nintendo DS, and a mailbox which is now daily crammed--crammed, I tell you-- with catalogues advertising Annual Outerwear Sales and Free Shipping galore. Ma and Pa Ingalls thought they had it rough out there on the Minnesota prairie.
|Folk painted doll chairs from Mexico. Neighbors (in NC) were throwing these out.|
|"The Magnet," a lesson in Handbook of Nature Study, by Anna Botsford Comstock|