Like everyone else, I suppose, I have many really good memories of the fall season — memories that are as deep-rooted in my mind today as when the events that formulated these remembrances took place 50-plus years ago.
And since we’re at the time of the year when the subject matter is again relevant, I thought it might be worth relating this relevance in the following:
When I was young I had this personal notion that fall and early winter combined made for a very unique time of the year — unlike any other coming before or after it; and, as such, not only had to be revered but also had to be carefully and deliberately planned for.
Of course I loved the summer season, replete with all the really fun things to do like swimming and biking and traversing the hills and, naturally, baseball.
But I knew there simply was no escaping the fact that it was only a matter of time until the glory of the summer season was inevitably enveloped by the dullness of school that I and every other kid also understood was at the door.
About the only way I could personally resolve this hard cold fact was to immediately begin concentrating on something else: my own countdown to Halloween, followed by my countdown to Thanksgiving, and, after that, my countdown to Christmas.
It didn’t really matter how despicable school was those first couple of months. Simply knowing what special times lay just ahead of every kid and his grandma made school seem a little less bad a little more tolerable.
Each of the holidays was a stepping stone that, combined together, would get me through the start and completion of what otherwise would have been a long and tedious new school semester.
I guess the real point to all this is kids in those days really looked forward to and consequently took these very special days one at a time. First came Halloween, then 24 or so days later Thanksgiving, and a month or so after that, Christmas. One holiday at a time, in that order.
There was no combining of the three the way there is now. First there was one, and then the other, and then the one after that, completely independent of each other.
It now seems as if those three special days, for whatever reason, have turned into one gigantic, blended holiday.
Shortly after the start of school in late summer there are those retail stores that on some scale actually begin putting out Christmas decorations along with their Halloween stuff. (I’ll admit that’s still a little early even for Halloween, but at least it’s a tad closer to August than Christmas.)
The truth is we’ve seemingly forgotten the specialness and individuality of a holiday to the point that it no longer seems to be important or even worthy of its own uniqueness.
What does seem important is for the Walmarts of the world doing whatever it takes to capitalize on any and every holiday under the sun and making as much money on it as possible, even if that means capitalizing on it weeks if not months ahead of its own time.
I’m wondering what happened to tradition. I’m wondering what happened to simply recognizing and celebrating each major holiday as it comes along and allowing people, particularly kids, to anticipate and relish each one for its own distinctiveness.
Obviously we’re living in a far different world now. But it’s not so different that kids today should be denied the chance to celebrate and relish Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas as they appear on the calendar, and not be cajoled into doing it weeks, and, in some cases, months, beforehand.
I really don’t know why or even exactly when all this happened. The one thing I’m certain of, however, is it really doesn’t matter — at least not to me.
I still have my great memories, and, the aforementioned personal notion notwithstanding, they will remain important to me until the day we go back to the way it once was and they’re no longer distinctive and relevant or they plant me in the ground—whichever comes first.