I'm a happy camper the entire year. As holidays approach,however, I begin to fret. When company is expected at any other time, I just run the vacuum and voila, the house is set.
But not around the holidays. Now, every room in the house has to be addressed-cobwebs and curtains and extra soaps. And the decorations have to be hung to set the mood-pumpkins and gourds, turkeys and pilgrims for one month, and then, quick change to poinsetta and fir, garlands and tinsel. There is so much fuss just dressing the house that I lose any desire to do anything else, see anybody, bake the traditional pies, or choose the Christmas tree for the living room.
And that's not even the half of it. Presents need to be bought and shipped to those who can't join us for the day, and stockings need to be stuffed for those who will make it to our house, literally over rivers, and woods. The children who are closest have to cross the Willamette, the Umpkua, the Smith, the Coos, the Coquille, the Sixes and the Elk, all wild rivers that might get too bloated during rainy season which starts in September and ends in May.
And then there are forests, the entire Coastal Range that might necessitate chains certain times.
If there is a big storm, as the one last year at the beginning of December that blew off the roof of our high school and shut down Highway 101 for a few miles up and down the coast, and flooded half of Oregon to the point that the National Guard had to help people evacuate,( unfortunately the National Guard and the Reserves are still in Iraq, so the lay volunteer force was called in), under those conditions even the local stores and gas stations and utilities are wiped out. Then, nobody can connect with anybody and we just survive.
Then the spirit of the holidays invaded everyone. People were out on the highway chopping trees and clearing roads, at the high school, packing books in the library that had lost a roof, clearing debris from playgrounds,churches,businesses.
Neighbors fired up their BBQ and cooked for anybody in their block that needed a hot meal. They finished cutting down the felled trees in their yards and started out on the neighbor's. The fretting and the fussing connected us all and heralded the warmest of holidays.
These are probably the ancient memories in the songs we sing, the rituals we bring out every year, to be reminded that we have survived, and we can celebrate yet another season.