The holidays will soon be here.
A time of joy and feasting…when we’re as stuffed as turkeys…when we’re Cranberried to the hilt. A time of family and friends and frolickin’ fun! Hearing Mom’s laughter and sampling Aunt Eleanor’s sweet potato pie.
Oh—but the whip-cream-of-it-all comes when Granny and Grandaddy get out the old family Bible and read a passage or two from the Psalms: “Give Thanx unto the Lord, for He is good…”
Uh…what? Wait a minute! Are we talking about Thanksgiving in the Heartland, today?
Hardly. We seldom have “Thanksgiving” or “Christmas,” any more. We have Thanxgiving and X-mas. It’s the “X-rating of America .” The removal of old-fashioned, countrified values which have been replaced by an “X”….
“Thanxgiving”…It means hearing the scream of children fighting over the latest computer game. The roar of Dish-TV. Reality shows. South-Park adult “cartoons”. We hear a litany of moans and growls as another scandal breaks somewhere in America .
It seems that our good ol’ USA has gone from being “Countrified” to “Country-fried!”
The burnout of our modern American lifestyle is most obvious this time of the year… Divorces and custody battles go to the front burner during the holidays. Sizzling family feuds. Manipulations. Step-families and heated arguments…all mingling with cigarette smoke and anguished tears. Not much peace and harmony and prayer, any more.
Where are the Norman Rockwell scenes? Families sitting at a table laden with golden turkeys and sweet potato pie? Oh, how we miss those days! The warmth of a crackling fireplace. Smoke curling from chimneys—instead of from people. The prattle of Aunt Mabel over her knitting has given way to discussions of “Sex in the City,” and “Adult Showcase,” and “Redneck Weddings”—complete with toilet-plunger bouquets and cow-pie decor.
“Desperate Housewives”, indeed! The closest thing we have to a Rockwell Thanksgiving, nowadays, is a howling montage of America’s Funniest Home Videos…or maybe the Country-Fried Version. Raucous laughter as pants fall down and old men pass gas. Absurd antics. Bungling buffoons.
Is this the America we can be proud of, today?
Don’t get me wrong. I love America and I love to have fun…And I still think our country is the greatest nation on earth! But how much longer are we going to drift on this Sea of Frothy Foolishness before we sink out of sight?
Oh, I know. I know! It doesn’t do any good to talk about it! But don’t you yearn for the old “Country Days” depicted on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post? Those Scrabble-after-Dinner days where families laughed and played board games together?
Let’s see. How many Scrabble points are there in the word: “Nostalgia” or maybe the word: “Memories” ? At least 10 points, don’t you think? And look at all the high-value letters in the word “Harmony”! If you add an “-ies” at the end, you’ll have a Triple-Word-Score!
Ah yes. Those days seem so far behind us, now—but if we look hard enough, we can find them in the cobwebby attics of our minds…stuck way back there with the mothballed quilts and Kerr Canning Jars.
I still remember the sound of the wind blowing through a crack in the farmhouse window—a low moaning sound…rising higher and higher as the cold wind blew harder. The bang of an oven-door as Granny took out her steaming homemade bread…Incredibly crusty, yet soft inside. Nobody bakes bread like Grandma did….
Remember the rhubarb and gooseberry pie? I helped my Granny bake pies one time, and I learned quite a lesson. While Grandma shared her luscious pie with everyone, I refused to share my own little pie with a single soul. The next morning, I awakened to find my pie drowned by the melting ice from a defrosting fridge. Soggy. Inedible. I had to throw it out.
“That’s what happens when you’re selfish,” Grandma said. Ah—the folly of childhood misfortunes and the wisdom of dear old Grannies! To whom do we listen—now that those ancient voices have died away —sinking into silence beneath a tombstone? Our elders took their recipes and home remedies and wisdom to the grave.
Now the Old Country ways are becoming extinct…Just fossilized relics on the museum-shelves of our minds. We reach for them—longing to run our hands over the time-worn mementos and memories….Longing to hear the tinkle of the old piano keys as Auntie’s fingers go rippling across the ivories:
“Home, home on the range. Where the deer and the antelope play—”
Screeeeeech! The squeal of tires outside bring us back to reality. The teenagers are at it again. Racing their cars down the road. But we resist the clamor of our modern era, and drift back to the whimsical haze of yesteryear…
Remember Big Max and Uncle Paul and dear old Grandpa…? How hard they used to work! And remember how Grandma Kate made patchwork quilts out of Grandpa’s old silk ties? I still have one of Granny’s blankets, somewhere. But the quilted fragrance of Grandma’s house has faded, now. So many years have gone by. So many stitches have unraveled in the fabric of our modern life.
In the olden days, we didn’t hear of kids sassing adults. We didn’t hear of kids killing their grandparents with butcher knives and calmly wiping the blood on Granny’s kitchen towel.
Why do these things happen, anyway? Is it because parents have turned to putty in the hands of their petulant children?
We no longer hear: “Children—obey your parents!” Instead, it’s: “Parents—obey your kids!” Don’t require anything of your munchkins. It will damage their self-esteem! It’s all part of the X-rating of America . No boundaries. No respect. No common sense.
My 16-year-old-daughter said it best the other day: “Mom…” she said. “We kids need boundaries. We really don’t like them at first—but later on, we’re glad! They make us feel safe.”
Dear…dear! How did we get on this subject, anyway? We’re supposed to be talking about a countrified Thanksgiving…But now we’ve gotten off-track—wandering from the old country roads and onto the Freeway! We’re going to get run over by a Mack truck, if we’re not careful.
My soapbox is already squished flat…so I must go, now, and have some of that turkey and sweet potato pie.
Keep your feet dry, folks. Keep your woodstove burning brightly….And if you happen to see Norman Rockwell somewhere along the way, let me know.
Have a happy Thanxgiving, everyone!…We’ll chat again at X-mas!