Tis the season for tradition.
The customs practiced by the Weald family at this time of year are not so different from any other household in Juniper Valley. Thanksgiving, the celebration of gratitude, will kick off the season. Although officially the holiday falls on the second Monday of October the celebrating will actually begin two days before. From the moment the October long weekend begins and until the first day of the new year everyone will remember, practice and repeat the customs handed down over generations. Baking and cooking traditional recipes, attending traditional events and participating in the overall merriment of the traditional season.
Two days ago the weekend seemed to stretch out in front of them like an uphill hike on an old dirt road. Now Monday morning the end is indeed in sight. The children lazy and sated lounging around the television set, the boys watching sports, Lauren and Beth reading library books, the aroma of yesterdays thanksgiving feast still lingering throughout the homestead. Today’s late lunch will be left overs, sandwiches stuffed with cold turkey and cranberries Mmmm. Mr. Weald lay stretched out on the couch, one eye on the game the other behind his newspaper while Mrs. Weald pretends to fuss around in the kitchen. Mostly just sitting at the dining table sipping coffee and thumbing through her magazine. After the busyness of Saturday and Sunday, all are a feeling a bit worn out but content.
Saturday was nice. The weather cooperated, creating an ideal day for enjoying the fair. Beginning early, right after breakfast and not ending until well after dark, it was a long day. Mr. and Mrs. Weald were the first to leave, having been asked to judge various competitions. The girls, Lauren and Beth, had entered art work and sewing projects while Bill entered in the tractor race. Josh and Joey plan to watch the tractor pull competitions and eat fair food. Grandpops is of like mind so he goes with the twins and the three of them ruin their lunch and dinner with cotton candy and corn dogs. Grandma Weald takes the girls to the stables and later the three watch barrel racing.
The family does not meet up as whole again until dinner time when they all pile back into the car and truck, heading out for a meal at the corner café. After dinner it’s back to the fair for midway and then home. Fun, exhausting and all part of the tradition
Of course Sunday is the feast and the main event. The original tradition which all else circles around like a wreath or like smaller tradition satellites.
Monday is the lay about day. Which is what everyone is happily doing. That is until Joey and Josh start squabbling. It wasn’t intentional. The twins are rambunctious. That is how Mrs.Weald describes the boys behaviour. Grandpops calls it rowdy and disruptive. Whatever you call it Josh and Joey are at it and Mr. Weald has had enough. Sitting up and putting down his paper he looks at the boys. He looks at them hard like he is trying to control his temper. Like he is trying to think of a solution to this disturbance of his well deserved peace. Finally this is what he says. “Have you boys thought about Christmas yet?” At the mentioning of Christmas the boys abruptly halt. “It’s only a few months away now.” Immediately the twins and Lauren begin to shout out what they want. “Hush, Hush not everyone at once.” “You know the rules, if you are well-behaved, are helpful and generous you will find generosity bestowed on you. So now is the time to think about what you want, and put in a letter, quietly.” “In the mean time I have a project for you lot.”
Mr. Weald calls for Mrs. Weald to join them in the living room. “Dear,” he addresses her, “I will need your help with this.” “Every year Bill and I cut down a tree two weeks before Christmas. We trek through the cold and wet snow searching for the perfect one . I was thinking this year the gang could head out this afternoon, while the weather is still fine, and pick one out. Choose a couple of good candidates and tie red ribbons to them. Come Christmas-time the tree will be easy for us to find.”
Mrs.Weald agrees it’s a good idea so she and Beth walk over to grandmothers to fetch the ribbons.
Mother doesn’t sew much anymore, neither does grandma, but an old trunk is kept filled with fabric bits and ends, string and ribbons for the kids to craft with. Grandma points out there are not many red items in the trunk but after a bit of digging they find an old sash. Grandma had been the second runner-up Juniper fall fair queen, 1925. “This should do the trick.” she says as she picks up the scissors and cuts the sash in half. Beth gasps. “Now, now it has been in here for over 60 years.” Grandma chuckles. “It’s not like I’m ever going to wear it again”. They take the sash now made into two back to the main house. The children are waiting at the door and having dressed warmly are ready to go. Enthusiastic about their task they set out into the woods to find a Christmas tree.
Unwittingly a new tradition is born