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We need to slow down for holidays

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By W.B. Evans

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to Christmas. But I liked it a little better a long time ago when we took it a bit slower.

Whatever happened to really enjoying Thanksgiving?

At the rate things are moving, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see Cupid hovering above store shelves in the next two weeks.

Bless Pete, let’s slow down a bit.

Golly, Miss Moses, it’s just now time to turn the pumpkins around. You know, turn the cut-out jack-o'-lantern face toward the wall so the uncut side can signal the Thanksgiving season.

We did something similar in school, when we moved from cutting pumpkins from orange sheets of construction paper to drawing great big, hand-pattern tom turkeys, pilgrims and heaps of crisp fall leaves.

I recently noticed on cyberspace that some so-called Thanksgiving experts are out to prove the first settlers and Indians didn’t enjoy the legs of Old Jim’s ancestors, along with vegetables grown by their brow sweat.

Seeing how pilgrims dressed like the late Johnny Cash, wore tall hats and carried muskets, nobody can convince me that Thanksgiving table wasn’t loaded down with roasted gobblers.

We take so much for granted these days and aren’t thankful for the stuff we do have.

Why, if you were in a mercantile this week, it was busting over with all kinds of foodstuff, including 5-pound bags of granulated sugar stacked like cord wood.

In 1942, that bag of sugar never got that far. As soon as word got out, mothers everywhere would drop whatever they were doing (just like cowboys at the picture show did when somebody yelled, “Gold!”), and tear down to the grocery store, waving ration stamps in the air.

That sugar disappeared quicker than the good candy  bars on the 3-cents rack at Mr. Dunn’s store.

After when it was gone, our mothers went back to using white syrup as a sugar substitute.

The apples for those pies we tore into on Thanksgiving were canned back in the hot summer with Karo or Staley brand white syrup.

There was no refrigerated poultry case to push your way to, either, thank goodness.

Our turkey was in the back yard. He came from Tradesville and had been filling up on cracked corn for several weeks in a big wooden coop. That sure would make all these TV chefs proud.

Folks around here who were flat-footed, too old or too young for military service answered to the cotton mill whistle’s call every day to make stuff for those who were sacrificing.

While making do with what they had, being a lint-head did have one perk, so to speak.

Col. Springs made sure that each employee took home a big sack of fruit, nuts and candy.

I guess it was the World War I flying ace’s way of saying thank you for their hard work weaving cloth and duck canvas for our soldiers and sailors.

Slowing down also gave us time to get everything ready for the fruitcake making, too.

Now, these cakes were Mama’s masterpieces, not the poor-excuse-for-a-doorstop fruitcakes lining store shelves these days. A fruitcake from our kitchen was highly prized, taking time and love to craft.

Her fruitcakes were not  an afterthought for someone you really didn’t care for.

Sure, we didn’t have or get everything we wanted, but golly, mamas all over were doing their best.

It was easier, too, because stores stayed in time with the seasons. They didn’t rush from Halloween candy to candy canes. Thanksgiving was something to be thankful for.

Up here in far off Maryland, my grandson brought me a box of chocolate covered cherries.

As a boy, the first signs of Christmas were boxes of chocolate cherries Mr. Bucklelew stacked on his candy counters. However, those boxes were never on the shelves before Thanksgiving like today.

Now, Grandma did rush one thing; her Christmas gift to each grandchild.

She gave each of us a shiny quarter a few days before Dec. 25.

I was lucky. My birthday is in February and since I was her “special,” she gave a birthday quarter to me along with my Christmas quarter.

And with four bits, I could buy twice as much stuff.

Lucky me, Mr. Bucklelew, somehow, had gotten his hands on some Marx Toys that made it here before the metal normally used for them was turned into machine gun bullets.

Bless Pete. Those toys  were on sale, too,

A week before Christmas, those two quarters got as hot as blazing coals in my britches pocket.

Bucklelew had a metal, red truck that looked just like one of Uncle John’s oil trucks. It caught my eye.

Talk about the real McCoy, the hood and the tailgate on that thing opened and closed.

The way I figured it, I could fill it with dominoes or checkers and haul the load around.

It was 49 cents. Since there was no sales tax to fret over, I got my truck and one brownie back. When I showed it to Grandma, Uncle John just  happened to be there. He gave me a couple of paper ESSO stickers to dress up my shiny new truck. Now it really did look like one of his oil trucks.

Why, he even slipped me a couple of dimes.

Boy, Christmas was getting better already, war or no war. And it didn’t have to be ushered in by Black Friday to mean something.