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Monday, October 11, 2010

Plenty in the Season of Excess

The Bear meets a jack-o-lantern
Okay, so I know it's only October 11, but everywhere I turned this weekend, I saw people and places (myself included) gearing up for the holiday season. Pumpkin Pie. Newly hired seasonal retail staff in training. And me, thinking about what to get The Husband for his birthday next month.

And me, fortuitously scheduling a hair appointment in early December. (I always want a fresh haircut for all the holiday festivities, and I always think about it at the last minute. By then, my salon is booked solid, but this year it's in the bag. Score!)

Yes, the holiday season is just around the corner. Here in Kentucky it is unseasonably warm. And as much as I want to bring all my Halloween and fall decor up from the basement, I'm having trouble getting in the mood when it's almost 90 degrees outside. Is this weather indicative of global warming? Who knows. I think scientists can only point to longer-term climate shifts as evidence. However, a hot sunny day in October makes me think of our climate crisis and all the excess that has led us to this point. 

On Saturday, I went to Hallmark's Fall Ornament Open House, and as I was waiting to purchase my Switzerland Santa, I started thinking about the impending holiday season and making promises to myself about how I wanted it to go: 

I will not get too busy to enjoy it. I will not spend a weekend making five different candies only to give a little away and eat all the rest. I will not become a crazed shopper, studying the sale ads for hours, leaving the house at 6 a.m. just to beat the traffic and score all the good deals.

I will not! I will not! I will not!

Instead I will focus on quality time with my family. I will go to church every week of advent. I will shop early and gift wrap soon after. I will not get too busy to exercise. I will not bake too much, and above all else, I will not eat like it's my last month on earth!

Spring Mill
Yesterday I recalled these intentions for a simple, sane holiday season when The Husband, The Bear, and I visited the Pioneer Village at Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell, Indiana. This had been a frequent destination of my youth, and I was excited to share it with my family. I don't believe I've visited this village for the better part of a decade, and for the first time ever, I basked in the history of the place. (I probably have my stint as a local history/genealogy librarian to thank for that!)

The Husband kindly followed The Bear around the mill, showing her corn husk dolls and wooden toys. (Read: keeping her from doing any damage to herself and/or the place!) while I listened to a man in period garb discuss all the complexities of the engineering, all the time and sweat and money invested into a design that moved water from a creek to a wheel, that in turn moved other wheels, all to make one giant, 3,000 pound stone grind corn.

There's no doubt, pioneers had to devote a lot of resources just to complete what we would now consider simple tasks. This morning, without cutting down trees, building a mill, diverting a stream, and then slowly hauling a giant rock from North Carolina, I was able to grind a half cup of coffee beans in about 20 seconds. (And I didn't have to grow the beans myself, either!) Modern conveniences leave so much room for excess, and at times, I think I could be the poster child: Too much coffee, too much food, too much stuff! And then...during these final months of the year, it all goes even more overboard.

Still, this is my favorite time of year! I love the multi-colored leaves, the smell of pumpkin pie, the pleasure of a crackling fire. I love how it leads to Thanksgiving and then on to Christmas. I love the food, especially the sweets like bourbon balls and rocky-road fudge. And I love, love, love the shopping, love working my way through the mall crowds, eggnog latte in hand. I get on a holiday high, and I want to eat it all up before it's gone, which usually leaves me overstuffed, overwhelmed, and exhausted.

But this year, I'm hoping to be different. I'm hoping to be better. I will be tempted to overindulge and to overspend, but I'm giving myself one word to help me through this season: plenty. 

I have more than plenty, and this year, I intend to live like I know it.



  1. Nice. I believe in your plan, but all I can think about right now is how good an eggnog latte sounds.:)

  2. Hi Jessica! I hope you didn't think I meant I was going to abstain completely! Still, I really hate myself when I order a sugary drink and a pastry and like myself much better when I get an Americano with my pumpkin cream cheese muffin!

    I have been meaning to look up the calorie content of the Pumpkin Spice Latte for weeks now! This little exchange, here, has finally made me bite the bullet and do it! This morning I consumed a tall PSL with skim milk and whipped cream, which has 260 cal, 6g fat. (no whip would've made it 200 cal, 0g fat). Meanwhile, a plain old tall skinny latte has only 100 cal and 0g fat.

    Maybe some day I will look up the calorie and fat content of the pumpkin cream cheese muffin!