Always, it's the weather...

The fog is persistently in and thick. Around here, that means it is the long Thanksgiving weekend! And we will all be looking for our friends and relatives somewhere out there in the mist and revised arrival times.

To add to the chaos, there is a very cold storm heading our way, due to arrive during the week after the long holiday weekend. This will be the first real challenge in many years for the gardeners who fell in love with exotic and tender tropical plants. The forecasters are predicting 20-degree weather, so those plants will need much wrapping and bundling to survive outdoors.

Then there is the ritual of turning off the outside water sources, emptying and turning over the water pots, draining the hoses, cutting back the dying peony foliage in order to expose the new fat buds so they don't rot, finding the city snow boots, mittens and hats. When will I find the time to perfect that exotic new recipe I promised for the Thanksgiving table?

Or I could wait to shut down the garden until the day after Thanksgiving, and by scheduling it that way I would also avoid the shopping rush. It is known in the retail trade as Black Friday, and all the merchants rely on their yearly success by being ready to greet you and to tempt you greatly on that day. It is fun to go out and to be mobbed and to complain about it all. Especially if you have had serious discussions about not being caught up in the shopping frenzy of this season. Secretly, we all know that we find great pleasure in this shopping season. It just seems unseemly if the pleasure is not masked by outrageous complaining.

The marketing experts have also come up with a new trend they are calling Cyber Monday. This is the day after the long weekend when online sales hit their peak, or so they hope. Their research has concluded that people returning to their jobs are refreshed from the long weekend and, after dealing with the e-mail, log on to start their Christmas shopping. We won't tell your boss because the boss is also busy with their shopping and really does not want to deal with such "trivial" and potentially ethical issues.

I regret the cynicism just shown, but so much of our culture is involved with skirting around the issues. We bemoan the commercialization of the holiday season, yet we partake. We scramble to find some personal meaning, but often run out of time. May I suggest that when the snow flies next week, despite the inconveniences, you sit quietly for a few moments and watch the swirling flakes with a renewed sense of wonder and delight. Then hold tight to those sweet feelings.

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