Autumn is my favorite time of the year. From the September Equinox to the December Solstice I revel in the bite of crisp apples, the scent of sharp, clean air, and the phases of the moon full of magic and mystery. I became a wife and a mother in the fall season. Both of my babies were born in autumn. My husband and I are children of autumn, too, both of us born in November and then married in that same mystical month.
As soon as the Equinox arrives, I dress my home in the trappings of autumn. October blooms with wreaths of colored leaves, more candles than I normally light, Halloween villages, images of witches and ghosts and vampires and skeletons. Pumpkins on doorsteps and in my kitchen garden windows. I love to celebrate the dark and the supernatural. That something around the corner. That something under the bed. Delicious shivers and midnight spells. Celebrating my child’s birth. And then we arrive at the day when the legends and beliefs of many claim the veil between the worlds is thinnest, allowing the spirits of our loved ones to come back and visit us. Samhain. Dia de los Muertos. Season of the Witch.
The day after, we sweep away the mist and detritus of the October revelries and we gather the harvest to celebrate Thanksgiving. Count our blessings. Celebrate births, marriages. Roasted turkey and root vegetables and pumpkin pie. Warm jackets and beanies, boots kicking at piles of rainbow colored leaves. The trees and plants prepare for their long winter’s nap, shedding their summer glory to blanket the earth below.
And then…December. The month of Christmas, the winter Solstice. Celebrate my child’s birth. Trees and lights and cinnamon. Candles and warm fireplaces. And, always…Christmas mugs. I do have a Halloween wine glass and a birthday month tea towel. But my Christmas mugs are special. Maybe it’s because I relate December with the deep snows of my childhood, the warmth of a cup of something delicious representing home and coziness and love. Safety. Whatever it might be, on the first of December, without fail, I pull out my Christmas mugs. They are the perfect conical shape to wrap my hands around. They hold the ideal amount of that first morning cup of coffee. Each ceramic mug has an image: a Nutcracker, a Toy Soldier, an Angel, a Snowman. Over the month, I bring out the rest of the Christmas decorations but always with a warm cup in my hand.
So, here is the thing. We are now ten months past December and I am still using my Christmas mugs. Of course, that will save me digging through boxes in the garage in about a month or so but somehow, and especially these past two years, the seasons have begun to slid into one another. Somehow Christmas gave way to winter, bloomed into spring which segued into summer…and I am still greeting the mornings with my Christmas mugs. I don’t seem to be the only one merging the seasons. Our Christmas cacti bloomed in spring this year (and are blooming again now). We have a bevy of mourning doves that seem reluctant to migrate this fall. Instead, where there were two doves in the spring are now eight that frequent our garden and they are making no move to leave.
If we have all been in pandemic stasis the past two years, it is also evident that we are evolving. My habits, like those of the doves and the cacti, are changing. I wear a mask wherever I go now and have used all resources available to me to stay safe. Visits to loved ones, travel, and social events have all changed. I was recently reminded we used to eat cake someone had blown on! Is this evolution good? Is it bad? It’s neither. It’s inevitable, is what it is. We have only survived as a species by evolving to meet the ongoing changes in the environment whether human or nature. As many wise men and women have stated over the ages, change is the only constant.
So really, what does it matter that I am still drinking from my Christmas mugs in October? If the seasons are sliding into one another then maybe, in some near or far future, they will look completely different than they do now. That must be the real meaning of going with the flow. We need to accept the things we cannot change and have the courage to change the things we can. That mantra that has helped me through many good times and bad. Until then, I am thankful for another day. And for another cup of morning Joe. I just need to decide which Christmas mug I want to drink with it today.