Enter Winter

Putting the garden to bed for the winter is like saying goodbye to a friend.

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We had frost last week and I brought in the last of the tomatoes and peppers. I tried not to notice then how desolate everything was starting to look. The garden had been carpeted with various layers of leaves over the last month.  My potted plants have suffered through a scurry of squirrels digging for food.  The thyme planted in the cracks of the stone patio shed leaves and turned into tiny bare gangles between each square.  The cherry trees have lost most of their leaves and the remaining leaves are yellow or brown.  All of the flowers have died back.  I gave in yesterday and went out into the garden to collect the tomato cages and retrieve the last of the garden tools.

It may snow tomorrow.  I said goodnight to my garden until spring.  I pulled up all the remaining plants and piled them in the compost.  I collected the potted plants and turned the birdbath sideways and laid it on the ground.  With the exception of a few leaves of chard and a couple of cabbages, nothing is growing.

Winter is my least favorite season.  (Though, to be fair, after this past summer and the oppressive drought, the cool weather and rain has been welcome.)  I often find myself despairing in the winter, hiding away from the cold and making myself feel isolated and lonely.  I don’t prefer darkness and I’d rather be warm than cold.  I’d rather be planting flowers or pruning roses than snowshoeing.  I’d rather watch grass grow than stare at a warm fire.  I’m not a fan of the winter holidays.

My parents divorced when I was a kid and I learned early on that the holidays were an exercise in mitigating disappointment.  If I spent Thanksgiving with one side of the family, the other was mad that I didn’t spend it with them.  Christmas involved a lot of driving around and very specific scheduling, all of which resulted in not enough time spent with any particular part of the family.  Dreading the holidays has become a hard habit to break.

Years ago my grandfather told me that the years go by faster as you get older.  He was right.  I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is less than one week away.  I can’t believe that the holiday season is here.  I have tried to resist Christmas music for as long as possible.  Though, honestly, I’ve been singing holiday music every Monday since September because I joined the local choir.  I finally gave up today and let my wife get out the record player.

I’m looking forward to the holiday season this year.  It should be fun, if not, interesting.  For Thanksgiving, my wife and I are hosting our mothers and we are going out to eat lunch.  For dessert, I ordered two pies from two different locally-owned bakeries and we will likely spend the evening playing cards or making a puzzle while completely high on sugar.

For Christmas, my wife and I are hosting my mother and my wife’s entire family.  There will be 10-13 of us depending on RSVPs. It is going to be a challenge.  For one thing, we live in a tiny two-bedroom apartment with no living room.  Thankfully our friend has agreed to let us and some of our family members sleep in her house while she is away.  Planning for the holidays is always hard and trying to accommodate everyone—either for sleeping or for expectations—can be very trying.

If I’ve learned anything after 34 Thanksgivings and Christmases, it’s that you can’t please everyone.  All you can do is hope for the best and hide yourself a piece of pie in case you have to lock yourself in a closet for a little while.

Happy holidays.