In New England towns the seasons are usually clearly defined, almost delineated, even when one seems to flow easily into another. This year has been an anomaly; summer seemed to go on forever. Now in late November it’s interesting how relatively bleak everything suddenly seems; it’s hard to remember the lush greenery we enjoyed in September and the golden colors of October. I suppose that’s why human beings in this climate have always needed winter festivals of one sort or another.
Our Puritan ancestors didn’t celebrate with gaiety and color, not even at Christmas, I’ve read. The festivities that went on in England, their native land, must have seemed irreligious, probably blasphemous, to them–and most are pagan in origin, so the reasoning is understandable though not sympathetic. In fact, I don’t know of anything that drew our Puritan forefathers from their somewhat narrowly defined focus on the virtuous life. Yet we owe them much for their strength in the founding days of this country.
There’s not much left of the Puritan influence now in Suffield. The old homes that have survived are from a later period. No small town is isolated today in the way it would have been in the 1600’s. The fact is, in 2022 we can’t get away from each other or from the forces that push us to and fro. In American history there have been other difficult political scenes, other politicians at one another’s throats, other incivilities committed in the name of patriotism–but never available to all on television screens every morning, noon, and night, and never as intrusive through other media as they are now.
There are many so-named senior citizens in Suffield, those of us who have lived through many decades. I guess you could say that we are in the winter of life, just as the weather will soon reflect. Change is hard for us, and rightly so, because it often represents loss: climate change, change in the national and local political tone, change in our financial security, and of course the finality of changes brought about by illness and death. Some of us are sustained by religion; some by family; some by friends; many by a combination of those factors.
We are fortunate that our lives are not in danger on a daily basis, as they are for older Ukrainians. We are fortunate to live in relative comfort. We are fortunate to enjoy the natural beauty of this part of the world. At this writing the Thanksgiving season lies just ahead, an opportunity to acknowledge and savor what we appreciate. I am hoping that the grim negatives looming over us can be outweighed by the many positives that we have enjoyed in the past and that which are still available to us. We can’t have life as it used to be, and the good old days were probably not all that good anyway, but maybe in our own lives and in our own circles we can reclaim some of what has been lost. Maybe by not focusing on what has been lost, we can focus on what is still possible.