Last night was the full moon known as the Beaver Moon. I did not know for sure why it was called that so looked it up in the Old Farmer’s Almanac, a trusted source for many years, and here’s what it said, “Full Beaver Moon – November This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.”
That set me to thinking about how we, at least in the northern hemisphere, and in the northern climes of the northern hemisphere, prepare for winter. On the farm, that preparation began with the Fall harvest, illustrated by the horn of plenty and the abundance of food. That time was also characterized by putting up hay and straw in the barn, corn into the cribs, meat into the smokehouse, wood chopped and split for stove and fireplace, and canning that had been done from the garden supply of vegetables and fruits. Those storehouses of supplies lasted well throughout the winter to feed family and animals while the ground was frozen and often covered with snow.
Thanksgiving, a time to count our blessings, in just another ten days, is also a time of gathering family and friends who sit down for a meal featuring turkey with stuffing and all the preferred side dishes of cranberry this or that, sweet potatoes, vegetables, pies and cakes and you name it. It is doubtful that the first Thanksgiving in 1621 had any turkey at all and Thanksgiving was not declared to be a national holiday until 1916. While national holidays are largely symbolic, what we make of them personally and in the context of our families is up to us. There are many ways to make them meaningful and memorable.
There is something about Fall, probably the change in the weather, that signals preparation for Winter and Thanksgiving used to be the time when it was OK to start thinking about the next holiday of Christmas. Commercial enterprise has changed much of that and now it seems the stores make the shift at Halloween as in sooner is better, at least for the cash register. Getting ready, the act of preparation, can be more important than the event itself. I think about painting, for example.
Adequate preparation is at least half the job and most of us know the adage that poor preparation leads to a poor performance or outcome. Yes, there are times when improvisation is just fine but change, whether in the seasons or in celebrations, requires a process of preparation that is valuable and worthwhile.
Here’s a final note. There appears to be some tension between all of the time and energy invested in getting ready and than being fully present in the moment for which one has prepared. Perhaps the key lies in balance and being sure we can do both with the requisite and genuine enthusiasm that makes both getting ready and celebrating truly enjoyable and even exciting. Get ready, set the table, celebrate! Share the blessing and the joy in giving thanks and give that some thought in the next ten days, and beyond.