The October Harvest of Cousins

October is always busy in any home.

Summer winds down and Fall saunters in, when the children go back to school, but, if you are empty nesters like MiLady and I, Summer hightails it out like a frightened rabbit at the first onset of cold-snap weather: it’s the premature snowfall that arrives overnight, unannounced by the weatherman, in the first ten days of the month and lasts about 72 hours!

It’s this little inconvenience that adds further annoyance for anybunny that lives above the 49th Parallel (Canada), because “It’s just a little snow” can be as little as dustcover on the ground, up to 30+centimeters (12+inches for my American friends) and falling faster than you can shovel half of your driveway!

Early October snow is not welcome here because it hinders Thanksgiving. Yes, Canadians celebrate early (the second Monday in October) to avoid snow hazards … maybe we should try late September, next year?

This time is always precious because some family that you very seldom see, join your celebrations, as Christmas is not safe for them to travel due to health reasons, or because of poor road conditions and the inclement weather. 

Thanksgiving has been a time, at least throughout my upbringing, that every family brings a side dish of something with them: great great Nana Rabbit’s sweet crab dip, grand Aunt E’s maple apple-rhubarb tartlets, and (my) Mama Rabbit’s coffee cookies are staples as common as a huge bowl of mash (potatoes), 3 apple stuffing, gravy and homemade bread and pies! (And does anybunny notice, there’s far too much food than there is table and counter space, or is it just me?).

Of course, as the attendees get older, the appetites get a little bigger and beverage consumption is more refined, meaning who remembers how to make Gramma Rabbit’s Wassail? (Shh, don’t tell: I do!).

Then, contented wee ones begin falling to sleep, and the not-so-wee-ones sit in pairs up the staircase with their siblings and cousins, playing their iPads, iPods, iPhones or tablets (because, Egads, they can’t be seen sitting in the same room as The Old Ones!).

[It is an unfortunate definition of an Old One: when you are the oldest living in your line, but not necessarily a grandparent. It is a title many of us hate, as it is realized after the loss of both parents: in my case, Dad (2003) and Mama Rabbit (2016)].

So, when The Old Ones have gathered in the living room, and the meal compliments and recipe requests begin, wine glasses are often replaced with coffee mugs and tea cups. Then you know a great transition has taken place, when there is less talk of funerals and more regarding weddings and the births of grandchildren.

YOUR children’s weddings and the births of YOUR grandchildren. 

Everybunny feels the emptiness. It is very difficult to deny, especially when you gather in that same big house, (which doesn’t seem so big anymore), where all 15 of you had screamed bloody blue murder across the acreage, as your fathers sat, beers in hand, gathered around the firepit “supervising,” while your mothers were indoors preparing the evening meal, every year since as far back as you can remember … before the house fire and after.

Once in a while, a question is asked that refers to a time when we should be far-too-young-to-remember, but is heartwarming when a few can share bits that when pieced together makes an amusing story, and explains why certain names, or nicknames, were given and carried on through the generations!

A round of hearty laughter brings the younger ones in curious as to what is so funny, but the elementary ages are only interested in pie and ice cream, while secondary and older ones are amused that their eight-year-old grandfather almost burnt down the barn trying to smoke a cigarette!

Shuffling into the kitchen, pie, ice cream, cake and cookies are dished out to all who are still hungry.

Then the time everybunny dreads: when leftovers are plated and covered, ready for visitors to take home. When hearts are heavy and sometimes so close to breaking, as goodbyes, hugs, kisses and a few tears, are exchanged.

[And not a Kleenex box in sight, dammit!]


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