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Traditions Kept And Broken

October 14, 2019

It’s fall. That means cooler weather, football, leaves turning, canning and thoughts of Christmas.

Well, almost.

We broke a tradition this year. Our canner and our juicer are staying put on the shelf. Not a quart of peaches, or apples or our famous grape juice.

It’s not because we didn’t have the fruit. There were grapes to be had for the picking. An entire apple orchard about two blocks from house has gone unpicked two years in a row. We could literally pick more than we could can in a month.

I’m not completely sure why we aren’t canning this year. It was just. . .too much. One more thing. It’s been a busy summer. I’ve travelled nearly every other week. My lovely wife has kept house and home together even has her health has gone up and down.

My aunt has the grapes. Each year she tells me when they are ripe. She lives in Salt Lake City, about 30 miles from us. Picking grapes is simple, if somewhat tedious. And the process of turning it into juice is a simple process that I actually enjoy. It takes about an hour per gallon. We typically picked about 4 bushels and got about 13 gallons out of that.

Last year we did about 8 bushels and 25 gallons. We still have plenty. I guess we won’t miss not having the 2019 season canned. We’ve still got plenty of the 2018 to last.

Applesause are best done as a family affair. It’s much more involved than grapes. It takes hours and a lot of people. We have the people, but we just aren’t up to getting everything put in place.

Does this mean we are getting old? Or tired? Or perhaps both.

We aren’t really cancelling the tradition, only postponing it. Or so, I’m telling myself now. We’ll see next year.

However, I have started in on keeping track of another tradition. Readers of these scribblings know I love to work on cars. Even this weekend I changed the oil in one, ordered parts for two others. Helped my daughter fill the AC on hers. And I didn’t get half of the items on my car list completed. That’s the beauty of having running cars; you can afford to only get part way through the list.

But, I also enjoy woodworking. In fact, I have often created Christmas gifts in my workshop. My most complex project was a footlocker that I designed and built. I’ve actually built three. The first one I made for one of my sons. It was the first one I’d ever done. I tend to build things according to the “Helicoptor Standard.”

HELICOPTOR STANDARD: Built strong enough to support a helicoptor.

It meant his footlocker was strong. . .and heavy. With the later ones I managed to keep the strength and cut down on the weight.

I actually haven’t done much with woodworking for over a year. I have a multi-function woodworking tool called a Shopsmith. It’s a tablesaw, a drillpress, a bandsaw, and several other tools. It’s been broken. It would start, but as soon as I put it underload, as soon as I actually tried to do anything with it, it would blow my circuit breaker. The Shopsmith weights about 200 lbs and isn’t easy to move. I threw a tarp over it and thought, “I’ll get to it someday.”

This weekend was someday. I pulled the motor out to figure out what was broken. Being a woodworking tool, it was very dusty. First thing I had to do was blow off 20 years of sawdust and dirt.

When I finished blowing all the sawdust off, the motor looked fine. Because it was. Turns out that was literally all it needed. I put it back into the housing and I no longer had an excuse to not start in on Christmas gifts.

I’m building more footlockers year. Along with shelves and boxes and maybe some some carved names. Yesterday I completed a support platform for our garage deep freezer. It was a simple project and supported by 4×4 posts. Yes, I’m pretty confident a helicoptor could land on it.

A few years ago we had a Christmas where everyone made handmade gifts for each other. We draw names for Christmas. But, it’s a secret who has your name. One of my daughters had me make a pencil holder shaped like a car for her to give to the person who’s name she had.

Yup, I got a car shaped pencil holder for Christmas that year.

So, we’ll continue some traditions this year and skip some other ones. The point is to make the traditions brighten the holidays. If they are a chore, it defeats the entire purpose of having them in the first place.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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