Harvest festival. Corn dollies, scarecrows and all manner of crafting entertainment for kids. The time of year that signals Autumn's arrival more than any other.
I can recall being no more than about 5 years old when a shoe box full of stuff (that bore no resemblance to actual shoes) was thrust into my tiny arms by my mother. I remember this particularly well because there was no warning from she-who-must-be-obeyed of the weight of the non-shoe contents therein. A sudden gravitational lurching was the result of this unholy half-tonne parcel hitting my puny child arms. Upon further inspection it transpired that the box was crammed with tinned foodstuffs, toiletries and cleaning products. This, for a 5-year-old, was puzzling in the extreme.
The mystery was finally solved when I was later ushered to the front of the church with my hefty haul. It seemed that my mother was not alone in her random shoe-box filling. Indeed, the church was awash with boxes and baskets of child-torturing proportions. "For the old folks," I was prompted. "Oh....Huh?" I thought.
It seemed like old folks must be very partial to soup at that moment in time. No teeth, see? We held the European soup mountain surplus right there in that tiny church hall in middle England that day in 1972.
And here I am today, in another town, another church, as a grown woman with slightly less puny arms thrusting an equally hefty box into the hands of my own small doppelgänger. I have only just realised (bit late) that he must have been as mystified as I was all those years ago by the weight of the package and the meaning of its sudden appearance.
This is my son's first Harvest Festival and it seems we're doing it 2011 stylee! No "All things bright and beautiful" here, my friends. Our children are digging up ACTUAL carrots and potatoes from REAL soil in the MIDDLE of the church aisle. The carpet is spotted with ground-in mud and mothers are wincing as their little hands are being wiped up and down their formerly pristine school uniforms. They are singing about 'shopping in our trolley' and they are holding giant floppy carrot banners aloft. Parents are cheering each time a new potato emerges from the sack and the children parade them up and down the church pews. And it's absolutely fantastic!
By George, things have changed since 1972! And how! All from the crazed mind of a teacher. The less said, the better?
I never forgot the tinned soup. I am sure that these children will never forget their first Harvest.
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