LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
We've been listening to anxious news from Europe for a while now - a grim message hovering on the edges of our minds about possibly being dragged into more financial disorder by one or more members of Europe's dysfunctional family. And we're watching the Republican candidates struggle to gain ground in a race where potential voters appear to change their minds every few minutes - and without much enthusiasm. But I have to say things look remarkably good in the face of this uneasy season because the season is fall, autumn.
We're reading new books for a new school year. We're right between two holidays which are our national favorites - Halloween and Thanksgiving - and the weather is changing in a wonderful way - at least here in Washington. Yesterday, I walked out of the house and almost tripped in my effort not to step on a perfect maple leaf that blew up on the porch in the night. It was as large as my hand and yellow as butter. It made me smile and sent me on my way. A simple gift.
Growing up in New Mexico, this was also the season when our house began to smell strongly of bourbon. My dad had a neighborhood grocery store and my mom made fruitcake as gifts for customers. Now, this was great fruitcake - lemon flavored, golden colored, only the good kinds of fruit, none of that bitter, break your tooth kind. Of course, we didn't pay retail for all that candied fruit. The cakes had to be baked, wrapped in tea towels and sprinkled with bourbon and stored for a month or so. Another relatively simple gift - homemade. Now in this economy, keeping things simple is a necessity for many people, even people who still have their jobs have concerns about living like they used to do. We are saving more and are thinking before we buy something big. Although many people have found themselves in financial trouble for something they could not control - a business closing, moving, downsizing - people appear to be reconsidering what they can control - taking responsibility, as all these candidates like to say.
But it may be more than that. It may be that we've turned some kind of corner, that we've changed the way we think - at least a little bit. Instead of waiting for things to be as good for us as they used to be, maybe we're redefining good.
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