Growing up, September was Birthday Season in my household. It started with my sister's birthday on September 16th. A week later was my mother's birthday. One week after that was my birthday. More importantly than being Birthday Season, it was Cake Season. We are a family of dessert lovers.
I have been reflecting on mom as her September 24th birthdate approached. The reflecting went along the sentimental lines of this: “What kind of cake should I eat in memory of her on her birthday?” My second thought, being a lover of words as well as dessert, was this: “What base element could I use to make a word matrix for her birthday?” <birth> and <day> seemed too generic. <hap> as in <hap(p) + y → happy> seemed too esoteric if my audience wasn't up on their final consonant doubling rules. Finally, I considered some celebratory words which led me to <festival> which led me to <fiesta>.
The first car I remember being exclusively my mom's was a fire-engine red Ford Fiesta. It was the sport model. “Sport” and “Ford Fiesta” seem a bit oxymoronic. I don’t quite remember, but I suppose the “sport” part might have meant it had a spoiler on the back to keep the car from flipping when we broke the 25 mph mark as we passed the Dairy Dandy. It was a freezing little icebox in the winter and the radio sounded like it was being piped in through a Campbell’s Soup can. But I recall it as a source of joy for my mom. It was christened
The Fiesta was replaced by the Honda Civic and the Honda Civic was replaced by the Nissan 240 SZ convertible. Each successive car was handed down the title of The Bev-K. The latter
vehicle, purchased a year after my father passed away, was inspired by seeing Thelma and Louise at The Strand Theater in Dover. While we did drive cross-country in the convertible with my Auntie Paula in the summer of 1993, we took a rain check on driving it off into the Grand Canyon.
Pictured are The Kennie Girls keeping the spirit of The Bev-K alive.
<fiesta> is a loan word from Spanish. It is not very generative. The wonderful word collectors at Merriam-Webster list only three other words sharing that base, all Spanish loan words - the plural <fiestas> and <fiestero(s)>, the person or persons in charge of fiestas. Its etymological relative <fest> generates quite a few more words in present-day English making it more appropriate for a word matrix. So, in memory of the Ford Fiesta, a lineage of Bev-K’s, and my mom's birthday, and for the love of words, here is a word matrix for you. How many words can you make? Dictionaries aren’t cheating. If you need a refresher on the rules for making words from a word Matrix, see The Rules on this blog.
Answers: There are 13 words: fest, festa, festoon, festal, festally, festive, festival, festivals, festivity, festivities, festively, festiveness, festous.