This post is part of the Multicultural Kids Blogging Carnival, hosted this month by Stephanie at InCultureParent.
We are enjoying our first real fall in a long time. In San Diego, the seasonal shifts were so subtle I hardly noticed them. This year, I greet fall in Colorado with wide, appreciative eyes. I love the changes, the reminder that time is passing, that seasons are changing; I feel it in my core, the physical linking of nature with the rhythm of our lives.
Autumn brings a season full of uniquely American traditions; fun times filled with celebration, friends, and family. Back to school time comes with the smell of fresh cut grass on the football fields and Friday night games. I don’t watch much football anymore, but I love the idea of it. I love the energy around the games, the tradition, the cheering crowds. Seeing stadium lights, even from a distance, sends a tingle of excitement up my spine, just as it did when I was a teenager going to my high school games. I romanticize it all; the injuries are much less glamorous… I’ve seen too many of those in my days working the sidelines and helping out at Saturday morning injury clinics. I plan to do everything I can to make sure football remains a spectator sport only for us all, but I digress.
In October, we hit the pumpkin patches to find the perfect future Jack-o-Lantern, along with gourds for our mantel. We run through hay bale mazes with the kids, pretending to get lost so they can show us the way out. We go apple picking, and then I try out all sorts of new recipes trying to make sure the bags full of apples we found don’t go to waste. We have friends over for pumpkin carving parties where the kids, because they are young, grow quickly bored, and we adults carve self-proclaimed masterpieces over pizza and beer.
Trick or Treating – my kids are finally old enough for this! My daughter practiced for days before Halloween – knocking on all the doors in the house, calling out “Trick or Treat!” Then the day finally came, and we took them around our block, proud parents of our adorable costumed cherubs. We ended up with way too much candy for such little ones – a 3-year-old and 18-month-old; or at least this is how I justify raiding their bags and gorging on chocolate during their naps. I love Halloween.
New tradition this year: raking up the leaves and jumping in them. I have never, in (indistinct mumble) years, had the opportunity to do this. So when my husband finished raking all the stray leaves into a tidy pile, I had to exercise some serious restraint to let my kids dive in first, before me. We jumped, rolled, buried ourselves, and tossed those leaves around, cracking each other up.
In San Diego, I would still be wearing tank tops and flip-flops. Here, though, I’ve put those away. I’ve never lived in a place where people actually pack clothes away for an entire season. Colorado weather is wonky enough that a flip flop worthy day is still possible. But I have enjoyed actually needing my scarves and sweaters, rather than wearing them just because “ ‘tis the season” as I did in San Diego.
Next up – Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving. I love the relaxed nature of the day; any day centered on food is a good day, as far as I’m concerned. We travel to Arizona each year to spend this holiday with my large extended family – it’s often the only day all year that we see many of them, as we live far enough apart that get togethers are few. When I was growing up, we’d all meet at Grandma and Grandpa’s house – over the river and through the woods. Later my aunt took over hostess duties, but the last couple years, we’ve had it at my mom and dad’s place. My husband and I try to take the kids out in the morning for a hike or walk where we point out the unique beauty of the Arizona desert and try to get enough exercise to justify the ridiculous amount of food we will most definitely be eating.
I’ve explained to my kids that the weather is growing colder, the days are getting shorter, and the leaves are changing colors and falling from the trees because it’s fall. My daughter is fascinated by all of this – she never saw any of this in California, so she loves to point out the leaves blowing around the neighborhood and tell me it’s fall. As with so much of parenting, her awareness, the way she completely inhabits a moment with her whole being, helps me to slow down and enjoy it all, too. And as the kids get older, each fall tradition becomes more meaningful. Going back to school isn’t just a date in the calendar, it’s an event my kids take part in. On Halloween, we’re now part of the crew of neighborhood kids. Thanksgiving, I do my best to convince them that stuffing is the absolute best part of the meal, and that piling as much whip cream on a slice of pumpkin pie as possible makes for a perfect dessert.
I love fall. Even better now that I have kids to experience it with. For them – it’s all new and exciting. For me, it’s exciting all over again, as I see it through their innocent and alert eyes that don’t miss anything. They aren’t worrying about bills or getting home in time to cook dinner, they’re picking up a fallen leaf and examining every vein and edge, then showing it to me with delighted grins. The delight is infectious, and a reminder, along with the season itself, to slow down and enjoy it all.