Tag Archives: autumn

Remember When: The Joys of Halloween

I remember long-ago nights when, accompanied by my siblings and friends, I walked through the streets of our neighborhood, dressed in an outlandish fashion and carrying a plastic jack-o-lantern.  There were usually a few parents along for the trip, but we didn’t fear the night, because surely our large contingent of monsters could handle any truly scary denizens of the dark.

I remember the excitement I felt as a child as I chose a new identity, a new persona I would become, if only for one night. Simply by putting on different clothes, a mask, a wig or a hat, my mind was free to imagine, and I took advantage of the situation to act, to pretend, to become someone new.

Once our baskets were full and we had paid homage to every last house in sight that displayed a lit front porch light, it was time to return home, where our bounty could be inspected before we secreted it away, and removed our costumes and wigs, ready to be ourselves again.

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These kids are ready for some Halloween fun! Photo by muffinn on Foter.com / CC BY

It’s October, and as I wander the aisles of my favorite stores, the displays of colorful seasonal merchandise take me back to those treasured memories of my childhood.  I’m not talking about the bountiful Christmas decorations that are often exhibited side-by-side with the other stuff, but rather those items strictly designed especially for the period that begins with the start of autumn and that we are usually ready to store, or dispose of, by Thanksgiving at the latest.

Halloween has always been one of my favorite times of the year, from the neighborhood camaraderie generated by the descending hordes of costumed children seeking sugar, to the imaginative and eye-catching displays some of our neighbors create to entertain, and to scare.

Halloween is one of the few excuses we adults get when it is socially acceptable (aside from Comic-con or Renaissance Fairs) for children and children at heart of all ages to become someone else for a little while.  One simply needs to don a mask, and live out a fantasy.  Pick up a wand or sword, and become a new character.  Put on a costume, and revisit childhood and the world of let’s pretend.

Who would you choose to be if you could become someone else, temporarily?  Would you choose to be your favorite character from a book, movie or television show?  Would you choose an archetypal character like a generic vampire or pirate?  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wander around or simply answer the door as a zombie, a werewolf, or a fairy godmother?

Let’s take this occasion to fantasize, to remember, to return to when life was filled with the joy of imagination.  If you have the opportunity to attend a work or community event where you can dress up for a night, why not take advantage?  Remember for a little while the joy that comes from such a freeing activity.

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Make Halloween a family affair, so everyone can have fun! Photo by Ric Charlton on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

If you have children you can take door to door, or through the local mall for trick or treating, consider coordinating costumes with them.  I have seen some really cute theme costumes in the past, where every member of a family became a character from The Wizard of Oz, or Star Wars, or Marvel.

Take pleasure in using your imagination.  Even if you don’t go out, you always can dress up to hand out candy this year.  You may find that you enjoy the thrill your guests get from seeing you as you answer the door.  Whatever you choose to do this year, have fun.  After all, that’s what Halloween is really all about.

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Family-Friendly Fall Activities

September in the Midwest brings with it a relief from the humidity and a slight drop in temperatures as we meander ever-closer to the beginning of autumn.  This gentle change in the weather is the perfect backdrop for a number of activities especially suited to the harvest season.  Here are just a few ideas of ways to spend quality time in the great outdoors with your loved ones this time of year.

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Go ahead and jump in that pile of leaves-we won’t tell! Photo by christielockwood on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Sunny fall afternoons offer the perfect excuse to breathe in the crisp air and enjoy some lawn games with your family.  Bring out a ball to toss or kick around, or play an old-fashioned game of tag.  Outdoor games such as cornhole, which involves aiming beanbags through a wooden target, are a good choice that can appeal to all ages and skill levels.  Take time to appreciate the colorful foliage, by letting little ones collect pretty leaves, and perhaps joining them in jumping in a pile.

Chilly autumn nights are the perfect time to utilize that fire pit on the deck or in the backyard.   Settle down with your loves ones for an evening of s’mores and sharing your favorite ghost story.  Many communities will host bonfires in the fall, often in celebration of back-to-school or in support of a local sporting event.  Check local listings for events, and don’t forget to pack lawn chairs. A blanket may come in handy as the temperature drops, too.

Feed your artistic side by carving a pumpkin.  While this can be done indoors, it’s often easier to move outside, especially with younger helpers participating!  Pick up pumpkins at a local grocery, nursery, or farm, and use your imagination.  Kitchen knives work well but specialty carving kits are easy to find, as are carving tips and designs in magazines and online sources such as Pinterest.

Everett Carving His Pumpkin
Every jack-o-lantern is unique, just like its creator.  Photo by Joe Shlabotnik on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

If you want to make a pumpkin creation that will last beyond the season, faux pumpkins make of foam, cardboard, and wood are available from your local craft store, and can be decorated with carving tools, paint, and any type of decoration you desire.

Visit a nearby farm.  Check directory listings for rural venues that offer special seasonal events.  Many of these destinations will feature attractions tailored for families, such as hayrides and corn mazes.  Spend an afternoon picking apples, selecting a pumpkin straight from the patch, or wandering through displays of colorful fall flowers.  As the sun goes down, warm up with a mug of hot apple cider or cocoa, before you carry your bounty home.

The varieties of activities that are available to make the most of nature and the harvest season are as unlimited as the autumnal colors surrounding us.  I hope you can take time to breathe in the cool air, smell the falling leaves, and spend some precious time with your loved ones today.

Amy

Is it too Soon to Get into the Autumn Spirit?

September has arrived, and while the temperatures here are still in the nineties mid-day, school is officially back in session and everywhere I turn, I’m beginning to see signs of the impending autumn season.

I don’t just mean the planter full of mums I just put out front, either.  A visit to nearby Target or Meijer will showcase a clearance rack of back-to-school needs, alongside half-stocked display shelves full of costumes, decorations, and knickknacks styled for the upcoming fall, and sometimes winter seasons.  The local gardening stores have begun to carry planters filled with seasonal foliage, and grocery stores are already stocking decorative pumpkins in the produce aisle.

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This little one is getting into the spirit of the season! Photo on Foter.com

I ask you, is it too early to decorate for fall?  Is it too soon to pull out the orange candles, the colorful silk leaves and plastic spiders?  Is it time yet to think about Halloween costumes, and where to hide the candy so it actually survives long enough to be handed out to trick-or-treaters?

I tend to go a little overboard when it comes to fall.  The drop in temperatures invigorates me, and I absolutely love the colors, the smells, and the foods of the season.  As my family can attest, this is hardly a new phenomenon for me.  I’ve had the habit since I was a child, and I shared the love with my own kids, to the point we have nearly as many boxes of decorations and paraphernalia for fall and Halloween as we do for Christmas.

To me Halloween has always symbolized a freedom of expression- the one time of year (other than Comic-con or Renaissance Fairs) when it’s socially acceptable to become someone else, for just a little while.  It’s okay to live a fantasy, to act out a favorite character, to revisit the childhood joy of make-believe and imaginative play.  That’s why I tend to dress up, even if I’m just handing out candy, because why should the kids have all the fun?

So while I’m going about my daily tasks, I’m also planning the display we’ll set up this year, the costumes I need to get or make, and estimating how much candy to buy.  I’ll be digging through my recipes to make my special pumpkin coffee cake, and choosing between recipes for pecan pie.  Of course, once fall officially arrives later this month, I’ll have planning for Thanksgiving to do, too, and then the winter holidays.  The next few months are going to be busy!