The weather has significantly dropped over the last few weeks and it is now my favorite time of the year: FALL! I absolutely adore the autumn season and it's not just because my birthday falls on the 1st day of autumn, but it's because it's time to bring out sweaters, hot chocolate, apple cider, etc. For some reason the season of fall is just beautiful and relaxing. So, here are some of my favorite reasons that I enjoy when September 22nd or 23rd roles around, depending on what calendar you look at and also why I love this time of year.
I'm a sucker for a good bonfire because I can throw on one of my favorite sweaters, my favorite pair of jeans and my cowgirl boots. Nothing screams fall and living in the south like those 3 things. It is all a time honored tradition at the University of Mary Washington because the lighting of the bonfire signals the start of Homecoming which we just had 2 weeks ago. Everybody that I know loves a good bonfire and sitting or standing around the heat and the flames. To me there is something peaceful about the fire. We can all throw in something to add fuel to the flames and I always like to throw in something that signifies my past because for me, fall represents another year and throwing out last years troubles. A bonfire also brings people together, we would sing songs, make s'mores, the adults would drink and have a beer in their hands and people would just generally have a good time.
2. Hot Chocolate and Apple Cider
Growing up, hot chocolate and apple cider were a big occurrence in my family's household. We would buy it from the store or we would make it ourselves, it was always a comfort and a way to warm up the chill that would seep it's way into your bones from playing outside too long. It also goes great with the above mentioned reason: bonfires and hot chocolate and apple cider are always a good idea. It keeps you warm and makes you feel safe. There was also my favorite part about hot chocolate-MARSHMELLOWS!!!! I remember dumping half a bag into my hot chocolate as a kid and just watch them melt and then add more. Apple cider would also get assaulted with cinnamon, lots and lots of cinnamon. I just had a particular fondness for it. To this day I still use it, but in my teas when I thing I'm about to get sick or when I am sick. It's a great antibiotic.
I think fall and football go together hand and hand. Growing up, my dad and I would go to the football games put on by the local high school in my hometown and I remember freezing to death during one game and I demanded to go home, but as we were about ready to leave, the home team scored a touchdown and I decided we needed to stay because the excitement from that and the positive energy going around the stadium made me realize that that was why the team would win. Now, I'm not much of a sports girl, unless it's a sport I like, but I always rooted for the home team and they usually won. I would also watch football on the playground in elementary school when the boys would play and I just remember the injuries sustained at times. I guess I never liked the game because it was a contact sport and too many injuries for my taste. There is a song about football and it is country, but I'm a country girl, and I always loved when it would come on the radio. Kenny Chesney "Boys of Fall" and that is what my hometown is like. It's a religion in the south to appreciate the game because to many they lived it.
Ah, Halloween. Many persons' favorite time of year. I know it's my mother's. There is something about Halloween though. Both young and old can enjoy and those that fall between. I never really liked Halloween, but I participated for years. I would dress up and go trick or treating. I dressed up as a witch, the Disney princesses, a spy, a veterinarian, a doctor. While I never liked the scarring, I liked the treats. The neighborhood I lived in growing up was the place where everyone in the city flocked to because that was where you got the most candy. The streets would be lined up bumper to bumper and the sidewalks were always so crowded with people, especially when it got darker, that's why my parent would always take the kids early in the evening because then there were parties to go to or there was candy to pass out. When I got older, we would decorate the house, leave candy on the porch, turn off the lights and go out to dinner and then stay far away from our house until after most of the trick or treaters left. It just got to a point where we were bombarded with children. Sometimes people would run out of candy long before the night was over. I do enjoy the holiday though. I guess I inherited my mom's sense of the holiday. She likes it for the decorations.
Growing up, my elementary school had a fall carnival/fall festival, whatever you want to call it. It was this huge event that everyone looked forward to, not just the kids, the teachers and the parents were always so excited the week leading up to it. I always loved it. My dad and y uncle would always help at it. My family would make gallons of stew and it was so good that people always asked for the recipe and all throughout my time in elementary school they were invited and asked to make the stew. It sold quickly. I remember getting up at 7 in the morning to be at school and would watch as my dad and uncle would stand over this huge cast iron or metal vat and just add ingredient after ingredient. I grew up on that stew and always looked forward to when they made it because it was part of my childhood and what embodied Fall. There was always fun to be had. A few times the school would bring in a petting zoo and one year they brought in horses for us to ride on the playground. Another one of my favorite memories of fall carnival was the cake walk. I always won something and if you've never done one, well you need to. The school always added something different to the carnival. We had people in costumes and witches reading us stories. I lived for Fall Carnival what I wouldn't do to be a kid again.
Now, nothing for me says Fall like Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving. It ranks #4 on my favorite holidays list. Thanksgiving for me has always been a time with family. Some years we celebrate with our family and other years we celebrate with family friends who for me are part of my family because I've know them since I was born. Thanksgiving is when we pull out the good China and it's a huge elaborate feast. My favorite food is the stuffing, turkey and rolls that are at the dinner table. Our family would get up early in the morning and my parents would drop me off to play with my "sisters" and then they would come back a couple hours later and they would help in the kitchen or talk to the other adults and then we would all sit down to dinner. The children were never allowed to eat at the grown-ups table until we were about 11 or 12, so we would eat at the kitchen table. We would sit around and talk and have a good time and stuff ourselves to a bursting point. There were more than a few times in later years where I thought I should be wearing elastic waist pants like Joey did in Friends. When we thought we couldn't eat more, that was when dessert was brought out and is usually consisted of apple pie and we were saying we still have room. Then an hour later we're going back and eating more food. Children are obviously bottomless pits. Once dinner was done, the children would play more and then I would spend the night and then we were up bright and early to go Christmas shopping. As soon as one holiday is done, another starts up. So, this year enjoy the time you spend together with your family and remember don't be a Monica and cut off someone's toe with a knife.
7. Christmas in the Fall
I know many people who as soon as Halloween is over begin to put up their Christmas decorations. I'm okay with that. What bothers me is when the Christmas decorations are out before Halloween. I mean people, let one holiday get over with before you jump onto the next one. But I will say that as soon as Halloween is over, I'm singing Christmas songs. November 1st is where I begin pulling out Christmas albums and singing "White Christmas" or "Jingle Bells". I'm a sucker for Christmas and the music that goes along with it. My family though, we don't start to decorate until the actual Christmas season. We have a tradition and that tradition we stick to religiously. No, Christmas tree or decorations until the first of December and no tree until the 2nd week. It's a system that has been around since my dad and my uncle were born. But I think that it's what makes Fall well, Fall. People decorating early and getting it out of the way. There are times I have seen Christmas decorations up before Halloween, but it makes me love the season more, because it's what people do and it's what they'll always do.
The Nightmare Before Christmas; a movie you can watch either during Halloween or Christmas. That is something else I enjoy during this season. Movies such as Hocus Locus and Halloweentown...and Hallmark Movies. I know, I know, Hallmark is for older women who don't have a life, but I love the movies that come out starting in August and then the Count Down to Christmas with all the new movies. It makes me enjoy the season because while they stick to similar themes and ideas at times, it's always so sweet and such a joy to experience the magic that exists even if it's not real. For an hour and a-half we can pretend it is and become part of the story. I honestly watch Hallmark movies that are intended for the Fall and Christmas in the summer. I start watching them in July, but now I have an excuse to watch them again or the new ones because no one can tire of Hallmark movies.
And finally the reason Fall is Fall. I love it when the leaves change from green to orange, red, yellow and then fall to the ground. It's nature's grand finale. As the leaves fall it means a new year is soon approaching. I love to walk sidewalks lined with trees and see the squirrels chasing each other and see the birds flying or nesting in the trees. It's a calming affect to sit under a tree with red and orange leaves and read a book or work on homework. There's a tree here at school that I sit under and just pass the afternoon away. Fall is fall and will always be fall. The leaves falling represent one thing ending and another beginning. The cool crisp autumn air fills me with joy and I like to walk to tree lined lanes wrapped in a sweater and boots remembering it all.