I have a confession to make (feel free to clutch your pumpkin spice lattes): I don’t love fall. In some ways, I kind of hate it.
It’s the weirdest thing, because I love almost all of the individual elements of fall. I love sweatshirt weather, and breaking out my favorite hoodies. I love sweaters and cozy blankets. I love the color of the sky in fall, when it is so vibrantly blue against the changing leaves. I can’t get enough of the changing leaves. They are just magical. I like fall food. Correction, I love love LOVE fall food.
Here comes an entire paragraph dedicated to fall food. SOUP. All of the soup. I love making–and eating–all of the soups and stews. I think soup should be its own food group (same with tacos, but stay focused). My kids have learned to love soup, because that’s what’s for dinner. Like a good Minnesotan, my recipes in order of volume go: desserts, soups, breads, hotdishes. It’s pumpkin season, which means it’s time for pumpkin muffins, pancakes, and waffles. There will be pumpkin bread and pumpkin roll. There will be pumpkin bars that disappear within 2 hours of being baked. And of course the apples. We go through bags and bags of fresh apples, that we insist on buying at the orchard, and snack on all times of the day. I make and can applesauce and the house smells like we’ve died and gone to cozy autumn heaven.
Did I mention that fall means the return of football season? No matter how disappointed I get with the Vikings, and how many times they let me down and make me want to shred my purple shirts, I just can’t quit. Every September, I am filled with fresh optimism that THIS WILL BE THE YEAR. I love football season!
Fall means there are mums and pumpkins on my front step, and the few pieces of fall décor that I have get strategically placed around the house. It’s cozy, and cute.
But I still hate it. In spite of loving so many things about fall, I just can’t quit hating it. I hang onto summer and the sunshine by my fingertips. As the days get shorter and shorter, and the frosts turn to hard freezes, I hate it even more. The birds flock together and head south en masse, leaving a lonely silence in their wake. The gardens I worked so hard in for the last 4-5 months freeze, and turn brown. The leaves that were so gloriously vibrant fall to the ground, leaving bare sticks. Daylight savings means we “fall back,” and soon it’s dark by 5:00pm. November usually rolls in with flat, cold gray skies. We spend more time indoors, and less time outside. We break out the coats. First, the lighter jackets, then the full on winter coats. I’m not ready. I’m never ready.
Last year, my oldest son and I had lots of discussions about this very thing, because he and I seem to go into mourning with the end of summer. I think it comes down to: we hate when really good things end. And while the end of one good thing in no way means that there aren’t other good things ahead, we struggle to see them sometimes.
A few years ago, we decided as a family that we needed something fun and exciting to look forward to in the fall, and help us with our summer-is-over sadness. So, Fall Fest was born. We get together with my parents and siblings and their kids, and we spend a weekend making our own fall fest. We cook awesome fall foods, and eat more pumpkin bars and pumpkin roll than any group of humans ever should. We make soup. We play minute-to-win-it games, complete with stupid/hilarious prizes, like rubber chickens and poop-emoji hats. We’ve bobbed for apples, gone to pumpkin patches, done 3-legged races, sack races, marshmallow toss, stacked cups, paper airplane toss, and taken naps while watching football. It’s become one of our tippy-top favorite family traditions. We start talking about it mid-summer, and plan for all of the fun things we’re going to do.
This year, things will look different of course, but since this is really an at-home “event,” it’s very adaptable to a COVID year. We all need things to look forward to, so pick a weekend and plan your own little Fall Fest with your family, no matter how small. Play dumb games, win silly prizes. Eat all of the pumpkin and apple goodness you can hold. Make fall crafts, or carve pumpkins. Get your littles hyped up about it! This is one new family tradition you’ll be so glad you started.