WELCOME to my favorite season – Fall! For some reason Fall just seems to open the door to all things good and cozy. It’s nature’s reward for enduring a long, hot summer, and a signal that the holidays are just around the corner. The leaves model their new Fall wardrobe as they twist and turn in the crisp autumn air. It’s nature’s biggest fashion show and the “in” colors are red, yellow and orange.
When I was a kid, autumn meant hayrides with the church youth group. I can still remember the laughter and the musty sweet smell of hay as the wagon bumped and creaked along under the welcome light of a harvest moon on an otherwise pitch-black country road. I can remember the crackle and glow of a bonfire and the hot, sticky “goo” of marshmallows roasted on a stick and someone always starting a round of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
One of my fondest autumn memories is when we all piled into the car at 6:00 a.m. one chilly October morning and drove to a rural park. We cooked breakfast over an open fire – bacon and eggs, biscuits and gravy. (Of course, by “we”, I mean my mother and my older sister. I was official taste tester.) We were bundled up in jackets and blankets, and as cold as it was, the passersby must have thought we were crazy…but breakfast never tasted so good! Even now, wrapping my hands around a cup of hot cocoa is still a reminder of that day.
As autumn deepened and the leaves fell from the trees, I remember the crunch and shuffle of leaves under my feet. I can still see them as they blow from the mountainous piles dad raked up to swirl and bob in the air like thousands of little kites. I can still see them as they tag and chase each other in the street like children at play.
Why did God go to the trouble of creating Autumn? Maybe it’s His way of saying that sometimes it’s okay to just let things “fall”. In this wild and hurried life we are bombarded with responsibilities. The list of “must do’s and should do’s” grows longer every day. Our plates are full, and someone is always trying to dish up a side plate of things for us to do in our “spare time”. The problem is, there is no spare time, and very often our families are left in the emotional wake of our bad day boat. Why do we feel so guilty about leaving things undone to spend time with family?
Remembering my childhood at home, yes, the fence needed to be repaired and the eaves could have used a fresh coat of paint….but I’ve got to tell you, the picture of my dad that warms my heart is not the one where he’s up on a ladder painting the house. It’s the one of my little sister up in his lap playing “Concentration”. It’s the one where he’s pulling us in a wagon or on a sled when Fall gave way to Winter. It’s the one where he’s pumping up bicycle tires and fiddling with training wheels. Paint chips and fades. Fences fall into disrepair again, but time spent with family leaves a permanent mark that years can’t erase.
Yes, mom could have kept the ironing caught up and the closets organized. She could have alphabetized the canned goods and chased down every speck of dust; but then she wouldn’t have had time for the really important things – like teaching me embroidery stitches and how to roll out cookie dough. There wouldn’t have been time for singing silly songs like “Chickery Chick, Chi-la, Chi-la, Check-a-la-roma in a bananika, bollicka, wollicka, can’t you see, chickery chick is me”. There wouldn’t have been time for stories about the billy goat who ate Aunt Mabel’s piecrust or the bear in the road as she walked the five miles home from church one night. There wouldn’t have been time for her to share how the Lord used a big bag of grain to show her how she would feel when she got saved. Those things are treasures to me.
I guarantee you, when I bounded in the door from school, I didn’t care about the dishes in the sink. I was too enthralled with the scent of fresh cinnamon rolls in the oven, and although I probably never said so, I was impressed that she would stop what she was doing and take time to do that for us. Then at the end of the day, bedtime Bible stories and prayers were much higher on her list than piles of laundry, and that priority has served her five children well.
My mom and my grandmother were pretty much cut from the same cloth. They both knew a secret about “housekeeping” that many never learn. Cobwebs, though they appear quite fragile, are really very hardy. Left alone, they will thrive and grow and tomorrow they will still be there. Your children will not.
Maybe we should be more concerned with “homekeeping” rather than “housekeeping”.
Oh, I’m not advocating that we all just let our homes and businesses go to the dogs. I’m just wondering if life would be less stressful and more joyful if, like Autumn, we just let things “FALL” for a season.