Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fall. No...Autumn!

The leaves are changing and falling off of the trees. The air is crisp, the wind cool, the rain cold. The days are shorter and it seems as though a lot more of them are cloudy days. I used to hatehatehate this time of year.

When I was little, I lovedlovedloved it. I "helped" rake the two billion leaves that fell in our yard from the giant oak trees that surrounded our house. I warmed myself by the fire when we burned them, or helped my dad drag the tarp loaded up with wet leaves to dump "over the hill." (only Woodcliff Acres residents will understand that) We carved pumpkins for Halloween and went trick-or-treating in the dark. I was a kid, and it was awesome.

A few years ago, I wrote an essay in my hometown newspaper about driving up a certain hill at a certain time of year, and how it would just take my breath away. The myriad of colors in the trees surrounding the river would brighten even my darkest day. That hill, those colors, they mean home to me.

But somewhere along the way, I started to dislike fall. All it meant to me is that the leaves would fall off the trees and there would be barren emptyness for the next 6 months. The promise of snow usually wasn't enough to pull me out of my funk, for there was far too little and far too much time inbetween. It would be too cold and too dark to go to the park after work, or even go for a walk down the street. Mornings were darker, harder to get out of bed, and cooold.

A couple of years ago, I realized that I really, really hated fall.

My neighbor loves all holidays. LOVES. I mean, she even decorates for Valentines Day. But fall and Christmas decorations are by far her favorite. As I admired her bales of straw and colorful mums and the adorable pumpkin arrangements that she and many other people set in front of their homes, I admonished myself for not decorating. I chided myself for being a lazy homemaker. But it always seemed just too overwhelming. I told myself that "next year" I would purchase corn stalks and gourds. "Next year", I would put up Christmas lights. Next year, next year, next year.

But I am on medication now. Better medication for me. I have started a gratitude journal. Do you know what that is? Every day, you write down 5 things that you are grateful for. Every day. And you can't. ever. repeat. Like, ever. The very first thing I wrote that I was grateful for was trees whose leaves turn red in the fall, and not just brown and fall off. It really is the little things in life that are the big things.

For the longest time, I thought that my kids were supposed to "provide" me with those little things. But now I know that I am supposed to provide the little things. I am the one who has to notice the beauty of the trees, the refreshing crispness of the air, the way Kabo loves to sit outside for hours because it is so comfortable for him. I am the one who makes decorations happen, no matter how little or extravagant. And then I get to admire the decorations as an accomplishment for myself and an addition to the neighborhood.

And with that, all of the sudden, my kids are more adorable, more precious, and even funnier to me. Their excitement is invigorating. It reminds me of my youth and makes me excited to make memories for my children. (I seriously cannot wait until the girls are big enough to rake leaves. That job really sucks!) 

By taking notice of the trees with red leaves, instead of the ones whose leaves have already fallen off and are bare, I am slowly, ever so slowly, starting to think positive. No longer do I dread the -20 degree days. Instead I look forward to hot chocolate by the fire. No longer do I dread the hustle and bustle of Christmas, instead I think of all the great deals I will get shopping online! Instead of thinking that I will continue to gain weight and be unhealthy for the rest of my life, I know that if I continue to make little changes, one day I will lose weight and enjoy the effects of *shudder* exercise. (Obviously, that day isn't quite here yet.)

For now, I am definitely enjoying seeing MY bales of straw, corn stalks, mums, and little-girl arranged pumpkins every time I pull into my driveway. (And Indian corn! Who can forget the Indian corn!) I am excited for Sam's field trip to the pumpkin patch tomorrow. I just know that the next 3 months are going to be better than they have been in a long time.

It's not much, but it is huge for me.

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