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Celebrating Fall

Little Drummer Boy has been pestering me about the “Welcome Spring” ladybug flag we’ve had hanging off our back stoop since sometime in June. I mentioned recently that it was almost Fall, and we needed to hang our scarecrow version instead. Since then, he’s asked me almost every day if I’ve hung it. I had to answer “no” each time with the promise that we would get it out of the cabinet like we do around the beginning of each October, and he could help me. Of course, his mind moved on to Transformers and other Super Heroes, and mine moved on to ten thousand other things.

October has really sneaked up on me this year. I’m usually counting down the days until this month begins with the Fall-like weather and changes in nature it usually brings in Mississippi. This year, however, I have had a hard time noticing. I suppose I’ve had other things on my mind.

I was sitting at the dining table with Little Drummer Boy this weekend. It was after a meal at some point, and I was lamenting aloud that I had forgotten something or not done something he’d asked or something I had planned. I really don’t remember. Whatever it was, LDB’s response was, “That’s ok.” Even at his age, he’s an encourager, wanting me to know that all is right with the world even if I hadn’t remembered something I was supposed to. He leaned in close with a look of intent in his smiling eyes and added, “‘Cause we’re celebrating Fall.”

Hmmm. So, we’re celebrating? To be honest, I had actually been dreading the “celebration” of the Autumn season, and I hadn’t been willing to really explore why. But, I looked in his vibrant face with the innocent confirmation of a joy some silly tradition I had randomly established created, and at that moment I realized we were already celebrating. I had been saying that we needed to celebrate Fall, that we were going to do it with some of the usual pumpkins and Indian corn and scarecrows we usually bring out for the season. But, I hadn’t actually gotten around to the celebrating part. Until I heard Little Drummer Boy’s declaration of it, I wasn’t really in the celebration frame of mind.

October is usually a month of evaluation for me. I think most of us have those times in the year when our thoughts naturally gravitate toward self-inspection and life-inspection. For me, one of those times is October. Perhaps the tendency began because my birthday falls at the end of the month. Plus, there is something about the first touches of coolness in the air that seem to inspire an airing out of my spirit after the long summer.

Airing out. I find myself writing (and thinking) about transition a lot recently. My essays tagged with “change” are growing in numbers. Of course, there have been a few logistical changes in my life recently–namely beginning my own business, a change that has affected my approach to work, my finances and in practical terms, how I spend my days. More than the physical changes, though, I’ve sensed my heart in transition. Over the last year, I’ve been seeing dormant areas of my life that need awakening. I’ve had a renewed recognition of the passage of time and of how quickly it seems to move. I’ve noticed areas of life that I’m just not satisfied with–areas I’ve determined must change in order for this journey to more closely match my hopes and dreams.

I’ll confess that these realizations have darkened the skies in my anticipation of Fall this year. I was beginning to see this season of typical introspection for me as foe rather than friend. For, the “taking stock” that so often accompanies October for me usually goes hand in hand with a strong sense of celebration in an inherently fruitful time, and a joy in the acceptance of change and newness that I’ve had a hard time mustering lately. Oddly, I’ve been holding myself back from my usual excitement about the arrival of Autumn. Perhaps in my mind, the change of seasons represents so much more of my own changes than ever before, the need for turning over leaves. Perhaps it reminds me more of the discontent that’s been taking root, and of the decisions and will to act that is usually required to produce sustainable change.

“That’s ok. ‘Cause we’re celebrating Fall.”

Somewhere in the five years LDB has been in this world, he’s caught on to the fact that life is worth celebrating. That Fall is worth celebrating. That it’s fun to do a silly thing like taking down the ladybug back yard flag and replacing it with the scarecrow version. It’s fun to notice the big pumpkins and sunflowers and the silly crow sitting on the scarecrow’s shoulder. And, somehow in his declaration of our “celebration,” I realized that indeed it is “ok.”

Whatever frustrations I’m laboring through with the changes I’m experiencing or anticipating in my grown-up life, there is still room for joy. Even if I’m not fully where I want to be, where I feel like I need to be, there is still the opportunity to exercise the discipline of celebration. Even if it only begins as a discipline, “that’s ok.” Even if my process of change has me falling short of turning over new leaves at the pace I was hoping, “that’s ok.” Perfection isn’t required for celebration. And given the choice, I’m not willing to hold off on celebration until perfection arrives.

I read something this week that encouraged me to open my eyes. To look around me and see with true awareness the realities of my life. It’s so easy to focus on areas where we want changes and to overlook those that offer continual blessings and laughter and enrichment. It’s so easy to say “yes, but.” I was reminded to look with eyes of potential and possibility at the circumstances that have been challenging and to recognize how far I’ve come. To CHOOSE to focus on the incredible blessings I’ve been given, the treasures entrusted to me. To choose to embrace the reality I’ve written of: that life is change, and change is growth. Each step–even the rocky or slippery one– is one taking me further on the journey of a life worth making.

On Sunday, Little Drummer Boy, Bug, Baby Girl and I determined that the scarecrow in the cabinet had gotten lonely. We even thought we could hear him calling out to us. LDB was certain he was sad he hadn’t been able to “watch us play” this year. We pulled him from the pile and put him on the flag pole. A first step this season.

“‘Cause we’re celebrating Fall.”

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