In honor of the Fall...my favorite time of the year...I thought I would list my ten favorite things about this season when I was growing up.
Living in the swamps of southern Louisiana was very different from where I live now in the hills of Tennessee. It's almost like living in two different worlds but I can remember some traditions carried over from my younger days that still make me smile today when I think of them...
DONNA'S FALL FAVORITES
1. Cloudy days...Being allergic to the sun, bright Summer days in the muggy south weren't exactly my idea of fun. Give me the overcast, grey days any time and I was a happy camper. That hasn't changed now I'm grown up.
2. Halloween...One of my favorite holidays smack dab in the middle of my favorite season. What more can a kid ask for? Guaranteed candy I almost never indulged in the rest of the year and a chance to get away from the house to prowl the streets for treats. My kind of childhood fantasy when I was a kid.
3. Rain Puddles...There is something hypnotic about the sound of rain on a tin roof that I like. Being in southern Louisiana there was plenty of rainfall during the Fall and that produced plenty of rain puddles to splash in, float leaf boats in, and just have a good time.
4. Umbrellas...I've always loved umbrellas. When I was a kid, I could open an umbrella on a rainy day and imagine it was an invisible cloak to hide me from the monsters who lurked behind trees as I walked to school. It fascinated me that something as simple as some vinyl stretched over some metal bars could keep me dry in most any storm.
5. Warm towels...I tended to get tonsillitis and bronchitis a lot when I was a child so if I had to walk home on a rainy day in the Fall, I could almost guarantee that there would be a warm towel heated from an old space heater waiting for me when I got home. Mother would make me take off my wet socks and shoes at the door. Then she would wrap me in a warm towel and tell me to go stand by the heater until the chill was gone and I was dry.
6. Hot Cocoa...This and Mother's bread was probably THE favorite things of Fall. If there were warm towels waiting for me when I got home from school, there was always a cup of homemade hot cocoa to warm my insides. The first day she made a batch of hot cocoa I was allowed to drink as much as I wanted in one sitting and then it was rationed out to one cup a day until it was gone. It was so good I almost wished for more rainy days than we had each year!
7. Fresh Bread...A close second to the hot cocoa was Mother's fresh bread. If I timed it right, I could walk in the door after school to the smell of freshly baked bread being pulled from the oven. Back then bread at the grocery store was something like twenty cents a loaf and even that was too expensive for our family of six so Mother would bake the bread. Nothing is better than a slice or two of homemade bread (with homemade butter on it) and a mug of homemade hot cocoa. It's one of the best memories I have of my childhood.
8. School...Yes, I was one of those nerdy kids who loved, loved, LOVED school. With home not being a place I enjoyed much and never being allowed to have friends, I sought the company of books and learning. I excelled in my studies and maintained near perfect grades all the way through high school. I even graduated second in my class and had to do a commencement speech at my graduation. Even without the ability to connect with my classmates because of my Mother's rules of social behavior, when it came time to vote for Senior Favorites, I was voted Most Like To Succeed which astounded me because I never realized the people at my school even knew who I was because I was so incredibly shy as a kid.
9. Thanksgiving...With all the various and unusual things that crossed my plate over the years growing up, the holidays usually meant Mother had saved up enough money to make the Thanksgiving meal special. It was one of the rare times of the year when not only was there more than enough to eat...you also actually wanted to eat it!
10. Hallmark...Who doesn't remember the wonderful, magical Hallmark holiday movies of their childhood? I would get giddy with excitement when the holidays approached because I knew there would be a number of Hallmark movies that Mother would let me watch. Even more special than the movies, though, were those Hallmark commercials. Special moments frozen in time where I could just imagine one day someone would give me my very own Hallmark card. Funny what becomes important to a young mind and even now when the holidays roll around you can find me standing in some card aisle, just reading the various sentiments waiting inside to be shared with someone special.
The holidays are what we make of them and even during the most challenging of years growing up, Mother always managed to make our holidays special. Knowing now what I didn't know then makes me realize she was much more special herself than I ever gave her credit for. I can only hope wherever she is now, she can hear me when I say...