I believe that when most people think of celebrations for fall they automatically think Halloween.
What with all the candy, costumes, and hideous decorations around, it's hard not to. But there is so much more to October than simply waiting for the goodies that come with trick or treating at the very end of the month.
Before I get into our family celebrations, let me first state that I don't want to make judgments against those who participate in Halloween or Fall festivals of some kind. I would encourage those reading to do a search of the history and origins of All Hallows Eve. Here is a link that contains some good places to start: Annie's Halloween Page. I would also gently point out the fact that we live in a world where so many Christian have chosen to compromise certain aspect of their Christian walk in order to still be part of this world. We are called to be a holy nation, a people chosen for His possesson. When we try to be like the world in anyway, are we really being a holy nation? I would just simply encourage people to consider it. (Let me also say on the side, I know families that use Halloween as an opportunity to spread the gospel. The best of these are called Hallo-weenies. LOL!!! They serve hot dogs and hot cocoa to those trick or treating. I think this is wonderful way to celebrate this day. October 31 is not totally lost to this world. I'll spend more time on that later.)
The first part of the our celebration is simply rejoicing in cooler temperatures. We do this is several ways. First of all, I implemented a new day (particularly for my preschoolers) simply called "Fall Celebration." We just took the day to focus on the different aspects of fall. This was new this year. There were a few things that cut it short for us, nonetheless, we did what we could with what we had. On that day, I made a special oatmeal for breakfast: pecan maple oatmeal. It just happened to be an overcast and rainy day so that set he mood. Following breakfast, I set to cleaning the kitchen and put my older children on a job to get a craft ready. While the children worked on their fall trees (I cut a tree trunk and they used torn construction paper to glue on a make leaves) I did some pan fried apples and spiced tea for them.
These were really, really good. You can find the recipe for these are The Nourishing Gourmet. After we had the pan fried apples, we moved to our comfy couch and read a bit. They kids had been waiting for me to read our favorite version (because of the art work) of The Velveteen Rabbit. So I did. Then it was time for lunch. I made the kids sweet potatoes pancakes. I adapted a recipe for vegetable pancakes that I saw Paula Dean do on The Food Network website. These were really good and were enhanced with just a bit of agave nectar or honey. That was it for our day. It centered around alot of food but it was all foods you'd find in the autumn. By the way, I got the idea for the Fall celebration from the blog of The Learning Parent. I will have more time to plan for next year. I will be using a free unit study that I downloaded called Autumn Treasures from Amanda Bennett. She has wonderful unit studies. You can find that study by clicking on the picture below.
The biggest family tradition we have (and it actually ties into the tradition of celebrating Schmoo's birthday this year) is that we go to the pumpkin patch every year. This tradition started about 9 years ago when I took JB with her playgroup to the pumpkin patch. At that time it was a far drive and I was extremely nervous to be in a car (after having rammed a large SUV that pulled in front of me.) But we made the trek and had a blast. I have taken my kids back to the patch every year since then. Even my older kids love it. It's not longer far away. We moved about 10 minutes from this pumpkin patch. We all get a pumpkin with admission. We bring them home to either decorate the house, porch, or to supply us our yearly dose of roasted pumpkin seeds. YUMMY!!!!!! This year we are going on Schmoo's birthday. We don't normally do that because I want it to be a family ordeal and not centered on her birthday. But this year it's been rainy and I have been down. The distraction at this time of the month will be fun.
The final Fall celebration that is in the works for our family is centered around Octboer 31. But it's not Halloween, as I have stated above. It's centered around the Reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther tacked the 95 Theses on the door the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. They say the rest is history. If you worship in a Protestant church of some kind today, then you have every reason to be celebrating the Reformation. Wandering what in the world to replace Halloween with? Here you have it. Churches should be celebrating the Reformation rather than some kind of Harvest party or Fall Festival. As a church, we are not only missing some of the foundations of a faith but we're missing massive pieces of our history. This world (through government education) isn't going to give us the history of our church. If they do, then it's going to be in a revisionist form that doesn't match up with the fact. The Reformation is a piece of His Story that has been woven into the different parts of a tapestry. It's OUR history. We must remember so that we can celebrate in thankfulness the fact that their were men and women willing to stand up against a church that claimed deny people access to the very Word of God. People died in this movement and it's something that should be remembered. The lives of the reformers should inspire us to live our lives in holiness before the Lord. No compromise at all. None of them compromised. Many of them went willingly to be burned a the stake. They knew their future. They knew their King. And they gladly gave their lives for Him and for those of us in the coming millinia that would benefit from their fight to free people to worship and serve their King as His Holy Word called them to do. It was the events of the Reformation that will eventually to our national holiday. . .Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims and Puritans BOTH came to this country to gain religious freedom. That is worth celebrating.
We do not have specific celebrations right now. This is only something that I have recently come under conviction to really make a part of our lives in October. I do plan to do some reading this year of different biographies of reformers. There are places on the web I have found that have links to different cites to help celebrate the Reformation. Doorposts has a book designed to guide churches in how to put together a Reformation Celebration called A Night of Reformation. It my hope one day for my family to be able to host a Reformation Celebration complete with period costume and food. In the mean time, I use October 31 to emphasize our church history and give my children a gift that will last them a life time.
This is our October. We celebrate this creation that our Creator gave us. His provision in the season changes is evident in the different seasonal fruits and vegetables. It's evident in the ways His world prepares to go to sleep. From squirrels gather nuts to trees changing so they may go to sleep. It's truly a time of celebrating.