Fall evokes a myriad of emotions and memories for most people. By the looks of the grocery store aisles, it certainly must evoke all things pumpkin spice. But for many dads, it often brings thoughts of campfires, S’mores, and football . . . fantasy or otherwise. There is something about Fall that makes many of us feel like a kid, again. Maybe it’s the cooler temps, or the back-to-school rush, or hearing our own kids talk about what they’re going to “be” for Halloween. Whatever it is, it’s a great time to take advantage of those sentiments and celebrate, or perhaps even initiate fun, family, fall traditions.
The first thing most dads groan when they hear a statement above is, “Great. I’m already burning it at both ends, and now I have to be the Fall Fun Festivities Director?”
But, there are some simple activities dads can do with kids that don’t take a Herculean effort.First, take advantage of events and happenings in your schools, churches, or communities that have already been planned out for you. Seriously, we don’t need to reinvent the Fall Harvest Wheel; we just need to hop on the wagon it’s supporting. Look at local calendars. What’s going on? Does your kids’ school already boast a Fall Carnival of some sort? Local churches host a variety of parties and events for the whole family. Have you checked out any of those? In addition, many city parks and recreation commissions offer family fall classes in everything from pumpkin painting to pre-holiday craft making.
We haven’t even touched Friday Night Lights. Maybe you have a Little Leaguer or two who would be incredibly inspired to bring their best at a Saturday morning game, after rooting for a local high school team the night before. Take blankets, hot chocolate, and get your painted faces to the stadium for a night of rowdy excitement. When you think about it, you’ve got a pretty economical evening to boot.
In addition to seizing opportunities already available to you and yours, there are some tailored traditions you can start, on your own. When my boys were younger, I was your typical, 60+ hours a week, over-worked dad. I loved my boys, but I didn’t have it in me to come up with one-of-a-kind Disney-worthy events. I brainstormed with my wife, and we decided on committing to two traditions each fall. Not that we didn’t do memorable things on a daily basis, or experience other amazing autumn happenings, but these were the two we wanted the boys to associate with fall in our home. One of those things was loading up the old Suburban on a Saturday morning, or as they got older – on Saturday night – and heading to a local pumpkin patch or corn maze. The patch/maze activities certainly changed over the years. Our toddlers petted animals, carefully picked pumpkins, and gleefully went on wagon rides. Our teenagers ran through complicated and dimly-lit corn mazes, then did some pumpkin’ chuckin’.
The second thing we did, was simply make sure that one evening, in early fall, we took a couple of hours to sit around our newspaper-protected dining table and carve pumpkins. Nothing extremely artistic, but something extremely satisfying . . . so satisfying that we often let the Jack-O-Lanterns inhabit our porch until they became very geriatric in appearance.
Whatever traditions you establish in the fall with your family, embrace it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive or one-of-a-kind. It just has to be together and heartfelt. Your family is one-of-a-kind enough.