In The Great Gatsby, it’s written, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” Although fall is a time of transition in nature when leaves, grass, and plants all start to die or hibernate, some consider fall to be like a second New Year, because there’s just something about this season that awakens us inside. In God’s economy which often highlights the unexpected, He created fall to be one of the most breathtaking displays of His handiwork, and even as things change and die, there’s beauty incomparable.
Perhaps one of the reasons we’re awakened is that fall is such a stark difference from summer – from the climate and clothing to the smells in the air, the decor in our homes, the food on our tables. Fall beckons us with her burning wood, crisp leaves underfoot, warm drinks, and coziness. For me, living by the seasons is one of the highlights of settling in a climate like Tennessee. Even when I lived in Texas though, I made an effort to transition our home environment to a fallish feel, even if it was still 90 degrees outside for a month more.
We need fall, in the way she ushers us into the holiday season, the excitement of cooler weather, the chance to appreciate glorious colors and textures in nature, the desire to make warm, comforting meals and share them with others.
Here are 5 fun ways you can welcome fall in your neck of the woods . . .
1. Experiment with Seasonal Fall Foods
Here are some produce items that are seasonal in fall:
- Acorn squash
- Butternut squash
- Brussels Sprouts
- Sweet Potatoes
Current recipes on rotation in our farmhouse:
- Curried Butternut Squash Soup. Mmmm, I could eat a huge bowl right of this right now! I like to add chopped apples and sweet potatoes to cook with the butternut squash to provide a variety of flavors. Instead of just eating it as soup, you can even pour this over rice, or add meatballs or shredded chicken.
- No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread. This is a weekly staple for us, and it’s so easy my toddler could do it – really! While you’re at it, make a few batches and save one for a neighbor. Wrap the warm bread in a new tea towel with a fallish print, and deliver it to their front door.
- Savory Pumpkin Hummus. I love this seasonal twist on the original hummus recipe! When friends come over (or even just for a weeknight snack dinner for our family), I pull out a platter and place hummus in the middle. Surround the hummus with sliced bell peppers, carrots and cucumbers cut into circles, and rice crackers. It’s always devoured quickly.
2. Glean the Lessons of Harvest
Early American Pioneers grew about 80% of their food and literally needed their garden in order to live. Harvest was a celebration of the abundance of the year and also a time to hurry and gather the rest of the food they could before the frost and snow came so they would have something to eat all winter. Oftentimes, families would all pitch in to help each other harvest, because they couldn’t do it alone. “Gather” wasn’t just a word printed on a decorative sign – it was necessary for their very survival.
Jesus often used farming and harvest analogies in the Bible…
“Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.’” Matthew 9:35-38 (NLT)
This is a great opportunity to teach our children how they can be workers for God and help with harvesting souls by sharing God’s love with others. We can look around for people in our lives who are “confused and helpless” and share the good news with them.
3. Host a Harvest Celebration
Last October, we were in a tiny rental home, but it didn’t stop us from gathering friends for a harvest party in our front yard. All the decorations were handmade, cheap, or free. I hung a wooden sign on a tree that said “Give Thanks,” and on the front of a long table, a garland that said, “Hello Fall.” Mums and pumpkins were placed around the base of the table legs. Over the course of the evening, this table was jam-packed with an assortment of mismatched bowls, platters, plates, and pitchers as every person who attended brought something delicious to contribute to the potluck. Near the bonfire, we backed my husband’s 1986 Ford F-150 onto the lawn, let down the tailgate, and filled the bed of the truck with hay bales. We handed children flashlights and sticks, which sparked their imagination and kept them amused all evening.
This fall’s harvest celebration will be quite different, as we navigate a new season in the midst of a pandemic, unable to gather elbow to elbow around the table with many outside our immediate family. Small, socially-distanced gatherings are just as important as big parties with lots of people and activities. A wise woman once told me, “It starts with an invitation.” Don’t wait for your home or life situation to be “perfect” (it’ll never happen!) to host a fun seasonal celebration—you can do it now with whatever limitations you have.
4. Appreciate God’s Creation
Last year in early October, the Harvest Moon was absolutely glorious. Its golden glow lit our yard in the country as if we’d turned on a floodlight. I opened all the blinds so we could sleep with the moonglow seeping in our windows. The next full moon, the Full Harvest Moon, will occur on October 1st. Invite some friends or neighbors to a pajama party and spread out a blanket under the full moon to soak up the beauty of God’s handiwork. Talk about how God’s creation all works together perfectly—how He created the moon and stars . . . Bonus if you have a telescope!
Leaf crafts are a staple for us every fall as well. Collect as many as you can and make leaf rubbings with paper and crayons, press them onto playdough or salt dough, or seal them between contact paper or wax paper. The key is taking the time to stop and notice God’s creation during every season, and fall is one of the easiest times to do it!
5. Revitalize Time Around Your Table
In her book, The Lifegiving Table: Nurturing Faith Through Feasting, One Meal At A Time, Sally Clarkson says,
“When God created the world and pronounced it good, He lavishly provided an abundance of delights to please every possible palate. His artistic hand can be seen in all of the food He provided, not just to satisfy our basic need for calories, but also to gratify our senses with color, aroma, texture, and taste . . . And He created us in such a way that we make emotional and spiritual connections in the process of enjoying them, especially when we share them around the table with people we love.”
Are you worn out from summer and back-to-school time? Let’s recapture the beauty of sharing meals around the table, engaging with one another over warm soups and steaming bread, and seeing the table as an opportunity to connect with our children. After all, as Sally Clarkson says, we’ll feed our children about 19,000 meals in their lifetimes—that’s a lot of opportunities to share Jesus with them.
Even during seasons of loss and change, our Creator is always in the business of creating life and beauty, isn’t He? May it be so in your life this fall.