After the overbearing heat of summer and the inevitable slow cooling down that September brings, we come against October. When you’re a parent, you can look at October with wide-eyed wonderment or full-on dread. Your calendar is as full in October as it was in July. From pumpkin patches and harvest festivals to youth football and tot soccer matches, every weekend in October is often spoken for. I love October for that. I hate it for the same reason. I endure it for belly laughter and toothy little smiles of my children, though. We’re making memories, man. So I proudly pace the sidelines of soccer fields cheering on my boys, and I find joy bumping along in the back of a dusty flat-bed trailer pulled along by an old tractor at the farm. Where I live, our children don’t parade around the neighborhood in their costumes on Halloween. We go to trunk or treats in the park where the local businesses line up cars and trucks as far as the eye can see and sprinkle candy, treats and toys into their bags while Halloween movies play on big screens in a nearby field. October is busy, but it’s a beautiful bustle.
“October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!” — Rainbow Rowell
On the home front, I have come to love the fall with its darkness that sets in just beyond 5:00 p.m. I love pressing my house key into the door, turning the knob and coming home to the hero’s welcome—Hayden at the top of the stairs calling my name and Olive jumping in her bouncer. I enjoy the pleasant smells coming from the kitchen. Kicking off my shoes in the foyer and changing into pajama bottoms and a sweatshirt signals the end of my workday, something my wife had to teach me (It’s OK to relax, work will be there tomorrow.). Those cool fall evenings usher in sweet treats from the oven and game nights awash in laughter and silliness—ever play Wii with a 4-year-old? His version of Monopoly is quite comical, too, where the first one around the board wins.
When the kids go down, sometime between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m., I get to decompress and talk with my wife, Elizabeth. In the fall, we like to break out the fleece blankets, cuddle on the couch and watch shows on Hulu or Netflix. It’s also a time that I get to enjoy cycling through each Virginia craft brewer’s pumpkin beer. Elizabeth is a good sport. She tries them despite her constant reminders to me that you can’t flavor beer this way and still call it beer. But we bond over it—and her love of hilarious, minute-long Facebook videos leave us both in stitches.
Fall brings families together. So while you enjoy a whirlwind of endless October activity, be sure to find a way to add a little pumpkin spice in your marriage and some fun-sized goodness to your family nights. Your spouse and children will thank you for it.
Chris Jones is the editor of Fredericksburg Parent & Family magazine. If you want great pumpkin-flavored craft beer recommendations for yourself or your spouse, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org