Our fall is lasting longer than normal this year. The leaves started to die and fall off some of the trees before they changed color, such as the tulip poplars and birches in our yard. Many of the maple leaves remained green until a few days ago when we got our first heavy frost, and then they changed to bright yellow, red or orange. It is no secret that autumn is my favorite season, and how I enjoy gazing at the brilliant colors of the leaves, watching them fall, and walking through them and hearing them crunch under my feet. This time last year, I was too busy to notice the signs of autumn around me because I was taking care of my dog with his broken leg and dealing with numerous house repairs. Funny the difference a year can make.
Halloween had a different outcome than what I expected. My son had decided to not go trick-or-treating and to stay at home and give out candy. After about an hour of greeting trick-or-treaters, he caught the fever to don a costume himself and head out for some of his own treats. There was no time to be creative, so he threw on his desert camo Army shirt and matching booney hat, put on his khaki pants, and we all walked around our neighborhood to get his share of candy.
The day before, we attended the family reunion that my cousin and I had planned since the summer. Many family members came, but there were still a few who could not make it. The most important thing was that my grandma was there, though she didn’t seem like herself. Her health has been ailing since the summer so it was questionable whether or not she would be there. She wouldn’t look at the camera during most of the picture-taking. It wasn’t until later that I found out that she was confused during the gathering and didn’t know who many of the people were. I guess it’s easy for someone her age to get overwhelmed by such an event.
November is Operation Christmas Child month. I have been participating in this charity for 15 years now. My son and I filled two shoeboxes-one for a girl and one for a boy. We’ll take them to a drop-off center this week. During one of our American history lessons, I read that the United States, at one time, had the highest standard of living over any other nation. Many countries have now caught up with the U.S. and some have surpassed our standards, yet most countries are still impoverished. Preparing those shoeboxes allowed me to show my son just how blessed we are as a family and nation. You see, 80 percent of the items we first gathered for the shoeboxes came out of our own cupboards! That’s right! And I know we are not alone. When I shop for sales, I often buy a 10 bar pack of soap or 3 tubes of toothpaste. And who doesn’t have a few [new] toothbrushes collected from the freebies at the dentist’s office? Those basic items are essential for a child who has nothing, and they are extras here in my home. Even the Halloween candy! There is a ton of it left and we picked out the kinds that won’t melt and put those in the shoeboxes, too. I also have unused school supplies “hoarded” away. Things like pencils, pens, and notebook paper…sure I will use them all someday, but what a blessing it is to give them to someone to use now. We made of list of other items to fill the shoeboxes, things like small toys, combs, wash clothes, calculators, flashlights, and socks and purchased those at a local dollar store.
Before the hectic pace of the holiday season sets in, take a few minutes, better yet, spend an entire day and look around at your blessings. Open your cupboards and drawers and look at all that you have. Even if you have two tubes of toothpaste, be thankful for the one you will still have after the other is given to someone who is without. 🙂