How to Decorate for Fall

Oct 1 2012

Wuh oh.

Last night, after the kids were safe all snug in their beds (and also a teeny, tiny bit before they were in bed — just five more minutes, kids), I spent too much time online looking at GORGEOUS pictures of tables and porches and mantles decorated for fall, fall, fall.

There were bundles of wheat and stalks of corn, bales of hay and…

…oh, the pumpkins. The pumpkins! The pumpkins, y’all, that come in huge and tiny, and orange and white, and even velvet and silver. They were, all of them, magnificent. And the fall leaf banners? Simple yet splendid, an easy way to make my house match the pictures and to eke out a bit of the peace I see there.

Yep; it was bedtime last night, but I was ready to marshal the troops.

Rise and gather leaves! I thought.

We must press them and hang them with miniature clothespins and twine.

There is no time to lose, I said in my head, because fall is falling fast, and if we do not finish our leaf-gathering in time, kids

And then I stopped short, because… well, nothing. If we don’t leaf-gather, then we’ll have no flat leaves, I concluded. The end.

Although it was stunningly anti-climactic, it didn’t seem like the end of the world, and it suddenly occurred to me — again — that I needn’t so readily hand my sense of self over to the power of decorative pumpkins.

Now, decorative pumpkins will happen at my house. They do every year when I arrive at the magical intersection of my deep pumpkin need and the store’s on-sale price. And the flat leaves may happen, too, if the compulsion to gather hits me during daylight as I drive my hip minivan full of kids past a particularly bountiful sunset maple. I’m neither anti-pumpkin nor anti-leaf.

In the meantime, though, my table is plain and my mantle is bare. My front porch is swept (something of a fall miracle), but that’s all; we’ve put away exactly none of the summer toys or tools that litter the backyard, and the neon, blow-up waterslide is particularly lovely, covered as it is in gummy, nearly dry cherries and brittle, decaying fall leaves.

Fall is here anyway, since seasons so rarely wait for me to be ready. Fall’s here, and I love it, despite my lack of preparation.

Last night, I laid awake after my online binge and I considered whether I felt less-than for neglecting fall decorating. Nope, I discovered. I’m fineFall decorating will come in its own time. Or it won’t, and if it doesn’t then I won’t have any. Which felt like a profound antidote for our less-than feelings in our more-than world.

In the meantime…

In the meantime, I’ll decorate my house with the wind.

I’ll decorate my house with the young-boy wind — the wild one who runs too fast down the mountain and whoops too loud and plays too hard. The one who terrifies the trees, throws sticks at my windows, and kicks plastic toys around the yard.

And I’ll decorate my house with the old-woman wind — the one who’s gentle and kind and puts me to sleep while she quietly goes about her business.

I’ll decorate my house with the moon that’s too bright on these clear nights as I lay with the littles in my bed.

And I’ll decorate with the sun that speaks of summer that’s gone and makes me glad for the respite that I always pretend fall will bring.

Most of all, I’ll decorate with the breath of my babies. With the breath of the littles who snore and snuggle and sigh as they sleep and who MomMomMommyMom and He hit me! when they’re wake.

And I’ll decorate with the breath of my biggest who begs her daddy every night to carry her to bed… and with the breath of my husband who pauses his show and says, She’s fourteen, and she still wants me to tuck her in; I’ll never say no.

I’ll decorate, finally, with a cup of warm milk and a tablespoon of brown sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon, whisked on the stove ’til it’s frothy and hot.

The wind, the moon, the sun, the breath of my people, and a mug of warm milk. Decorations enough for now.

What are yours?