Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins.
For a long time, we didn’t really mark the changing seasons in our family. Without a traditional school calendar to follow, or any obvious signs in nature (we live in Southern California—it’s pretty much all sun, all the time), our days looked more or less the same all year round.
I always wanted to note the turn of the seasons somehow. I liked the idea of having rituals that our kids would remember and look forward to—but it seemed like one more (impossible) thing to add into our days.
Between reading aloud and making sandwiches and playing board games and riding scooters and investigating the migratory patterns of monarchs and resolving conflicts and walking to the park and tidying up before bed, there didn’t seem to be a lot of time for a maypole to celebrate spring or a candle walk on the winter solstice.
But it’s really hard to reflect on where you’ve been and how much you’ve grown when one week bleeds into the next, on and on forever. I didn’t want our days to be lost in the swirling vortex of time, and I didn’t want to create a family culture of always-on, without regular markers to guide us. At the same time, I still had small children.
Yes, I wanted the maypole, but I needed something simpler.
We started by adding in small practices that would help us connect to the seasons without requiring anything arduous like planning ahead. Here’s what we came up with.
Bring on the Books
It’s not really fall until you’re reading about leaves and pumpkins, and it’s not really winter until you’re reading about snow. That’s how I feel about it, anyway, so now we keep a basket stocked with books-of-the-season in the living room. (Frequent trips to the library help keep our basket full.)
Some people get changing weather, we get changing books. It helps.
First Day / Last Day Celebrations
The last day of summer calls for ice cream, don’t you think? And the first day of fall is a good reason to bake apples with cinnamon-sugar on top. (Yes that does mean treats two days in a row, if you’re keeping score.)
We try to do a little something special on the first and last day of each season, as a way to bookend those months. Our celebrations don’t always involve dessert foods, I promise.
Whether it’s planting seeds on the first day of spring or lighting candles on the first day of winter, we always pick something simple that we already have the supplies for.
We want a fun way to mark the passing of time, not another obligation to add to the to-do list.
We try to take some time at the change of each season to talk about what we remember most from the last few months. (Dinner conversation: accomplished!)
Then we think about the season to come. What’s going well? What needs to change? What do we want to learn? What do we want to practice? What do we plan to celebrate? What do we need to let go of?
The answers we come up with are almost never what I would have guessed.
Seasons for You
I don’t get taller anymore—two of my kids are taller than me and I don’t think I’m going to catch up with them—but even so, I’m still growing and changing. None of us are “done,” we’re all works in progress.
So I try to find a few quiet moments to reflect on that, too. Where have I been, where am I headed? Especially if our family has seen big shifts lately, who am I here and now?
If you’re turning over those questions too, I put five of my favorite tools into a free mini-course for you. It’s called Find Yourself, Free Yourself : five little lessons on slowing down, listening for the voice inside you, and figuring out who you really are.
You can get that here.
Now that some of my kids are older, I’m wondering what other seasonal shifts make most sense.
What else can we bring into our family culture that will be meaningful, but not overwhelming? (Okay, maybe I still want to make the maypole thing happen.)
How do you mark the seasons at your house? I need your ideas!