I love Fall. Ask anyone. As soon as September rolls around, I start humming Christmas songs and making my Thanksgiving menu. I curse the last bit of Indian summer, because I just want to start wearing my sweaters and winter coats. The cold never bothers me; it motivates me. I get motivated by cold weather the way most are motivated by the heat of summer. I want run in leaves, take long walks in our neighborhood, or tinker in my kitchen. I want to splash in puddles and twirl umbrellas in the rain with my Ilse. In the city, I relish the aroma of eucalyptus and burning wood and the biting wind from the Bay that turns my nose and cheeks red. I love the holiday décor that goes up in all the hotels, department stores, and especially in Union Square. I even switch my home candle scent of rosemary lavender to a redwood amber one. (Side note: If you’ve never burned one of those Woodwick candles, I highly suggest you try one. They crackle like a smoldering fire as they burn.) All of these things add to my merry mood and set the stage for all my fall rituals.
Ever since my first Thanksgiving in San Francisco over sixteen years ago, I’ve steadily built my fall around a few activities. The number of activities grew after I finished school and stopped working on weekends. As stated in previous posts, I have a love for cooking and baking, and in the fall, they take center stage because I want to do both all the time! Like in past years, I start the cooking and baking extravaganza with Halloween. For my husband’s and my office teams, I made bite size, decorated crispy treats. Last year, I shaped them into bats. This year, I did minibars with white chocolate and sprinkles. After Halloween, I focus on Thanksgiving. I’ve hosted Thanksgiving every year at our place for over twelve years. Our guest list has changed over the years, but the menu is consistent: turkey, fresh cranberry sauce, several sides, and my beloved mini pecan tarts-which take a week to prepare but are gobbled up in minutes. Now that Ilse is old enough to eat adult food, I am excited for her to eat to her first Thanksgiving dinner. Of course, after Thanksgiving, I move on to Christmas and food gifts. This year, I am thinking of something easy, like a quick bread, that I can make in large batch and give to all our friends and family.
Besides the cooking and baking, I also decorate our home. Living in San Francisco, I’ve always been limited to the amount of decorations I can collect for fall and Christmas due to storage constraints. I reserve most of my decorating storage for Christmas decor. For Fall, I focus on a few strategic items which are pretty and Ilse-friendly: pretty table linens and towels, gourds (which can be composted), a keepsake or two, and the earlier mentioned redwood candle. Table linens are an affordable way to make any space feel festive. Between Ross and HomeGoods, I can always find one that suits the season. The decor when combined with the aromas of anything I am cooking in the kitchen makes our apartment feel warm and inviting. Who doesn’t want to be wrapped up in warm colors and soothing scents?
The last ritual I engage in is for me. I change up my hair, makeup, and wardrobe. A few weeks ago, a makeup person in the city told me that San Francisco didn’t have seasons. I beg to disagree. Our Fall/Winter is primarily a wet one, but the temperatures are still cooler than the rest of the year. For example, this morning, I walked out of our building and regretted not taking a jacket or wearing tights (versus my usual pantyhose). The air was different enough to warrant a wardrobe change. Tucked away are the lightweight, sleeveless blouses and out are the wool sweaters and boots. Lipgloss has been traded for matte lipsticks. As for my hair, I cut five inches and got a new do a few weeks ago. I forgot how nice it was not to get my hair stuck in my bag strap or car door.
Fall rituals are like rituals for any season, but they give me the greatest joy. It’s the time of year that makes me giddy for every activity. While I often reflect on the past year as a whole during this time, I take pleasure in all the rituals that surround the season. Now that I have a child, I want to share that giddiness for the season with her. I want Ilse to experience the joy of cooking for others and gifting to others. I want to take walks with her on cool, blustery afternoons and return home to an apple pie and hot chocolate. Through these rituals, I hope she can experience Fall the way I do: as a truly magical time of year.