No, I'm not talking about Christmas. Although, it will be here soon. Hell, it's already Christmas in a lot of stores already (which I don't understand, in my parents' business, we just make sure the place is ready to go for the holidays on the day after Thanksgiving.) But seriously, while I'm not talking about Christmas, this entry is semi-inspired by my Dad's take on the Holidays. He always encourages us and reminds us to not put all of our stock in Christmas day. After all, it's one day. It comes and goes so quickly, and no matter how much you pack in one day, you can't stop the train...or in this case, the Polar Express? Anywho, he always encourages us to think of Christmas as a season and not a one shot deal. We stretch it out, have several small gatherings with family, friends, neighbors, attend a lot of events, concerts, leave the trees up until New Years, etc.
Anywho, that's the whole point. I don't think we celebrate enough, or at least not in the right way. We put all of our eggs in a few small baskets, and hope for the perfect day, or holiday. Where am I going with this? Ok, so over the past week, I was really inspired by two different events, a small dinner party, and a large party with friends. The best part? Both events just screamed fall in Virginia. I love fall here. I love the changing of the leaves, the little nip in the air, the smell of fire (like a camp fire or chestnuts roasting on a, not a house fire), the sound of a marching band practicing when you walk home, snuggling up (once again, Husband...where are you?), the sound of crunching leaves beneath your feet, and knowing you have a fun holiday season ahead of you. Sure we celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving, but why not celebrate Fall?
At the small dinner party, 2 couples, myself, and my date (my "wife", she's the best, really. Not only is she a fun, intelligent, attractive, and successful young woman, she totally understands and accepts the fact that her "husband" is attracted to men and will most likely, one day, leave her for a man) ate appetizers by a cozy fire, drank "Stone Fences" (4.0 oz. Maker's Mark Bourbon, or any bourbon and 2 oz. fresh apple cider), feasted on a delicious meal with seasonal ingredients like butternut squash, and just had the best damn conversation you could ask for. On Saturday, my friends Jill and Christie hosted their annual Celebration of All Things Fall. They live on a beautiful farm outside of Charlottesville, and it's the kind of place that begs for a gathering like this. There were hay rides, a pumpkin carving contest, cider and adult beverages, a small band and dancing in the barn, a fire, dogs, delicious food, children, you name it. It was a little chilly, but bundling up is always fun, and there was no rain thanks to Old Mother Nature. We were also celebrating Christie and Jill's recent Nantucket nuptials, which is just the best thing ever.
Needless to say, I've left this past week and weekend inspired to celebrate fall. There's no need to put all your stock, or stock pot on Thanksgiving and Halloween. That's one stressful meal and one night of tricks and treats. You're probably thinking, I don't live on a perfect farm in Virginia that screams fall bash, and it would look really silly to host a hayride on our busy, city street. No biggie. Do it on your level, with your space, and with your style. If you live in an urban environment and you don't have the outdoor space, rock the fall dinner party. Cook with warm, seasonal ingredients, serve some stone fences, and finish off the meal with a nice apple crisp, or something that evokes those senses and tastes of fall. In other words, leave the mojitos and citrus salad for another day and another dinner party. I'm pretty anti-Sandra Lee and seasonal decorating (outside of holidays) but break out the fall colors for your table. Some nice beeswax candles, use your thanksgiving linens if you have them, or venture outside and find your decor. Gather a few acorns, some twigs, and a nice spray of changing leaves. Add one glass vase or hurricane, and BAM, we have instant center piece.
Image lifted from myweddingfavors.com
If you have a backyard and some outdoor space to throw a fall party, then rock it out on a small scale. This is a really affordable gathering. It's fall, the decor is taken care of. It's all about the air, and the leaves, and the trees, and the feeling. Get a few pumpkins and a few mums and you're in business. If you're going into the evening, bust out some Christmas lights early. Have guests bring pumpkins to carve in the contest, get some cider (with a hard option for the big kids), some apple juice boxes for the wee ones, some pumpkin ales, and set the time for late afternoon, making the event kid friendly for those with kids, and let it carry on into the evening for those who may want a few extra brews and think that it's a marvelous night for a Moondance. Start a small fire pit when the sun goes down, and you're in big business. You may have a friend who's willing to play the guitar, or just rock a nice playlist with some bluegrass, some classic rock (for example, the aforementioned Van Morrison ala Moondance, some Dave Matthews, etc.) If you're crossing over dinner time, feed your guests. If you fancy yourself a grill master, grill up some chicken, roast some potatoes, some green beans, and you're done. Or, grill the chicken and ask your guests to bring their favorite seasonal dish. Roast some pumpkin seeds for a snack if you're feeling adventurous. Or, be like Jill and Christie, and order from a local Barbecue restaurant. We're not talking a lavish catering deal here, we're talking order some pulled pork, some coleslaw, your favorite side dish, get some hamburger buns and some plastic cutlery, and you're in business. Either way, it's going to be pretty damn fabulous.
So, don't wait for the holidays, celebrate the season. Grab a Stone Fence, grab a pumpkin, grab your friends, and take it as an opportunity to be thankful for all the wonderful things and people in your life. So, for all my friends out there, make an ordinary day, extraordinary, and celebrate Fall.
For my friends who found love and were gracious enough to share their joy with us last weekend, congratulations and thanks for the inspiration. Here's to love, laughter, and Happily Ever After. (and here's to Fall, y'all.)
My friend Karie, and I at the Fall Party. (Just in case we haven't met in person, and you're curious who I am.)