What I Hope My Daughter Never Forgets – A Simple Fall Family Tradition
You know those questions that immediately stir up thoughts of failure? Questions like, “So how is your prayer life?” or “What are your spending habits?” or this little doozy, “How are your health goals coming along?” Just the implication that we should have goals can be all it takes to throw us into defeat some days.
If you are raising up little people under your roof, another word for “goals” hides out in this word: traditions. And this was the question that set me into a self-doubt spiral one afternoon recently: “Heather, what are your fall family traditions?” So harmless! But while it is my favorite season, I immediately faced doubts over whether I had actually created any traditions for us!
Winter feels so fat with pleasure, brimming with holiday happy gatherings. Summer brags with her coastal daydreaming and fireflies at sunset. Spring always gets us out of the house kissing us with notes of renewal – but what of lovely fall?
Yes, there are harvest festivals and 1000 pumpkin recipes to try, corn mazes and scarecrows in the yard, but I wondered what it was about this magically amber season that connected our lone 5 ½ year-old child to her family roots. I’m not crafty, and my baking is nothing special. Often we are just moving daily through our rhythms as intentionally as we can, but sometimes seasons slip by without markers that pin us to the placement of the sun. Plus, I recently launched my second book canvassing our infertility journey, and especially full seasons like these require some goals go unset and unmet. Discerning which ones matter most takes prayer and practice for me, and this time I feared I was getting it all wrong.
I scraped my memory of the last five years of autumn seasons hoping for signs of tradition but only found a fairy, superhero, genie, mermaid, royal princess and Rainbow Dash. Maybe dressing up would be meaningful to her? Gah. Isn’t this generic?
Finally, I decided to ask her what she loved most about fall on our farm, come what may. And this is what she said: “Mommy, I love the leaves.” For so many reasons, this is what my heart most needed to hear. As soon as she said it I remembered her littlest self, discovering leaves for the first time.
I was a stay-at-home mom hosting Trunk Shows for Noonday Collection as a new Ambassador. I coveted the flexibility to savor every ounce of goodness in motherhood, but one morning felt weary of playing indoors with a toddler. In a desperate need for adventure, I threw on our boots to go discover fall on our hay farm. It was our first autumn leave hunt together.
Like it is so often, I underestimated the simple way of creation drawing my daughter and I closer together – both to each other and to the land where our story is being written. As we walk we chat over why the leaves change, why they fall, what will happen to them and when we’ll see the new appear. The leaves have even helped me guide her through the seasons of life – to aging and death, and what we believe happens afterward for us.
We are learning many lessons from the leaves, but these are ones I pray she never forgets:
- Falling is not failure (neither is being a less-than baker)
- Aging can be absolutely beautiful
- Everyone, everything and every season in life has a purpose
- Endings can make room for new beginnings
- Being together is the best kind of tradition
So, maybe the trees will remind her of these truths, and the beautiful moments we’ve shared under their outstretched arms.
Don’t worry, I won’t ask you about your fall family traditions – or your prayer life, spending habits and health goals. But maybe consider how you want to “leave” your mark on those you love. There is a timeless truth whispered by the leaves, about time itself: it is precious, it is purposeful, but it is finite. May we pause to be with one another, any way that works for us. And may these memories be what our loved ones never forget!
Meet Heather Yates
A true writer at heart, Heather has been an Ambassador for almost four years. She left her career in law to pursue other passions, like serving as the Women’s Ministry Director at her church, publishing books, and building a family through foster car and adoption. Fun fact: She and her husband also custom rebuild Chevy trucks!