By Amanda Huffman
Fall’s typical crisp weather and changing leaves barely exist where my family currently lives. Southern California seems devoid of seasons. We really feel it, since our last assignment in Virginia gave us all four seasons with such distinction that there wasn’t any question that change was in the air. But even so, here in Southern California we celebrate this new season’s arrival and how we are one step closer to the holidays. I can find ways to celebrate fall in a place with no seasons. I’m certain the following suggestions will get you into the fall spirit no matter where you are stationed. No pumpkin latte required, but definitely encouraged if desired!
1. Dive Into the Culture Where You Are
Having lived in various places across the country, I can tell you that fall traditions vary based on the area where you live. When we moved to Virginia, I was excited to go pick pumpkins at the farm down the road, but was surprised to learn that the farm’s annual fall festival was focused on rides and big slides. You picked up your pumpkin as you left the festival — or you could buy one in the market area — instead of picking it in the field. In Central California, I had grown up going to a farm to pick your pumpkin, and now in Southern California, I find most people buy their pumpkins from the grocery store.
While deployed to Afghanistan, my friend and I told one of our interpreters about our tradition of carving pumpkins, something he found very strange. Regardless, he tried to help us celebrate the season by bringing us gourds, which were the closest thing to a pumpkin he could find. We promptly carved them and lit them up with glow sticks.
Fall traditions might look different where you are, especially if you live outside the U.S., but you should try to embrace the location you live in and learn what traditions are celebrated there.
2. Look for Signs of Changing Seasons
Even near the beach in Southern California, where the temperature stays relatively the same year-round, you can see that the seasons are changing, even if only slightly. You might need to go exploring to find evidence of the change.. For example, exploring in a local park with trees can often help you find the evidence of the changes of season. I live close to a tree-lined street. While the fall foliage doesn’t compare to what I saw while living in Ohio and Virginia, it brings back memories. It also reminds me to stop and enjoy the changing seasons. Life can get so busy, and everything can feel the same especially when the weather doesn’t change. Changing seasons remind you to slow down and take time to reflect.
If you are lucky enough to live in a place where fall colors are on display, take the time to go exploring. Find a national or local park where you can see great fall foliage. If there are trails nearby, go hiking to enjoy the change of season. Take a road trip around the area. You don’t have to go far or travel more than a day, but take time to soak in the beauty that surrounds you.
3. Decorate Your Home
For us, decorating our home has become a fun tradition. We started doing it when we first lived in the Los Angeles area. I’m not sure if it is something that recently became popular or something that has happened in California for years and has slowly spread across the country. Here in the Los Angeles area, fall displays are out in force at so many homes. I guess we feel the need to remind people it is fall by showcasing orange, yellow and purple lights along with fun blow-ups or other displays.
Decorating doesn’t only have to be outside. Inside our home, we like to display fun Halloween decorations. As our kids have gotten older, we have started to incorporate Lego decorations and each year we try to do one small or big family LEGO® project.
While our decorating has changed from fall candles and decorative pillows to more kid-friendly decor, there is a lot of room for imagination to make your house “ready” for fall.
These are just a few ways to welcome fall this year. What traditions do you celebrate each year? And what new things have you incorporated as you have moved from place to place through your family’s military career? Share your fall stories in the comments.
Amanda is a military veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer who served on a combat deployment with the Army in Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career in the Space Force. Amanda is the host of the Women of the Military podcast. There she shares the stories of women who have served or are serving in the military. The podcast has over 200 episodes and over 100K downloads. Amanda is also an author and has published two books. Her first book, Women of the Military tells the stories of 28 military women who served in the military. Her second book, A Girl’s Guide to Military Service, is the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Winner for Teen Non Fiction. It is a guide for high school girls considering military service to help them build a strong foundation for their future career. She also works as a freelance writer and has been featured in a number of military publications including The War Horse, Military.com, Military Families Magazine, Clearance Jobs, Military Spouse Magazine, and more.