A few years ago, in a blog post about fall decor, I casually mentioned that every October I set out a pair of paper bag pumpkins (say that five times fast!) crafted by my children when they were each in kindergarten, respectively.
In one of the comments left for me, a curious member of our community here told me that she would love to actually see those paper bag pumpkins. I think she might have felt, like so many of us do, that while we enjoy all of the photos of beautiful home decor, there tends to be a lack of reality. In fact, I had this confirmed to me when I shared my fall tour with you recently and everyone overwhelmingly declared that they would welcome a little less staging and a lot more real-life.
I’ve wanted to share those paper bag pumpkins with you ever since then. But, I always talked myself out of it. I mean, why would anyone but me care about them? And then I began to think about why I take those paper bag pumpkins out every year and what they mean to me.
Normally, I put them in our laundry room on the long counter which doubles as a dropping zone for homework and mail and socks. (what is it with socks?!)
I put those paper bag pumpkins there because it’s the room we are in and out of multiple times a day since it leads to the garage and we are perpetually shuttling everyone around. And each time I see them with their pipe cleaner stems and their crooked smiles carefully drawn on by little hands, I can’t help but think that they are perhaps the most beautiful of all my fall decor.
Last week we had the incredible privilege of traveling to Maui to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We took our kids with us because we are suckers and really wanted them to enjoy the island with us. Every morning Robb and I would drink our coffee out on the balcony with a perfect view of the ocean. Below us was a little walkway that wound through the resort and, without fail, each day we would see parents chasing toddlers. The time difference had everyone up very early in the morning and it wouldn’t be unusual to see them all running around at 6am.
One morning we noticed a little boy pushing his toy truck back and forth along the path, his blonde hair blowing in the breeze. He reminded us so much of our son at that age that it was like getting a glimpse at our past. And it dawned on me just what it was I was feeling so intensely these days.
When my kids were little I definitely had a sense of how quickly the time was passing but it always seemed like there was still lots of time left. The days, months and years stretched out before me while I was having to be so very much in the moment with my little ones.
Now, in this season, I’m experiencing that bittersweet sense of not only truly knowing that time is going by quickly but also this deep awareness of how little of it there is left. No longer do I see it stretching before me like some kind of yellow brick road meandering along until it meets the horizon.
So, I do things like putting out paper bag pumpkins every year.
Because sometimes the tangible items serve as the beginning of the intangible thread which connects us to the past, the present and the future.
And even though they might not admit it, I think seeing those pumpkins as they walk through the door each day provides the same sense of continuity and security to my kids as it does to me. A little glimpse of their childhood to remind them that while all of the world around them seems crazy and chaotic, our home remains a place they can count on to be steady and to have some things that never change.
We need to see a little bit more of this in blog posts and on social media, don’t you think? The things that reflect our real lives. Not the lives that we shove into a closet or hide in the laundry room in order to take the prettiest picture. But the ones that allow for the sweet, homemade crafts to peacefully coexists with the elegant home decor.
Because it’s not the perfect lamp we found or the latest paint color we added to our walls which we will cherish the most. It’s those little reminders of the life we’ve lived. They remind us of the joys and the sorrows and all of the gloriously mundane days in between.
So hang up those popsicle stick ornaments on the Christmas tree, drink your coffee from the hand-painted mug you got for Mother’s Day that year, put your fanciest earrings in the little clay bowl crafted by tiny fingers and wrapped up in newspaper with all of the reverence of a sculptor and his masterpiece.
And I’ll be here putting out my paper bag pumpkins.