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There’s something about this time of year. Now that the clocks have fallen back and it gets dark early, I can feel the impending holidays creeping up on me. The cool air on my cheeks, the crisp sound of the leaves under my feet, and the occasional and unmistakable smell of a burning fireplace while walking down the street conjure up images of pie, family, and comfort. I can feel the magic of the season buzzing and vibrating from within. The feeling has always hit me every autumn – when I was a kid coming home from school with drawings of Pilgrims, when I was in high school walking along my sidewalk from the bus stop, when I was in college in Washington, DC looking forward to the imminent trip home for the long holiday weekend and some TLC, and even when I was living in Los Angeles when the weather graced us with the occasional cool evening.
But now it’s slightly different, because now I have my son. Now is when he will start building his memory bank, full of aromas and experiences that will be triggered for a lifetime whenever he, too, smells a fireplace or walks down a leaf-covered street on dark, cool evenings. I envy the wonder and joy that will accompany the next few years for him – the excitement of Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukkah (we celebrate them all in our home), and all they entail. I often still feel like a child around the holidays, anxiously awaiting all the family gatherings chock full of yummy food and gifts. But as an adult, the experience is ever so slightly dulled by the inevitable side effects of the holidays: the crowds, the commercialism, the unavoidable family squabble, the memories of family members gone. It never quite turns out the way we hope it will, but we try again every year.
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