Photo taken by Arden Horacek at Lee Farms Pumpkin Patch.
Appreciating what each season brings is a great way to stay optimistic.

2020 has been shrouded in a haze of chaos; the most common phrase I’ve heard this year is, “could this year get any worse?” It’s easy to let the stress of school, the political climate, social movements and personal matters become the center of all your thoughts. But it’s important, now more than ever, to remember the things to celebrate this year. 

The holidays are approaching! From October to January, there’s this stretch before the end of the year filled with breaks and family time. Whatever the holidays you choose to celebrate, it’s nice to be able to relax, enjoy quality time with your family and hopefully carry out some traditions despite the circumstances. 

Some fun family traditions that don’t require public social interactions are carving pumpkins (from either a pumpkin patch or the grocery store), raking leaves and creating piles to jump into, painting holiday signs and decorating the house. These activities provide a small way of enjoying a moment shared with people you care about.

Another reason to celebrate this fall is the weather changes! Watching leaves and wardrobes turn into beautiful fall colors is something that brings me joy and excitement every year. Colder weather can be the perfect time to sit by the fire or curled in a blanket and watch favorite holiday or childhood movies. Nothing compares to sipping a warm drink and either reading, watching or listening to your favorites while the rain or snow falls around you. 

To accompany my moments of serenity, I like to have a baked treat. I think we’ve all seen the surplus of pumpkin and peppermint flavored goods that stock shelves this time of year, but making them by yourself can be a really fun way to celebrate the turning of seasons. I love fall dishes like pumpkin bread, chili, cornbread, corn on the cob, and pies, and making them with my family is a way that I’ve been able to celebrate the change of seasons. 

Let’s not forget that every Halloween season comes the time for crazy Halloween costumes. If you’re not a fan of dressing up, celebrity costumes are always so over the top and it always brightens my day to see the looks they pull off. Along with crazy costumes, either decorating or seeing other people’s Halloween decorations is always amusing to see what kind of scary or cute ways people choose to celebrate the holiday. Halloween is a really unique time of the year where you can truly do whatever makeup, hairstyle, wear any outfit that you want and it can make any statement about yourself that you want, and you don’t face the same scrutiny as usual. 

With the COVID-19 crisis this year, Halloween would seem to be cancelled, but there are last minute fun ways to get in the spirit. Instead of having candy in bowls on front porches, there has been a recent surge in chutes being built to slide candy from for Halloween trick-or-treaters to still have their fun. Or if leaving out candy isn’t your jam, you can also try “ghosting,” where you bake treats or make little games and put them in a little decorated Halloween bag. You can drop off your Halloween goody bag on your friends’ or families’ porches for them to find.  

So while fall brings the fears of college applications and a presidential election, don’t forget to enjoy the small things that the season brings. Appreciating the things around you, that you have control over, is a great way to handle anxiety or fear, and allowing yourself time to do what makes you happiest during the fall season is so important to keep your spirits up.