“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
Autumn is slipping in on the calendar on Sept. 22. The young and old enjoy what fall has to offer: the leaves beginning to change, a nip of cool fresh air and vibrant red sunsets that take our breath away. We love to observe animals bustling about getting ready for winter.
Some folks have observed 100 years of fall holidays. Sept. 22 is National Centenarian’s Day as we honor those who have celebrated 100 birthdays or more. We can celebrate this honor for our seniors all this week. I have humbly been blessed by friends who are 100 years old or more. They have shared with me that age is just a number. It is not how long you live but “how you live.” Most of my centenarian friends have such giving hearts of sharing time and wisdom with others. With age comes wisdom of history, different generational traditions, of struggles and perseverance during different world and personal events and of memories that strengthen the younger generation in paths of life that our centenarians have already walked and experienced.
We truly benefit from every bit of experienced wisdom they offer. One observation that I cherish is when the assisted living or skill care facilities I am serving in do intergenerational activities of reading stories, singing songs and doing crafts between young children and the elderly. Centenarians are very helpful with these activities and they bond quickly with the young children in attendance. This is a true blessing between the young and old.
Autumn offers a time of doing many intergenerational nature lessons that don’t cost anything, but the “together activities” offer rich memories. Even though we are going through a time of social distancing and wearing masks, these simple suggestions can still be done so children, families and our elderly friends can still enjoy them.
1. Get the camera ready as you and your child take a nature walk to do seed collections. What a fun learning lesson to gather seeds from the ground in fruits, vegetables and other plants. I have always enjoyed gathering pinecones to safely show children the seeds. Too, remember pinecones can be saved to do Thanksgiving turkeys or Christmas trees. These can be shared with older family members as centerpieces for their homes. Taking pictures of your family hike means so much to senior citizens. I know I enjoy many of the pictures my son shares with me of Autumn hikes in Michigan by sending them to my phone or Facebook. This loving action of sharing truly brings us closer to family members and encourages us physically, emotionally and socially. We still feel a part of the family even though we may be apart during this time of the pandemic.
2. As you and your family are taking a nature walk be sure to gather some beautiful colored leaves to share and photograph. Children love to do leaf rubbings. This is so much fun to do this as a family. Take a piece of white paper and crayons, turn the leaf over with the leaf veins sticking out, and let the children color over this. They will be fascinated at how the leaf appears. Taking the childrens’ hands and making hand leaves is another fall craft to make personal favorites for the family. Leaf fall cards made by young hands can be mailed to grandparents as well as elderly friends.
3. Fall can be celebrated by baking and cooking seasonal delights. One of my favorite class and home favorites is to safely prepare cooked baked apples in the crockpot so the children can smell the apples, butter, sugar and cinnamon cooking. Too, baking different fall breads such as banana nut bread or pumpkin bread (and pumpkin pie) can be a family endeavor to share with our senior family and friends. Describing the smells of fall brings back good seasonal memories to seniors.
4. Observing how animals do different things in getting ready for winter is a good autumn activity shared between young and old. Watching squirrels scampering all over the ground to find nuts and acorns for their winter stash and pointing out to your children birds gathering in a V shape to migrate to warmer places to find food are just a couple examples of fall activities. Explain to your young children that bears, chipmunks, etc., hibernate, which is a very deep sleep taken during the winter for survival. This makes for a good family science discussion.
5. We are beginning to pull out our sweaters, coats and hats during fall in order to keep healthy and warm. This is a good time to lovingly check on our senior family members and friends to be sure they have everything to keep warm and healthy during this fall season.
Sept. 22, to celebrate the end of summer, is “National Ice Cream Cone Day.” The first ice cream cone was made in 1896 by Italo Marchiony. Marchiony, who emigrated from Italy in the late 1800’s to New York City, invented his ice cream cone and was granted a patent in December 1903. Thank goodness that the young and old can enjoy ice cream without it dripping down our chins and arms. We get a double treat with the ice cream and the cone.
Truly each day is a gift from God as we celebrate the seasons, our love for each other as family and friends and relationships between the young and old. Cherish each moment of each day.