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Jake Frost considers the wide variety of fun autumn family activities that don't cost a penny.

Early in the morning my youngest son came and snuggled in our bed. When my wife got up to start her day she went to the kitchen and first thing warmed-up a cup of coffee in the microwave. My son stirred at the beeping and said: “Do you know why I hate microwave sounds? Because they mean school is near.”

I chuckled. It’s interesting to see the little associations, the little memories that fill our everydays.

Maybe it’s the season. Autumn is a time of memories for me. Its crisp, windy days are filled with associations and impressions from childhood the way a coffee shop in fall is filled with the aroma of pumpkin spice.

Everything seems to make me feel nostalgic: the brisk breezes, the falling leaves, the crackle of a campfire, the smell of burning leaves. I remember the first smell of winter on the wind and feeling warm and cozy in my favorite sweater hand-knit by Mom, and evenings around the fireplace listening to Dad reading stories aloud. I remember the whole family spending the afternoon outside raking leaves together and then coming in to a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup that had been bubbling on the stove all day.

Autumn is a season of harvests, of gathering-in and giving thanks, and I seem to be gathering memories these days. The more I do, the more aware I am of blessings and how good it is to give thanks.




Maybe it comes from being a parent myself now and finally realizing how much work and sacrifice and heart went into making all those memories I cherish. It’s also made me think how joy doesn’t just happen, it’s something we cultivate, something to work at.

Especially these days when, at least for our family, we have to be a little more parsimonious in our approach to life. We can’t be quite so free-and-easy anymore with: “Why don’t we stop and pick-up dinner on the way home?”

Swinging through the drive through is getting to be a matter of budgeting, not a spur of the moment whim.

T-shirts that read “This Family Runs on Prime” aren’t so funny just now. Instead of a laugh, they make me wince when I think of the credit card bills.

So we’re trying to look beyond the internet and clicking “Buy Now” to resolve our wants and needs.

It may be for the best. We eat healthier when we eat at home, and we find more creative solutions when we rummage around the garage instead of the internet.

And reconnecting with those old memories, and the caring that turned them into treasures which have lasted through the years, has helped remind me of the blessings that are all around us that don’t cost anything at all.


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Like the autumn leaves turning crimson and gold, beauty is all around us, and opportunities for cultivating joy on a budget are everywhere. #catholicmom

Like the autumn leaves turning crimson and gold, beauty is all around us, and opportunities for cultivating joy on a budget are everywhere. A bowl of popcorn and a good book read aloud make for a wonderful evening. Or a campfire in the back yard and talking late into the night while the embers burn down low. Going on a leaf hunt for colorful autumn leaves is great fun for little kids. Just doing things together, whether its raking leaves or riding bikes, makes for good times.

I hope your autumn is a wonderful season for gathering a harvest of memories that will last a lifetime and fill hearts with the joy of thankfulness. Happy harvesting!



Copyright 2022 Jake Frost
Images: Canva