November 17, 2018

A Family Ritual for Fall

“One of my many deficiencies as a mother, I always felt, was that I did a somewhat inadequate and halfhearted job of celebrating fall. I was generally a failure at seasonal activities: My children grew up in New England without skis in the winter or sailing in the summer; we didn’t even own a boogie board.

One of my children had a friend whose home was always beautifully decorated for seasonal holidays, with spider webs and multiple artfully carved pumpkins for Halloween and harvest themes for Thanksgiving, and the whole magic nine yards for Christmas, but I wasn’t even up to a few mingy ears of colored corn, maybe because if I hung them on the front door in November, they would have stayed there forever, mournfully drooping till the voracious squirrels had picked them clean.

But fall is the glory season in New England, with busloads of international tourists coming thousands of miles to marvel at the foliage. Appreciating New England in the fall seemed like a moral imperative.

So in self-defense, my family evolved one single autumnal ritual, back in the 1980s, and to my astonishment, we are still practicing it, in altered form, from New York in 2018. Every October, often over the holiday weekend, we drive up to northern New Hampshire and eat at Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill.”

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