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Mary Friona Celani: Fall is a time for family bonding

I’ve always loved fall. Everything about it. It’s no longer the beginning of the school year, and it’s not quite the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holiday. (Regardless of what the big-box stores seem to think.) Fall is that time between where things are kind of chill; where you’re not exactly running around like a mad-person. Not all the time, anyway. I feel like fall is a great time for family bonding. It’s what I call the comfort season. Warm sweaters, homemade apple pies, soup. I don’t know there’s just something about it. So, I try and take advantage and I’m always happy I did.

Every year, I come up with a fall family bucket list. Every year we complete each item on the list and usually end up adding more. Here’s what I have this year.

Get outside ALL the time. It doesn’t even really matter what we’re doing, being outside in the fall is the absolute best. Sometimes it’s just a nice walk around the block or maybe picking up and jumping in some leaves, or collecting pine cones. My girls would rather be outside than inside and we know what’s coming, so now is the time. Bring a blanket and just sit and read books, have a picnic and tell some jokes. Sometimes, we listen to that same knock-knock joke, but it's still a great time.

Build a scarecrow. This is the first time this has made our list (at least I think it is). We’ll be heading to Pinterest to figure this out, but we are doing it. The idea is to use the baby’s clothes, so we’ll be building a tiny little scarecrow, but he is going to be adorable!

Cider mill.Fall is just not fall without a trip to the cider mill. We love Mayer Brothers Cider Mill in Elma but you can also check out Smith's Cider Mill in Lockport and Red Barrel Cider Mill in Boston. They always have some great treats and neat merchandise. Don't forget to grab some fresh cider and of course, some apples.

Customers still line up at Mayer Brothers Cider Mill, 165 years later

Bake up a storm. Yes, use the apples, obviously. Apple pie from scratch is the best (although, truth be told, we do buy pre-made crust – sorry). That’s not the only thing to bake this fall, though. How about some pumpkin bread? Yum. My girls love helping out in the kitchen.

Take a hike. Oh my gosh, the scenery is so beautiful in the fall. There are many incredible places to take a hike. We love Reinstein Woods, Knox Farm  and Chestnut Ridge Park, but there are many other beautiful parks and trails in Buffalo and Western New York. Bundle the kids up and hit the trail. My girls love to look around and always ask questions about everything. Bring the camera and a plastic bag – to collect leaves.

Go in a haunted house or hay ride. We’ll probably skip the haunted house this year – at least with the little ones, but we will make a hay ride. Kelkenberg Farms in Clarence has a great hay ride. Sing some songs, check out the gorgeous views, and enjoy the crisp fall weather. What more could you ask for?

Open up! I’m talking about your windows. Turn the heat off, bundle up, and open a window or two. There’s something invigorating about that crisp fresh air coming into your home. It is a pick-me-up for sure.

Take a family picture. Get everyone you can and gather together to capture some incredible moments. Hire a photographer if you can or just grab your camera or smart phone and snap away. Ask someone to help you out so you can jump in a few. We got all of the kids in my family together this year. My kids, my nieces and nephews - all gathered to get some pictures that we will have forever. Our theme this year was the Buffalo Bills.

We gathered quite the crew of cuties for this special family picture.

Be grateful. I’m always pushing this one because it is my favorite. Make a jar and give your kids a small piece of paper every day (one for you, too). Each day write down one thing you are most thankful for. Then, on Thanksgiving, read them together. You’d be surprised what your kids have to say. We sure have an awful lot to be thankful for, even during the tough times.

This is the time to make some great and lasting memories. Once you've finished up your bucket list, make a photo book together and write down some of your favorite moments. It's always fun to bring them out and recall all of the wonderful times you had as a family.







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