Editor's Note (Nov. 2011)

Children never fail to surprise me, especially the ones I know best. A few weeks ago my daughter called me from college. She’d be coming home for a few days for her mid-semester fall break. We went through the standard transportation finagling, the list of items to have in the refrigerator and the approximate amount of dirty laundry she’d haul home (a lot).

Then she said something that made my head spin. “And mom can we go apple-picking? It would be so much fun!”

Excuse me? Was this the child that I had been begging to accompany me to the orchards for the past six years? The last time we went apple picking she was in fifth grade. And I secretly suspected she only went then because she’d get extra credit in science or health. Who was this kid?

She was the toddler that smiled for the camera as she bit into an apple that was nearly too big for her little mitts to hold. She was the elementary school student that thought it was really cool to bring the teacher an apple, because she’d be just like the kids in a book we were reading. She was my applesauce maker, apple pie baker and the apple-of-my-eye all in one.

So, I thought as I patted myself on the back ever so lightly, she had enjoyed those family outings at the orchard. I’m kind of partial to tradition and family, but I’ve learned by raising a family that you can never be sure what will stick and what won’t. That’s why it helps to spread your wings and spend time together doing all sorts of things. Even the smallest activity can be the making of a marvelous memory. My daughter still recalls a pumpkin picking adventure she had with her cousin. I believe they both chose a pumpkin that was as big as they were at the time. And note that the outing doesn’t have to be extravagant. It’s creating a life together that’s important.

Which brings me to birthdays, by far the most special day of the year for every birthday boy or girl. There’s something amazing about owning a day, of earning the right to be 7 instead of 6, or 10 instead of plain old, single digit 9 (funny how that changes right after the 20s are over).

This month we explore children’s birthday parties. You’ll find a resource guide to all the venues, activities and professionals that can help you make your child’s special day, all the more so. We also have a feature on birthday parties that could benefit from some special attention – those events for or with children who have food allergies. Read tips from our journalist parent who writes from the trenches on how to make the day great for everyone – including mom and dad.

We also have a calendar of events chock full of memory making happenings in our area. Try something new this harvest season and have all the more to celebrate come Thanksgiving. Just remember, while you’re running around picking apples, or planning parties you are creating a lifetime of memories for your children. Just enjoy yourself as well, because there might come a time when you wonder if it was worth all the bother. And then mysteriously, years later your grown child may turn to you and ask you to go apple picking and it will make your day – well, maybe your year.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Jean Sheff