John’s Favorite Fall Traditions – From Foliage to Food and Football

I truly love summer. Why do you think I live in Los Angeles?! But really, every year as summer comes to an end, I begin to anxiously await the next season. There’s something about the fall that is incomparable to anything else. While the season in L.A. isn’t quite like how it was growing up in the Midwest, but still, fall always makes me reminisce to my childhood. It’s a time of year when you can not only see a change in everything around you, you feel it. The air gets crisper, the leaves become more colorful, the days get shorter and everyone gets back on schedule. No matter where I live, summertime seems to take everyone in different directions, so when the fall comes around, it’s like a reunion and time to reconnect.


As a kid, I looked forward to the classic fall traditions. My dad would ask us to rake the leaves, but we always ended up jumping into the pile at the end, making a mess all over again. Whoever was around – my brothers or my buddies from up the street – would gather together to play backyard touch football – no matter the weather, and I truly mean, no matter the weather. We were young and resilient and simply happy to be together. I always looked forward to going back to school – not because I liked class – but because it was fun to see how people changed, who grew a mustache (and who didn’t).


As I get older, I start to cherish the more personal memories of the season with my family. I remember going up to the cottage with my dad to hunt. Whatever we caught – goose, duck, pheasant – my mom would cook an incredible fall meal. I’m not only a Chicago Bears fan, but I also believe in taking advantage of comforting fall fare, so I can build up a good winter coat (yes, even in Los Angeles). Every October, Mom would throw an annual Oktoberfest. She would prepare a classic German meal – beef rouladen, spaetzle and red cabbage. We would drink beer out of boots and dance to authentic German music. Some of my siblings still uphold this tradition, which I am very grateful for, since it’s now something my son, Jack, will have as a memory for himself.


Halloween has also taken on a whole new meaning now that Jack, who is 2 years old, came into my life. He gets just as excited at the sight of a pumpkin patch as I do when the UCLA Bruins score a touchdown… Let’s just say, it’s a lot of excitement. This year, he’s going to dress up as Superman. I’m just hoping he doesn’t channel his uncle Chris and really believes he can fly. When my brother Chris was 4 years old, he was fully convinced wearing the Superman costume would give him superpowers, so he jumped off our washing machine. Spoiler alert… he couldn’t fly. (Actually, maybe that’s why he played Robin…)


As I said, this season makes me reminisce, and well, sort of sentimental. As the sun starts to set earlier, the porches fill up with pumpkins and our stomachs get stuffed with warm and hearty food, don’t forget to look back at the memories you have made and the special traditions you want to carry on. Okay, now I’m back to drinking beer and watching football.