“Harvest time when the grass is jewelled and the silk inside a chestnut shell…”
I love Autumn, it’s easily the best season. Pumpkin spice, the return of knitwear, open fires, Halloween and singing about fluffy cauliflowers, it’s warm, snuggly and just fabulous.
Autumn also houses a celebration of the harvest which is one of my favourite times to reflect on what I have and think about how I can give more to those who are less well-off and now I’m a parent I use this as a regular teaching point for my children.
Harvest Festival was a big deal when I was a kid. I grew up in Lincolnshire so I think the abundance of the harvest was seen in action all around me. The combine harvesters whirring in the fields, the fridges and freezers of the entire extended family filling with blackberries and rhubarb, the jars of jams and chutneys and pickled things that got prepared each year, all playing out Harvest Festival before my eyes with a carnival of colours and flavours.
My CofE school went big on Harvest Festival too, the stage in the school hall slowly filling with tins and packets in the weeks leading up to the big event; the sharing of the harvest. The donations would get packed up into boxes and we would all walk down to a local sheltered housing estate where we would knock on the doors of the elderly residents and give them the fruits of our collection. It is one of the most vivid memories of my childhood, the rush of joy I got from that simple act of giving, the smiles of the recipients, and the warm, snuggly feeling of gratitude and sharing.
With food bank use at an all-time high and media reports of children going to school hungry I feel like the message of Harvest Festival is more important than ever. It’s a time of year where we can teach our children about the food they may be taking for granted, a time where we can introduce them to charitable giving as a normal, day to day thing to do and use it as a time to look at the community around them. Is there a vulnerable older person in their street that might appreciate a visit with a plate of cookies or an offer of company? Is there a food bank collection near them that they can donate to? Are there people around them struggling at the moment who could get a huge lift out of a small act of kindness?
I had a (thankfully very short) period of my life when I wondered how I would feed myself and my child and I remember every single bit of help and kindness that was offered to me in that period. I am forever grateful for the comfortable circumstances I now live in and will never forget to pay that forward when I can.
“…so I’ll never forget, no I’ll never forget, to say a great big thank you, I’ll never forget.”
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