Last week F came up with a great idea. We have been talking about starting a growth chart for S. My family had one in an upstairs closet and as kids, we always got a big kick out of shoving aside the clothes, waiting patiently while a parent traced the pencil line above our head, and crowing with delight when we saw how much we had grown – and how much closer we were inching towards our older siblings!

Sure, S is only 13 months old. But we figure if he can stand on his own two feet, we can start measuring. So F came up with the brilliant idea of how to remember to measure our kids’ growth each year: we’ll do it on the ND-Michigan game each fall.

This is a High Holy day in our family, as it is for families around the Midwest. Every college football team boasts its big rivalries, but the UMich game has always been particularly sacred. When you hail from the MItten but bleed gold and blue, this is the team to beat. It’s the one day of the year that I profess no love for my home state.

So now our autumn Saturday rituals will have one more added to their number. We make the salsa dip, turn on the TV (a rare occurrence in our house), and snuggle up on the couch to watch the best team in the land play football. We high five at every touchdown, sing the fight song with the marching band, tear up at the sentimental ND ads, call family members to celebrate after great plays, and inevitably end up eating too much junk food.

It’s the best of ritual: breaking bread, singing songs, gathering with those we love, celebrating and giving thanks.

If our team wins, we rejoice. If they lose, we mourn. But we come back next week to do it all over again. Because these are the moments that set this time of year apart from all others. This is how we hold on the past and yet embrace the future. This is how we remember who we are and where we came from.

What fall rituals does your family celebrate – religious, sports-related, or otherwise?

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