I've never met a September that didn't bring with it a somewhat overwhelming desire to buy school supplies and one brand spanking new outfit. Although I'm long past the days of jumping in the car pool to school or walking across the quad on campus, there's something about my midwest origins that values the rituals my mother instilled from an early age.
When I was young, a new school year meant a trip to the big city of Columbus for a shopping trip at Lazarus department store. There was one new pair of shoes, and a whole new outfit - a skirt, blouse, and some form of jacket or sweater. It was a really big deal to have just the right new outfit for that first day of school because it set the tone for the whole year. For my mom, it was all about first impressions making the difference between a good and bad year.
And I carried that practice forward to my children. Towards the end of summer, we would schedule a trip to go downtown to Dayton's, when Minneapolis still had a Dayton's. There we would pick out new school clothes and have lunch upstairs with other mothers and their kids, but mostly with The Ladies Who Lunch. There was always a large number of Ladies Who Lunch at Dayton's.
A few times the kids were in no mood to go school shopping in August. In Minnesota, it was State Fair time and that event takes precedence over anything else in the state. But I have always had a limit to how much time I can spend at the Fair without suffering Fair Overload - so having the diversion of Back to School Shopping was great for me. And after inflicting this ritual on my children year in and year out, they now show signs of harboring the same September sensibilities as I do.
It's at this time of year when my daughter will say she needs new pens, pencils, or markers. Why? Has she suddenly lost all writing utensils in her apartment? Not at all. It's simply the idea that a new pen marks a new beginning - the opportunity to puts words on paper with a steady stream of ink. New markers bring fresh color to the palette of the page. And there's nothing better than a newly sharpened pencil with an eraser that's never seen lead.
Is this just a phenomenon for me and my family, or do others find that September brings with it a sense of the possible in the future, filled with memories of fresh starts?