Well, summer is well and truly over. Autumn’s crispness is in the air and darker nights are creeping in a little earlier each day. As a child, I loved this time of year. Darker nights meant the run-in to Halloween had begun. There was always something exciting about playing outside when the world had slowed down for the evening and there was always something warm and welcoming about coming home.
All the houses with their lights glowing behind drawn curtains seemed so inviting and ours was no different. I would be welcomed home with hot chocolate or tea and toast. The fire would be burning and the room would be bathed in a flickering light as we sat around with hands wrapped around our warm drinks.
Like most families, we spent our days each doing our own thing. In the evenings after losing the traditional homework argument (“but I can do it later!”) my sister and I would head off to call for friends and stretch our curfews as much as possible. But when Autumn arrived and eased into winter, I looked forward to coming home to a roaring fire and the welcoming safety of my family. Sibling rivalries would be forgotten as we enjoyed the heat of the open fire and the stories each of us told about our day. The television was usually on and sometimes we’d watch a show we all liked, but just as often the TV would merely supply background noise to our chattering and laughter.
We had only four channels and if you missed your programme when it aired you had no way to see it later – unless you had one of those fancy video recorders. In those days our coal was delivered by “the coal man” who just seemed to magically appear in the backyard and empty bags of coal into our coal bunker with a loud rumble and crash.
Now I spend the Autumn nights with my own family around our own open fire. While today we can watch any programme at any time and the video recorder, like the coal man, has all but been resigned to history, our nights at home are just as cosy as when I was a child. Our fire is as warm and inviting as I remember it being over 40 years ago. The way we buy coal might be different, but the feeling of togetherness, comfort and safety is exactly the same.
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