I live in a lively English market town, with lots of pets and children. And yet, it's my garden that sports the scarecrow, the snowman, the jack-o-latern, and twinkling lights, marking the seasons. It's the same for most places I've lived, except for New Jersey, where, judging by the spirited adornment of home and garden, might well qualify as America's Most Playful State.
Folks in my town refer to my place as "The American's House." They seem to think, maybe from watching Martha Stewart re-runs, that all Americans decorate our abodes and surrounding environs. Outside of New Jersey, which now that I think of it, was the birth place of Martha Stewart, America is no more domestically decorative than Britain.
My favourite part of parenthood was the creative, making stuff together part. I loved it and still love it, years after my child is busily making stuff with her own child.
This autumn, I was the only person on my long street to make scarecrows for my garden, celebrating our town's scarecrow festival. Everyone else left it up to the merchants and volunteer groups. It was as if we're so accustomed to the commercialization of everything, we no longer remember how, or why, we might want to create things ourselves.
Keeping our child self alive is important. Resurrecting our child self, if long dormant, matters. Making stuff, be it cookies, sculpture, garden, or a scarecrow, is one of the best ways I know to indulge our playful spirit. The more spontaneous we are, the more wonder we experience for all of life - even the hard parts.