Back To School: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Autumn has always been one of my favorite seasons. the cool, crisp air, redolent with the scent of apples, and the prospect of a new school year looming large. School! Finally we would be allowed to use all those lovely new supplies that had been put away against the coming term.

The grave ritual of checking off each of the items on the school supplies list was a pleasure second only to the thrill of opening the plastic wrappings and carefully stowing each treasure in our new school bags. The final evening before the first day of school, shiny, new lunch boxes were set out on the counter, ready to be filled with the first of many school lunches.

Photo from: westonka.k12.mn.us
Photo from: westonka.k12.mn.us

We loved receiving new school supplies each fall, and each fall it seemed such a long wait until we were able to use them. Sometimes the temptation was overwhelming, and so our mom would break down and allow us to open up all the packages.

Oh, the joy of sharpening all the colored pencils, unwrapping the fresh, unmarked scribblers... The sheer pleasure of examining each pristine piece of the new geometry set, inhaling that unmistakable aroma of crisp, new foolscap, and snapping unblemished loose-leaf into our new three-ring binders.

Starting a new school year was always such a great adventure, made even more exciting by the promise of new supplies.

First-day jitters were often assuaged by the knowledge that our book-bags were stuffed full with all the glorious, required items - items that we were just itching to use.

Having the correct book-bag, or back-pack, can be almost as important as having the right school supplies in that carrier.

No matter the age of your child, you can find something that will appeal to both their fashion sense, and your budget.

It seems almost everyone is vying for your back-to-school dollars. I am a big fan of the using your local discount outlet for basic supplies, and then checking out several other sources for the "name-brand" articles on your shopping list.

Big-box stores often have great deals on school must-haves, as they can buy in bulk, which allows them to pass the savings on to you. As well, many drug store chains have entered the market as purveyors of school supplies, along with many of the large grocery store chains.

You may have to put a bit of extra effort into some leg work, and take the time to read all the "Back To School" fliers that crowd your mail box at this time of year, but some careful scouting, and comparison shopping, will save you money, and allow you to get the most bang for your buck.

Some of the school supplies we so adored have become office supplies in our grown-up lives.

The glue sticks, tape dispensers, note pads, and colored pens that inhabit our desks at work are grown-up relatives of those shiny new tools we so coveted as children.

I admit it - I am an office supply junky. I think it must stem from that yearly influx of school supplies that so tickled my child's fancy.

I love to troll the aisles of our local office supply chain, especially in the fall, looking for exactly the right set of file folders, a few new highlighters, some funky pens, a fun, colorful, new stapler - why do most staplers only seem to last a year or two?

I also remember shopping for my son's school supplies. Call me weird, but it was never a stress-filled dash through the stores for us. It was more like a relaxed dawdle up and down the aisles, list in hand, checking for the best bargains.

Many stores in our area now thoughtfully post school supply lists from various schools. They always have an extra copy on hand to help you with your shopping.

One of our all-time favorite items was the brand-new box of pencil crayons. Regular crayons were great, but once we officially graduated to grown-up pencil crayons , there was no going back to the childish waxen sticks - at least not at school.

Simply sharpening those colored pencils and inhaling the sharp aroma of wood shavings was enough to conjure images of school projects: maps, art work, social studies reports to illustrate, newly-papered book covers to be decorated.

There was just something so adult about those rainbow-hued miracles. Only big kids were privy to the slim, wooden color-sticks.

Only big kids were old enough, and possessed the motor skills to manipulate those slender coloring columns.

No more waxy residue, or smeary crumbles to brush from the page - only pristine color wielded by the hand of a big kid !

Looking back, I think that was the real key to their attraction - that one was considered a big kid once we had graduated to using pencil crayons.

I do know that learning to use pencil crayons was no easy task. I remember clearly having to learn to apply just enough pressure to apply the color without breaking the fragile points of the colored leads.

It was similar to learning how to write, as opposed to printing - learning to hold the pencil differently. There was a whole set of small-motor-skills set to be mastered  and refined in learning to color with these versatile new tools.

One of my personal favorites was the new pencil case with which we started each new school year. I remember one particularly delightful wooden case that featured a roll-top lid of tiny, hand-painted bamboo slats.

The exotic dragon pattern was worn off from constant opening and closing long before the end of the school year. The box lasted for several more years at home, long after it was replaced with the new school term's model the following fall.

The zip-top pencil cases of later years came in a wide variety of colors and styles. Some even had grommets, to fit into the brand-new three-ring binders we finally graduated to in junior high.

Though we were restricted by how much we could easily fit into our desks in grade school, once we became juniors, and were assigned lockers, we could spread out a bit more.

Unfortunately, by then the focus was placed more on stacks of text books, and binders full of notes, than on the wide variety of tools we had come to love in grade school.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I love this commercial, and eagerly await the new version that hits the TV waves each fall. One memorable season featured Gene Simmons of the rock group, Kiss, cavorting about the store in full makeup, collecting school supplies for his completely unenthusiastic baby-Goth child. It was too funny.

This is one of their earlier efforts, but this same actor pops up almost every season, and is quite droll in his portrayal of an exuberant father dragging his totally under-whelmed children through the store while showering them with school supplies.

I hope you enjoy it, too, while you are shopping for your best deals in school supplies.

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© 2010 RedElf

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26 comments

Candie V profile image

Candie V 6 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

I would have to agree with everything you said, from the colored pencils to the first day jitters! I think the lists the schools are handing out these days are huge compared to what we needed.. now they include things for earthquake/emergency packs, too! Thanks RedElf!


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

I remember when I used to be excited to go back to school. Yeah... not anymore. No way. My second year in college starts on Aug. 31st and I'm already seeing my freedom slipping away. (Sigh).

On a happy note, I enjoyed your Hub! Thanks for a good read.


michelle.dragon99 profile image

michelle.dragon99 6 years ago

your hub has reminded me the time when i was in childhood where those sweet memories still hanging around my mind...love this touching feeling, love to have the eagerness want to prepare pencil box, jumpers and lunch box....thanks:)


msorensson profile image

msorensson 6 years ago

Oh I remember...it was always exciting. Now my little boy is grown...

Thank you for the hub, RedElf For the memories.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

I think you covered all the back to schools needs quite thoroughly. Good hub.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Candie V, I have to wonder if they really need all those things...hmmm. Maybe it was simpler "back then" ;)

I still love those activities - thanks, michelle.dragon

They grow up much too fast, don't they, msorenson... :)

Thanks, Pam, for stopping by and commenting.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

You are most welcome, kaltopsyd. College can be a bit of a slog - I remember it well. Still, I found registering for classes, and the mile-long line-ups at the book store couldn't completely dim my enthusiasm. Chin up!


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

Lovely hub, Red Elf. Thank you! I liked all the school stuff--the notebooks, the pencil boxes, the backpacks, the composition books. I guess I just like paraphernalia.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Me too, my dear Paradise7, and thanks so much for stopping by to comment - love your new avatar, btw!


WriteAbout profile image

WriteAbout 6 years ago

I also like back to school- the kiddo is still in the "I love school" phase so its great! Fantastic hub and great ideas- wishing it was a printable checklist hub :)


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Love this time of year, too - always was a wee bit sad to see the summertime end with our kids though because it was so much more relaxing and 'free' but then our kids were always so into school that it was refreshing. And with school came activities - and soccer - and then the holidays...I confess I have no favorite time of year because they are ALL my favorites times of the year. Well done though and makes me miss my kids being young!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

I LOVED those fresh, unbroken, box of crayons every year. So many possibilities! Great hub-brought back many memories. Thanks. :)


TransScribbler 6 years ago

Hi RedElf! Once again, I find myself being taken back more years than I really care to count by one of you hubs!

I can remember my mother covering exercise books and binder, slicing the ends of pencils and writing my name there, sewing name tags in new uniforms, labeling lunch boxes and drink bottles.

The down side of staring school for the year here in .au was that it happened with six weeks of summer left :(


Putz Ballard profile image

Putz Ballard 6 years ago

Ahh, those were the days. The excitement of starting a new school year were. We didn't have all these goodies, just a simple blue back notebook and a few #2 pencils, but i remember shopping for my boys. New book bags, and all those other things kids must have.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

WriteAbout, you are one lucky parent - they grow up so very, very fast ;)

akirchner, I have many favorite seasons as well. Fall has always been a time of crisp, new beginnings, and looking forward for me.

Thanks, Denise - yes, that's it! ...all the possibilities; all the yet-to-be-discovered wonders!

I totally agree - starting school with six weeks of summer left would have taken the polish off my apple, too, TransScribbler! Love the newness and all the preparations, though.

I remember a very simple (and short) list from my early grades - some schools even supplied text books free of charge, that were reused by successive classes of children the following years. I remember the long shelf of "readers" for higher levels waiting for us to "grow into them"...


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks for bringing back THAT memory, Putz


kingkhan78 profile image

kingkhan78 6 years ago

interesting information about back to school thanks for sharing


Seakay profile image

Seakay 6 years ago from Florida

As a teacher, I must say you have certainly covered this topic with enthusiasm! Yes, there is nothing like new school supplies unless it's that new designer lunchbox (since lunch is always the best time of the day! LOL)


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks for stopping by to comment, kingkhan!

Love the lunchboxes, Seakay - saved them for their own hub :D:D:D


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

I loved the way you described the anticipation of the beginning of school. My children used to love to go school shopping and buying all of those new supplies. It seems to me though, now they are going a little overboard with their supply lists. But for them, the most fun of all was choosing a bookbag, it had to be just the right style. Thanks RedElf, for another great hub


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks to you, too, Gals for stopping by to read and comment - always a pleasure to see you. I still experience that same lift of the spirits every fall, and have the urge to go supply shopping ;) I may be part gosling - it seems to be imprinted in me from childhood.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Well done researh and very good selection. Thank you for sharing


Gift Experts profile image

Gift Experts 6 years ago

GOod theme! I've always loved fall, going back to school. It was hope - -hope for the future. .Great focus here.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much, friend Hh! Thanks so much for stopping by to comment!

Thanks, Gift Experts - yes, it's a very hopeful time of year for me, too.


gajanis786 profile image

gajanis786 6 years ago

Good....infact this is an experience which every parent themselves must have gone through themselves when they were kids.....and now being parent they are experiencing these wonderful things for their own children.....Good Day.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

gajanis786, thanks so much for stopping by to comment!

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