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.
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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