What was your childhood like? Do you remember what you did when you were five? What about at age ten? Why is it that as you grow up, you remember more? It might feel like I’m attacking you with countless questions. You might also think that none of them are important. Oh, but on the contrary, these questions are important.

When I was a 5-year-old, I went to Disney for the first time with my family, and I can still recall specific events. Maybe it's because of all the pictures my mother took. My mother seems to think we never have enough photos. She believes every outing provides a chance for a photo session. When I was 10, I went through the “I hate being a kid, so I want to become an adult now” phase. Looking back, I know that I took my childhood for granted.

It’s autumn now. The leaves are falling, and I know the farmers are finishing up harvesting the corn. Christmas is just around the corner, and this means graduation day is just up ahead. Yet, I’m not excited. I’m terrified. Don't get me wrong, I’m excited to start a new chapter in my life, but not at the cost of saying goodbye.

Having to say goodbye to my school, my friends (half of them are some pretty amazing teachers), and my family will be one of the most difficult things I do. I’m not ready to say goodbye to them. I’m not ready to say goodbye to the familiarity of my life. I’m not ready to say goodbye to my soon-to-be old life. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to be more thankful and appreciative. Also, I wish I could tell my past self to study harder, because she was kind of a procrastinator. Lastly, I wish I could tell her to hug her family tighter, because some of those people won’t be there in the future, and she’ll miss them.

This season I’ve decided to be more thankful, and to hug my loved ones tighter. I know I will eventually have to grow up and start new. But, not today.

I’m going to take more photos with my mom, and watch football with my dad. I’ll listen to my sister talk about becoming a teacher. For right now, I’m 17, without a care in the world, with the best support team behind me. I promise to make this year last forever.

Grab a cup of pumpkin spice, or apple cider, turn on the Halloween movies, and find the candy corn and peanuts. Oh, and make sure your family is gathered around you. So, from my family to yours, let the Joyces be the first to say, “Happy Fall Y’all.”