The Beautiful Nostalgia of Back to School

Back to school shopping time is upon us, and it is cause for celebration! This time of year marks the beginning of a brand-new, all-possibilities-exist, clean-slate new year!

Do you remember the joy of sweet Septembers of youth? Make back to school time a time to savour the sweet taste of nostalgia – and let it spill over to your own kids. Starting early is key (why not grab paper and pencils now and keep them in a drawer until fall?). Then, think back to how September felt when we were kids and let it wash over you. Take a moment right now to stop what you’re doing and breathe in, imagining the smell of your sixth grade pencil case. That heady mix of sharpened pencil crayons, cherry-scented novelty erasers, and fresh ink?

That’s the smell of fresh starts, new adventures, and delicious opportunity.

Ask a parent of school-age children between the ages of 4-18 when they think the actual New Year starts. Almost no one will come back with “January 1st.” That’s because parents know the real start to a year – the real time of renewal – falls somewhere around September 3 or 4, when school is back in session. And it makes sense! By late August, summer is softening naturally around the edges, but it’s still warm, and each day holds promise. Wake up on the actual January New Year anywhere in Canada and you’re likely to come face to face with empty champagne bottles, piles of glitter, and perhaps even a regret or two. Contrast this to the optimism of a new school year with crisp mornings, fresh packed lunches and new haircuts, and you can easily see why September makes a better choice as a time to start over.

For many of us, the night before school began was fraught with almost as much nervous excitement as holiday mornings. Who would be your teacher? Would you be in the same class as your best friend? Was there going to be a drama club or hockey team tryout in your future? The mystery and unknowing of a new school calendar was both sweet and prickly at once; these were questions we could not answer as we laid awake in bed, new folded outfits and spotless running shoes waiting for to bring them to life in the morning. This was growth, this unknown; this was patience and learning to managing anticipation. This was the start of a new year so unfettered by anything that came before it that it was almost literally a wiping clean of old slates. Anything was possible. Anything could happen. THIS is the feeling we should impart on our children; not one of following new school lists to the letter and preemptive (and as of yet unnecessary) scolding’s of “this year you’d better…”

The fun and carefree spirit of summer is when so many memories are created for our kids. We can help soften the reality of this “back to books” time by embracing our own nostalgia about September renewals. Because like a brand new lined notebook, September and back-to-school is a blank page, just waiting for the colour and life to be drawn in – in our own hand.

Stay updated with all things Staples this summer by checking out our back to school centre at

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