The leaves on the trees are gone, and the sky is a clear blue. The wind is cool and crisp, and it smells like fresh pumpkins and cookies. It’s Halloween: The best time of the year, in my opinion. I used to love Christmas the most, but after that what’s next? On Halloween, people get to decorate their houses and cook creamy pumpkin pies. And of course, after Halloween I get to look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas and spending time with my family. Halloween is like a welcoming door.
I get the excitement for the holidays from my mother. She raised my brother and me to have cheer and enthusiasm during the holidays. Halloween was another day to celebrate and act like a kid for her.
We always began Halloween with going to the pumpkin patch. This was a serious business. We would all go on a Saturday afternoon in my dad’s old Ford Ranger. My dad’s truck had those old school seats that pulled out from the sides.
The ride in itself was an exciting experience for two children. When we pulled up to the graveled driveway of the Houston’s Garden Center, the orange sight of the pumpkins used to explode in my eyes, and my brother and I got antsy as Dad tried to find parking.
Once Mom opened the doors we would run towards the pumpkin patch. I loved the huge pumpkins while Ryan liked to line up the tiny, baby pumpkins. My dad would help me find the perfectly round and unbruised one, and Mom would help Ryan find two baby pumpkins: one for me, and one for him.
I always felt sorry for the other pumpkins that didn’t get to go home with us. But I told myself they would all get homes eventually. When we got in the car to go back home, Ryan and I would discuss what type of face we should carve while patting the giant orange rock on its sides.
That night Mom would set out newspapers on the kitchen table, and Dad would grab his carving knife. By this time, Ryan and I would be jumping in our chairs. Dad would outline the face we drew earlier that afternoon onto the pumpkin. Then, he would use the huge carving knife to cut the tip off. Yes! This was our favorite part.
I don’t know why gooeyness is so attractive to children, but reaching our tiny hands into the pumpkin to take out the gooey “guts” and seeds made this so much more fun for Ryan and me. The slippery and sticky texture was so funny feeling we would rub it all over our hands and arms. Even Mom didn’t mind if we got some on our clothes.
After the process of “de-gooing” the pumpkin was done, Dad would carve out the face. Once that was done, we stared at a goofy smiling pumpkin named Spooky. Mom would stick a candle inside, and we would all pile outside into our dark front lawn. The process was done. Spooky was left right by the bushes.
The next day, Dad would always have us all outside with our sweaters and toys and help him put up Halloween decorations: The RIP sign with the hands coming out of the ground, the ghost that hung from the tree, the “Happy Halloween” flag that hung from our door, and of course Mr. Skeleton. This guy always sat on our bench acting relaxed with his boney legs crossed. Chloe, our Golden Retriever, would always sniff and wag her tail in greeting to our scary friend.
Meanwhile, Mom would be inside putting up her decorations: Numerous red and black Halloween figurines and plants. Then, there was Mr. Bones an old skeleton friend who hung off our front door. He has been there before Ryan and I were even born. Mom always told us he wasn’t something to be afraid of. He was there to protect us. Finally, our newly acquired Mr. Funny Bones who sang and moved his jawbone. They were all considered family.
In the late afternoon, Ryan would usually fall asleep playing with his numerous dinosaur and animal toys, and I would doze in the living room couch. I always felt cozy and comfortable while the smell of Mom’s cooking traveled into the room making the house feel warm. The different smells of pies, ginger, pumpkin, and vanilla cookies enveloped my senses.
By this time it was close to Halloween and Mom would take us to Target to buy our costumes. Usually, Ryan was an animal, and I was a Disney character. Simba one year and a 101 Dalmatian the next. Feeling bubbly and excited, Ryan and I would return home to watch Halloween movies that had started playing on the Disney channel for the next few days. All we did at that point was wait.
No matter how old I get I will always have these memories. Seeing a pumpkin carved out on a front porch reminds me of the sticky hands that were a result of it. Whenever I smell the crisp, warm smell of pumpkin and vanilla I am reminded of my mother’s cooking and the home I grew up in. And of course, when I see a lawn full of decorations I will remember the trouble my dad went through to make our lawn the best on the street. Fall reminds me of how comfortable and exciting my childhood was. All thanks to my parents.
Now I am in college. I will not be home for Halloween, but when I see a pumpkin, or when I smell spices I will feel at home. Even though my family stopped carving pumpkins and going to the pumpkin patch a long time ago, the fun time my family had left a mark in my memory and in my heart.
My parents taught me the most important lesson at an early age. Children should always feel comfortable and content at home. I feel so sorry for those children who don’t get to experience the joys like I did.
Because of my parents, I will raise my children with that much bliss. Happy Halloween.