This last weekend was an enjoyable get together for my little family, which includes my husband, John, and his two sons who live with their mother a few hours away. It’s unfortunate but our visits aren’t as often now that they are growing; the eldest is taking college courses and works full-time in retail, and his schedule isn’t kind enough to give him weekends to see his dad and stepmom. And believe it or not, Ripley, I have come close to calling that store and inquire as to why they won’t give him time to see his dad and stepmom! Yeah, that would certainly score my kid some points with the adult world, his stepmom lashing at his boss.
But his younger brother visits when the schedules allow it (three adult working schedules and his electives which take up his own time), and Halloween is around the corner. We are always ones to celebrate it to some degree any free time we get through the entire month! We probably are that family that makes people ask, “Um, isn’t Halloween just for the kids?”
Not in our house.
Of course, even though he is our youngest, our youngest isn’t little anymore. There is no costume he’s been thinking about, he can go buy his own candy any time he wants from the gas station around the corner from his house, and he and his friends may or may not “do something” for the holiday. I still remember applying brown cream makeup with a sponge to his cheeks and chin to create a stubbly beard and moustache when he was younger to be Daryl from The Walking Dead.
But there we were at the round table in the dining room, three pumpkins carved open, stringy innards being clawed or scooped out with spoons and knives to create Jack-o-Lanterns.
The last year or two feels like one pumpkin with more gross, stringy guts to deal with and very few seeds of good memories to consider. It takes a while to pry out the good, to clean them and admire the result of the hard work.
And then you get to set the pumpkin on fire…sort of.
Despite the off and sometimes awful year, we keep a smile on for our kids and hope they don’t sense how close we are to losing it. So we put a smile on, as rough as it may be like the jagged lines I carved into my pumpkin’s face. We smile and show them there is a bit of hope in the dark, like our candles in the pumpkins on the porch. And if the wind blows the light out? Well, we will just relight them however many times we need.
We enjoyed a Haunted Trail in OKC later that night, where my husband and youngest proved to be related by not at all being freaked out by a Freddy Kreuger or Leatherface coming at them with a chainsaw. Much to my dismay, I was the only one having to breathe in and out and say “it’s not real, it’s not real, it’s not real.”
Sometimes, I wish I could say that aloud about what’s happening in real life. But it is real sometimes. So I better put the light in the Jack-o-Lantern and keep smiling.