Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Least Favorite Holiday

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. I still remember the relief, in 6th grade, when I realized that I was no longer required to dress up for school or make the neighborhood rounds or otherwise participate in the "festivities".
I had this kid, though. Halloween was fun when she was little, mostly because she was just so damned cute and because she delights in everything. And sitting up late at night sewing star-spangled capes or searching stores for components of a costume she'd conceived in her mind and drawn for me became kind of fun. And she didn't have that moment of relief in sixth grade; she's 15 now and the whole Halloween season still delights her.
Which is how things like this happen to me and to Jake. And, somehow, turn out to be more fun than I remember or anticipated (though of course that's easy for me to say, since no one pulled my ears through little slits in my hat for the occasion. It's possible that Jake feels differently.)

It turns out, too, that there's more to Halloween than dressing funny and paying too much for candy that you can pass out to other people instead of eating it and then go around and try to gather up candy from other people to eat since you gave all yours away to strangers.

Pumpkin seeds, for example. I learned this year that you not only can but should eat them raw, which was a big bonus for me because I've never had much patience with that whole "let them dry overnight" thing. And having them available immediately provides a great diversion from the candy I'm supposed to be handing out to other people.

But it's not all about food. There are also corn mazes. I'm not sure why corn mazes are Halloween-specific: now that I've discovered them I'd like to go all the time and can't quite work out whether they're seasonal because they look Halloween-ish, because they're often haunted, or because that's when the corn is at the right point in its life cycle to form a maze instead of, say, dinner.

This year, we went to the Jonamac Orchard corn maze in Malta, and it was great--wide, clear paths, intricate pattern, and some fun checkpoints along the way where you could get a hint if you answered a question correctly or didn't mind singing Old McDonald's farm while pointing back and forth and counting in the middle of a cornfield.

At one point, we found ourselves alone in a clearing, surrounded by corn and bright blue fall skies, and Tori said there was only one thing to do in a circumstance like that. This isn't what I was expecting:

Then, of course, we headed out to teach neighborhood children to take candy from strangers. We'd spent Saturday morning creating this nice place to sit and hand out candy, and although it was a little chilly we weren't facing anything like the snow and slush my eastern friends were reporting.

After dancing around a bit, Tori announced that she was going to be a gypsy permanently. It's always risky letting her try something new.

Then, of course, we made our traditional holiday pizza and watched Scream 4.

Being a parent is educational in a lot of ways. You learn patience; you learn to go without sleep; you learn to smile even when you're stretched so thin that you're pretty sure you're going to snap; you learn to say "It's okay," in a soothing tone and not flinch when someone throws up in your hair...but I'm coming to believe that the most important thing we learn from our kids is how to see the world. In this case, that nearly anything is worth celebrating.

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