Sunday, November 01, 2015

A Halloween Retrospective

Provosts in a pumpkin patch circa 1975
Ah, Halloween.  As a youngin' in the 70s and 80s, my Halloweens were slightly different from your early 21st century celebrations.  As you can see here, the pumpkin patch we visited in Indiana was a barren throwback to the Dust Bowl into which they trucked a load of pumpkins, then lined them up sort of neatly to give the appearance that they sprang up from the ground for our carving and seed-roasting pleasure.  I do recall there being a pony there for me to ride* and while I don't recollect this specifically, I'm certain there were hayrides.

Prior to the Big Night, I would get revved up for this holiday by waiting excitedly for The Great Pumpkin to come on as a CBS evening special.  It was exciting.  There'd be a silent written announcement that the regularly scheduled programming would not be seen, then they had this "duh duh duh duh" drumroll with the word "special" surrounded by all manner of colors come right at you as it twisted in a spiral, like it was being born in your face.  It's on!  It's on! It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!  Now we own a copy on DVD and the only thing stopping you girls from watching it any time you want is your father and me.

Well before CBS was interrupting its regularly scheduled programming and
we were all making sure we'd gone to the bathroom, had snacks and our places were "saved with everything in them", my mother and I had secured my costume.  Early on, it was always store-bought, with a big, plastic mask and an equally plastic but pliable matching outfit.  Would you like to sweat and sweat while being outside in the cold?  These are the ensembles for you! "Trick or Treat!  I'll take some inedible Mary Janes and hypothermia!" These costumes had everything.  Even so, to this day, the smell they emitted (now we call it off-gassing and have discovered it leads to neurological damage and infertility) throws me into a fond, misty-eyed nostalgia.  As I grew and those costumes no longer fit me, or more wisely, were no longer on the market due to their highly flammable nature, I was responsible for cobbling together something from found objects in the household.  by "found" I of course mean that I ransacked my brothers' rooms and stole their crap.  I didn't have an Aunt Jo Jo making me fabulous costumes that require hip new footwear.  Indeed, I had to work it out myself and the only help I got from my parents was when they ate half of each piece of my candy to insure there "weren't any razor blades" in it. 

I grew to the point that trick or treating was no longer a thing.  It happens, as you girls are just beginning to note.  Then it was all about the parties.  There was apple bobbing, a barbaric practice involving plunging one's face into icy cold water and attempting to retrieve, using only your teeth, the prize - an apple.  As I emerged from child into early adulthood my fellow revelers and I found far superior things for which to bob.  There was a lot more huddling indoors and watching horror movies in honor of the day, too.  I remember my parents splitting duties between taking kids trick or treating or handing out candy.  Then, I remember just going out with my friends, no parents.  Now we abandon the house entirely so we can all go out together, and we head to our neighbors' houses, and the grown-ups go out into the streets with the kids and we bring our own grown-up beverages, often we bring refills in wagons we tote along behind that I think of it, while I have great Halloween memories from my childhood, I think I'm enjoying your childhood Halloweens even more.  

* "ride" here means - sit upon wide-eyed and staring pleadingly with my parents while it's tied to something and allowed to take 4 or 5 steps forward and back.

Friday, October 30, 2015

You know What? Ima Keep This Blog Alive

I know that Kate, at least, is reading this thing now.  I failed in my attempt to get words out of my own parents (slackers), so I guess it's up to me to be sure that Kate, at least, has something to read. 

It occurred to me as my the sun was setting upon my childhood, that I'd never really thought at all about my parents' lives apart from their involvement with me.  I realized, kind of unpleasantly, that it was probable that they had a great deal going on in their days and their bodies and their social circles, and various relationships that actually had nothing to do with me at all. It was like I looked up from something I'd been absorbed in reading (a little novella titled Myself) and realized they'd been in the room with me and I hadn't even  noticed or acknowledged them.  This is what it's like to realize your parents are human.  Some people think it happens when you witness your parents making some kind of mistake, or when they become ill or die.  Perhaps, for some, that's the case.  For me, it was more subtle and dependent upon my growing up a bit.

I only mention this because I assume that my daughters don't bother to think at all about what my life is like apart from them, and I'm fine with that. I do expect, though, that one day they'll wonder.  So, I've been thinking of coming back in here and sharing with them the sort of things I think about, and how I see them during these times that they are making their own assumptions about how I see them.  There are things I'd like to say to them that they aren't ready or willing to hear, but I can write them down here, and they can choose to come back and peruse it later.  Or not. I've read a lot of blog posts from other mothers that were written to their daughters - general advice on womanhood and adulthood - and I think that's all well and good but they're usually not what I want someone to say to my daughters, so here's my chance.  It's risky, of course, because as a rule, us mothers are insane, and I'm about to put my insanity down in writing (something my own mother repeatedly warned me not do), but so what? And you know what else?  I think I'll cuss.  All those years I kept this blog of my babies I never cussed because it was a family space, and the thought of hearing foul language from my sweets daughters' lips makes me cringe but the truth is, I like cussing and I do it a lot.  You've been warned.