I love family traditions. They’re what make holidays special—even Halloween. Each year I looked forward to going to the pumpkin patch to pick out my pumpkin. It was as serious as choosing our family’s Christmas tree. That pumpkin had to have an ideal surface for carving—not too flat and not too round. I always favored the short and squatty ones so I could carve out a crazy, wide-mouthed grin. But before I did, I’d make Daddy scoop out all the innards for me. I just couldn’t stand the thought of puttin’ my hands in that slimy mess. It didn’t help that Bubba kept calling it the pumpkin’s “brains.” But once Daddy had that pumpkin cleaned out, I insisted on doing the rest myself. Back in those days we didn’t have all those nifty little carving tools they sell now. We grabbed the longest, sharpest kitchen knife we could find and went at that poor pumpkin with gusto. Funny we didn’t cut our arms off.
Memories like these nourish us even when our Mommas and Daddies are long gone. I guess that’s why I’m so set on keepin’ up with Halloween traditions like making special treats for the kids and decorating my house with giant spiders, cobwebs and flying witches. I want my grandchildren to think of trick-or-treatin’ at “Ginny’s” house as something special. Sure, they probably think I’m a bit off my rocker for going to the lengths I do, but as long as we’re having fun, I don’t much care.
I’ve started some traditions of my own, too. Each year since my grandson Jack was born, I’ve set up a little Halloween village for him. It’s a set I bought a while back. I try to add to it each year. It’s a village with spooky houses playing music, streetlights that glow, pumpkins that light up and ghosts and witches that fly about. It has mesmerized Jack since day one. I set it up at my house outside the bedroom I have for him and he just stares and stares at it, his little imagination going crazy.
As y’all probably know, I’m touring around on a bus this month promotin’ my new Southern Cooking Bible. It’s so much fun meeting up with new people along the way, but I’ll be on the road until October 30th! Of course, I wouldn’t let that stop me from setting up Jack’s village, so Brandon and I went and took everything over and set him up the village in Brooke and Jamie’s dinning room. And Jack was in hog heaven. We couldn’t get it arranged quick enough for him to rearrange it.
And this year is even more special because his little brother Matthew can enjoy it too. Matthew’s Momma held him up to get a good look at it and his eyes got real big. He wanted to get his hands on those ghosts so bad, but I have a feeling Big Brother Jack is going to keep a pretty close eye on his village.
I suppose I’m sharing this with y’all because I want you to remember what it’s like to see Halloween through the eyes of a child. The little things like decorating, putting together goody bags for the neighbor kids, and carving pumpkins can mean so much. So much that they become tomorrow’s fondest memories.