Why pumpkins make me happy

Why pumpkins make me happy

Pumpkins make me happy.

They make me travel through time, every year from October 1-Thanksgiving Day. They transport me to pumpkin patches, back to my kids’ childhoods, when my little boys picked out their first pumpkins and we road on hay wagons together and carved jack-o-lanterns.

I remember Bruce’s first pumpkin patch picture: he wore a blue jean and flannel jumpsuit and adorable little hiking boots. It was an unusual 80-degree Virginia day, and we were sweating like lumberjacks.

I repeated the event 3 years later, dressing Bruce and Brent in matching green sweatshirts, jeans, and boots. Brent was so little, I had to wedge him between the pumpkins so he wouldn’t fall over. It was a hot sunny day in southern California, and you guessed it—we were sweating. But we looked fall-ish.

I remember riding on a hay wagon during Brent’s kindergarten fieldtrip to the pumpkin patch, and I happened to sit next to a beautiful mom with long, red hair, and we held on to our chubby babies and our kindergarten boys while we introduced ourselves, and she soon became one of my dearest friends.

I remember Brady’s first Halloween—he was 2 months old and we were new to the neighborhood—and we hosted a trick-or-treat party for the whole street and invited all our neighbors to our house. I had the windows open because it was another rare 80-degree fall day. Brady was dressed in a pumpkin costume, swinging in his baby swing, sweating under his pumpkin hat and looking completely delicious but slightly sticky.

I remember the elementary parties and making cut-out pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies with orange icing. I remember carving oh, so many pumpkins at the last minute, buying candy at the last minute. Making costumes and dressing up kids for trick-or-treating, harvest festivals, and school concerts.

There was Brady’s preschool program when he was 4. He was dressed in a flannel gray squirrel costume, and he was running a low fever, but he was too cute to keep at home. I took him anyway, and he stood on the risers, so sad and feverish, sweating under his gray squirrel jacket and bushy tail. But he sang, so it was worth it.

There was the school Thanksgiving concert, where kids were designated as either Indians or pilgrims. Brent was an Indian—all paint, beads, and feathers—and Brady was a pilgrim, with big black hat and an uncomfortable white collar. I could barely keep him in it long enough to take a picture. I think he might have been sweating then, too.

I remember all the costume-making—all the knights, ninjas, armymen, super-heroes—kids excited to be something new and me excited to watch them be themselves. Fall festivals, apple orchards, fall foliage, family time. Baking pumpkin everything and drinking apple cider until we floated away. We roasted pumpkin seeds from our jack-o-lanterns in the over and decided that they tasted awful.

And pumpkins everywhere—fall decorating is absolutely the best! Leaves and pumpkins of all colors. Pumpkins somehow have become the designated symbol for harvest and thankfulness and cuteness. Another year of memories in the books.

That’s why pumpkins make me happy. It’s not just the taste of pumpkin cupcakes and cream cheese frosting. It’s the memories and beauty. It’s happiness–that grasping on to beauty and love. Pumpkins is thankfulness: honoring this slice of time, every year, that slows me down enough to gasp at the wonder of creation and the wonder of family, even if I have to sweat to enjoy it.


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