Pumpkin Time Comes Alive!
Pumpkin time was a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 on the farm where I grew up. Don’t get me wrong, anxious kids awaited Halloween, but with far less enthusiasm than adults and kids do now. Like today, we carved pumpkins, lit lanterns and told stories and watched plays–just in a more conservative way. Our costumes were “too-big”, old clothes that did not represent anyone or anything, except to make us look ugly. Faces were painted with easy-off white chalk and black coal. The idea was to look ghostly and “witchy.” No one thought about being a Superman or Cinderella.
The neat thing about pumpkin time was that many neighbors grew pumpkins in their own fields and all we had to do was ask for one and it was given to us freely. Hungry kids dug out the mushy insides, fried the seeds and had a munching good time.
School Plays and Stories Highlighted Halloween
As I reflect on fond memories, I see a bright-eyed kid waiting impatiently for a homemade curtain to rise, indicating the school play was about to begin. The actors were not sophisticated actors and actresses, but neighborhood high school kids from the adjoining farm. I saw a hand flip the light switch, darkness settled around me, and I found myself inching closer to Mom and Dad.
Slowly, a stream of light trickled across the stage and the play begin. Spooky noises came from farm tools : the rattling of chains, banging on buckets and heavy items dropped on the floor. “Whoo-oo-oo-oo!” I inched a little closer. All of these made a four-year-old pretty jumpy! But . . . when the scary stuff was over, prepared family recipes and hot popcorn made it all worthwhile. Highlighting Halloween time, were the games that adults and children played together. Pumpkin time was at its best!
Halloween Today: Let’s fast forward a few decades and look at Halloween today. Begin with the hundreds of TV ads announcing impending events, uniquely dressed ghosts, Cleopatras, Cinderellas and Disney characters reminding us that it’s time to buy a costume. Pumpkins have artistic designs that look nothing like the original. They almost need a highly trained artist to create them. Witches and dragons are created in elegant costumes in kitchens that every housewife would love to replace theirs with. Commercials rang out with messages that let you believe “this is the best Halloween yet!”
As the great day approaches, homes become “Halloweenie” inside and out. Money flows! Halloween is only second to Christmas in money spent for the occasion. Wow! We have been mesmerized very well! Industry makers have made us feel that not only do we have to dress Johnny in the “coolest” costume possible, but moms and dads have to win the best-dressed trophy also.
Somehow, I escaped most of this mesmerism. I simply watch it all today, but there was a time my participation involved purchasing a bag of candy for the school party, 4 to 5 bags to give out to neighbor’s kids and making sure my kids had fairly cute costumes. After all, I did not want them to feel . . . different. I also made my way down the street with them as they banged on doors to get their own bags filled with candy. Well, I guess I had uh . . . limited brainwashing.
Movies Play a Role in Halloween Time
Let’s not forget the role movies play during pumpkin time. The industry spends millions of dollars making movies that frighten us to death! Technology allows them to make monsters so creepy and scary our children have nightmares. But, we keep going. Each year, it happens all over again–just a wee bit creepier.
I am watching a channel called “Food,” and it is simply incredible what the participants are doing! They have created chocolate and sugar-coated creatures that one would be afraid to pick-up, much less eat. I am astounded! What is next! I suppose the motive is to promote happiness by instilling “screams.” I am not sure about that, but what I am sure about is, “It’s Halloween Time!”
If you have a Facebook or Twitter friend who wants to understand the”super time” Americans have during Halloween, pass this along!