This time of year, pumpkins with carved faces appear on porches and steps.
Ever wonder why we carve pumpkins on Halloween?
The tradition originated from an Irish myth about an old drunk called “Stingy Jack.”
It’s easy to guess why he was called stingy. He never wanted to pay for his drinks and always tricked his drinking partner into paying. And that little habit got him into big trouble when Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink.
Here’s the story…
Pumpkins replaced turnip jack-o-lanterns when waves of Irish immigrants came to America in the 1800’s to escape the Potato Famine. They quickly discovered that pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out.
And, that folks is how the tradition of carving and lighting pumpkins for Halloween began.
~~~A longer version of this blog appeared on View from the Front Porch on October 12, 2013
2020 has strained/is straining us all. I found this quote from Holley Gerth encouraging. We will get through all the turmoil, the virus, the mask wearing, and the social distancing and there is hope that we’ll become better for having traveled through it all.
Our morning walks are getting spooky as neighbors began to decorate for Halloween.
This yard decoration is not my favorite.
Not a fan of spiders period. Especially giant eyed spiders surrounded by ghosts and blinking jack-o-lanterns.
The yard pictured below with a recreation of Washington Irving’s 1820 “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is more what I think of when I think of spooky and scary.
I love how the short story about a headless horseman who terrorizes the real-life village of Sleepy Hollow resurfaces at Halloween every year. It’s America’s first ghost story—and one of its scariest.
This doozy 2020 is scary enough on its own. Not sure we even need a Halloween this year, and I know the CDC will not be encouraging us to knock on random doors and share treats with strangers.
We don’t celebrate Halloween at our house. With only Buster and Finn around, it’s like a repeat of all the fireworks on the Fourth of July, too much noise.
But for those of you who do celebrate and need some social distancing ideas for this year, let me suggest four.
Plan a spooky dinner with things like spaghetti eyeballs, Jack o’ lantern quesadillas, witch’s hair pasta, Dead Man’s Finger hot dogs. Or a breakfast of Vampire doughnuts. Have everyone—mom and dad included—dress in costume!
Like Easter egg hunts, hide individual pieces of candy around the house or yard and let the kids fill bags or plastic pumpkins with the bounty they find.
Or provide hints to follow for a spooky scavenger hunt to search for a pre-filled plastic pumpkin for each kid. Mom or Dad can hide and jump-scare older kids along the route.
Spend an evening watching spooky movies
Turn the lights out and have plenty of popcorn and candy treats available. Movie choices are almost endless from tame (It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!) to terrifying (Annabelle) and lots in between (Hocus Pocus).
This year has been hard. I could just stop there but let me be more specific.
As a music teacher, it has been hard to teach without singing, sharing instruments or playing any passing games. In fact, I wrote a poem telling about this. You can read it here.
To be honest, I have spent the first 6 weeks of school wondering why I keep going. I could quit and be a grandma full time. That sounds much more rewarding than struggling as a music teacher.
Things are getting better. Last week a student gave me a picture they drew of me. There were several details in that picture that made me smile.
The first thing is the eyelashes. When I started recording lessons last Spring for the students at home, I realized my eyes always looked half closed. I decided to start wearing eye make up to help me look awake. This student noticed!
Then there are the earrings. I usually wear large, dangling earrings. I read somewhere that they make you look 10 pounds lighter. That helps with the COVID 20 I have gained.
I am particularly happy that she drew the earrings as music notes. Not all my earrings are music notes.
When the face mask mandate went into effect, I was frustrated that I could not smile at people. Smiling is very important. I borrowed a button maker and made a button:
I wear my name badge in a pouch around my neck. In the pouch I keep all my necessities – my office key, a tuning fork, an Allen wrench, the USB drive with all my music information and sometimes a peppermint. The button is on the cord holding my name pouch. This student included that detail.
Things have been hard. They may never return to the way they were before. However, when I look through the eyes of a child, especially this one, I know it will be OK.
This is where we find our Buster most days. Sitting and staring out the back door.
Not wanting to go out. Just looking out all lost like.
That’s how I find myself some days in this pandemic world. Not motivated to do anything though there’s plenty to do.
I feel like I’m Alexander in Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
Only this hasn’t been just one bad day. These Alexander days just keep on coming… piling on top of one another.
Like Alexander, I must decide what to do with these terrible, horrible, no good, very bad COVID-19 pandemic 2020 days.
I can grump and gripe and complain. Be immobilized like Buster in the kitchen door.
Science writer, Tara Haelle says my feelings are okay in a Medium article I read recently. 2020 has depleted our surge capacity for handling disasters by piling on endless calamities with no breaks.
“We can kick and scream and be angry, or we can feel the other side of it, with no motivation, difficulty focusing, lethargy… or we can take the middle way and just have a couple days where you feel like doing nothing and you embrace the losses and sadness you’re feeling right now, and then the next day, do something that has an element of achievement to it.”
Read all Halle’s suggestions for recharging our surge capacity in the Medium article here.
Another choice… Alexander fixes his bad day when he alters his attitude in the Viorst book. I can alter my attitude.
BTW, if you haven’t read Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, you should. It’s available on Amazon or any online book store. It’s a delightful children’s book that will warm your adult heart during this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year we’re having.
Our Buster embraces both solutions. He sits for awhile then gives a celebratory woof or a take-that-world bark and settles next to the chair where I’m writing. His safe place.
The house on one side of us is owned by a couple in the next town who purchased it as rental property when their daughter was here. She has since married and moved to Scotland. The house has had a variety of renters. I always try to introduce myself and encourage them to let us know if the noise from Miller Farm is bothersome.
Right now, the couple who lives there have a dog. I am extra sure to meet any dogs that move in nearby.
This is a Great Dane named Connor. He is an older dog which is good because a younger Great Dane might come over the fence to play.
Max thinks that would be fun. Since Max is afraid of the chickens when they are on the same side of the fence as he is, I am pretty sure he would run from Connor.
It is nice to have good neighbors. Especially when there is a fence between us.
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