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The fourth quarter is the best time of year. Not for the seasonal economic boost, as nice as that is, but because it’s the height of family traditions.
It’s a three-month run, starting early in October, when the tote of Halloween decorations is hauled out of the basement.
We hang ghosts in the dogwood and plant tombstones in the flower bed. This year, my older son and I used dead branches from that dogwood and a boatload of stretchy spider web to create spooky trees all around the front porch. We spent an entire afternoon building our “haunted forest,” and sprinkled the whole thing with plastic spiders.
The decorating is followed by an annual trip to the pumpkin patch, a tradition we started five years ago, when our older child was just 11 months old. That first time, he was a relatively new walker and staggered through a maze of impossibly tall pumpkins.
Each year, this well photographed family outing is a memory maker — happy kids running under an October sky. Last year, our younger son wore goggles for optimal corn maze navigation. This year, he was adamant about taking home the ugliest pumpkin ever to grow on a farm.
The pumpkin drop in Elizabethtown has become a tradition over the last few seasons, too. The kids don costumes and we meet up with neighbors to walk downtown together. This year, they sat in line on the curb with all the patience in the world, thrilled every time they managed to catch a flying pumpkin seed. Up they went, brave and eager. Down the pumpkins came, senseless but satisfying. We can’t wait for next year.
Next week, Halloween festivities wrap up with trick-or-treating. My children’s first costumes, one a sweet monkey jumpsuit and the other a sweet pea pod, have evolved to a ghost and a pirate. Though I miss choosing those baby costumes, I look forward to the boys trick-or-treating a little more independently. I prefer standing on the sidewalk to hover-walking to every door.
It’s quite the event on our street. Most neighbors — some in costume — set up on their porches and watch the families, many driving in from rural areas, rolling down the street like waves. We usually dole out more than 800 pieces of candy.
Some Saturday night not long after Hallloween, we’ll keep the chill away by sitting around a fire pit. We’ll look at the stars and we’ll make s’mores. And somehow, we’ll use four marshmallows, two graham crackers and an entire package — six bars — of chocolate.
But when the chocolate is gone and our faces are toasty, the boys will climb onto my lap, one on each leg, and rest their sleepy heads, one on each shoulder. For at least one more year, I’ll breathe the cool air in deep and try to burn to my memory the way it feels to hold them.
Sarah Berkshire can be reached at 270-505-1745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.