Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Halloween has always been one of my most enjoyable holidays. Right up there with Christmas and my birthday. Dressing up in a silly costume, carving pumpkins and collecting candy – what more could a kid want?

I lapped it all up as a kid, distanced myself as a self-conscious teenager, embraced it as a drinking opportunity as a college student and then finally re-embraced the holiday in my late 20s.

In Chicago (and later in Wheaton) we developed a beloved Halloween tradition. (At least I loved it. Peter liked it or tolerated it, depending on his mood at the time.) The centrepiece of Halloween at our house was a trip to a pumpkin farm about 40 miles outside Chicago. A long way to drive, but not so bad when you consider the perks:

  • The opportunity to pick your own pumpkins off the vines, out in the fields, not from a stack on the lawn or in a bin.
  • A café that served warm apple cider and the stupidly good apple doughnuts.
  • A tractor-drawn hay ride.
  • A petting farm.

I marked Pumpkin Day on my personal calendar every year and longed for the lazy Sunday afternoon that we spent in search of the perfect pumpkin. I also enjoyed the evenings we spent carving the pumpkins, using stencil kits mostly although I always carved at least one “off plan” pumpkin. Peter’s pumpkin always looked awesome and mine always looked like it had been done by a young child with a drinking problem.

Halloween in Ireland was a bit of a disappointment. The best thing I can say about it is that it’s a public holiday, so I didn’t have to go to work. I have complained so bitterly about the pumpkin selection that I am surprised Peter has not placed a sticker for Honey Hill Orchards on my forehead and taken me to the post office to ship me back to my spiritual home. The pumpkins here are disappointingly small. Last year, my pumpkin from Honey Hill weighed a little over 40 pounds. In Ireland, I would probably have to buy 3 pumpkins to make that weight. I’ve been telling everyone who will listen (a dwindling number, I assure you) that next year I am going to get a set-up that would make a pot head weep and grow my own damn pumpkins, nourishing them with top-of-the-line fertilizer and enormous grow-lights.

Kids dressing up for trick or treating happens, but it is localised to neighbourhoods that have kids and ours doesn’t. I saw 2 kids dressed for Halloween – a little pink fairy princess (and fairy as in with wings not as in fairy tale) and what could only be described as an Irish dancing witch.

In Ireland, Halloween is just an excuse to set off fireworks. And apparently, you have to practice a lot to make sure you’re in good form for the big night. The neighborhood kids and rascals have been setting off fireworks for three or four weeks and everyone told me about how much worse it would get on the actual night.

I didn’t believe them, didn’t figure it would be worse than the Fourth of July, but I was wrong. From dark onwards yesterday, I don’t think there was a second that I didn’t hear explosions. I was promised Beirut and Baghdad and it certainly sounds like it. Even with the windows closed, you could still hear the screech, whiz and boom of the fireworks.

I don’t really get homesick, but this weekend was a little rough. I miss having a house. I miss Superdog and Zorro, I miss Honey Hill Orchard. I miss our routines and traditions.

Sure, this is the opportunity to make new traditions I’ve shown that I’m nothing but willing to jump into the unknown with both feet. But, before I jump, I like to take a second and stick a toe in the water and think about how things used to be.


At 5 November 2005 at 00:37, Blogger Career Guy said...

Oooo-who's that scary character next to the frightening pitchfork?

At 24 August 2007 at 02:48, Blogger Jack The Ripper said...

Hi just to let you know that your site is a googlewack. It's the only site containing the words exasperating sloitar


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