Each day is growing darker a minute sooner. The leaves are changing and a chill has arrived, soon there will be a brief last gasp of summer. We always have those last few warm days here. It is the finale to our summer season.
Halloween is inching closer and children will dress in their costumes while walking door to door asking neighbors for ‘Tricks or Treats.’ There are never any tricks, only treats. There will be a planned journey to Kenova, West Virginia, and a visit to The Pumpkin House.
I’ve seen this house grow larger and larger with each passing year. I will stand in front of a musical wall of pumpkins, and snuggle close under my husband’s arm. The glow from each gourd will illuminate our faces. We will have favorite pumpkins. We always have a favorite. Inside of me will be a rising warmth, no matter the cold temperature. Because seeing such a sight is joy. The same emotion will arise as I watch a shy little boy hold his plastic pumpkin bucket out and grin from ear to ear because strangers gave him candy. He will eat a few pieces and run wild playing with every toy he owns. His sugar high will last a little over an hour. Then he will go to bed satisfied and happy.
Thanksgiving will come and our day will begin too early in the place it ended the night before, the kitchen. As a parade is passing on the television we will toast our champagne flutes filled with mimosas and topped with fresh cut strawberries. A small family will gather at our table and we will eat till our stomachs reach their maximum capacity. There will be turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, broccoli casserole, rolls, pumpkin pie, sweet tea, and beer. We will complain our bellies hurt. Around the 11 p.m. hour, we will always go back and raid the fridge for cold turkey leftovers. And we will have to take heartburn medicine because we ate too much. We will be thankful to have had the food on our table and family to sit in the normally empty chairs.
Then marks the hustle and bustle season. The last month is filled with bows, wrapping paper, and twinkling lights. We will dig the fake cashmere tree out the attic. The old tree has finally obtained the proper attic Christmas tree smell. My parents used to roll our tree down from the attic in a large plastic barrel, and it smelled the same as my tree does now… like Christmas. We will spend an entire Saturday afternoon fussing with lights and saying how much we hate putting lights on the tree. The lights are a pain and half of them don’t work. Then it will be done. For the next few weeks I will wake before everyone else and come down the old wooden stairs. I will make my coffee, like I do every morning, and I will sit in the dark and stare at the fake tree in amazement because the reflecting lights are beautiful in our dark living room. It will make me happy. Family will come over and we will eat, drink, and be merry. I will read my son ‘Twas the Night before Christmas’, and he will fall asleep waiting for reindeer, a sleigh, and a jolly old elf.
He will come down those same stairs the next morning with brighter eyes. He will smile and run towards a few new toys. My husband and I will sit and watch while occasionally passing satisfied parental smiles, and love glances. We will move into dining room where my son says there are socks hanging. But, this time the socks have candy and small gifts, and an orange. Always an orange, it’s a tradition. We will go to the grandparents’ house and wrapping paper will devour a living room. There will be another meal, and our stomachs will ache again. We will come home and finally open our presents in the late evening hours. The toddler will burn off the last of his excitement.
Finally, my little family will gather in front of the television for the last few moments in a year. Times Square will be packed wall to wall with people wearing glasses saying 2016. As we see the mass crowds packed into New York, I will watch the condensation escape from their lips, and know they are too excited to be cold. Then it begins. 10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1. A ball lands and I kiss the same man I’ve kissed for over a decade.
The next day, a feast is prepared. The same feast I’ve eaten every first day of each new year, corn beef and cabbage. My grandmother’s fifty cent piece is placed under the corn beef to bring us luck for the new year. My husband will complain the house stinks from cooked cabbage and he will not eat much because he doesn’t like corn beef and cabbage. I will say it’s a tradition and we have to eat it. My son will eat chicken.
When I think of the beautiful things in life, I think of these times. These little moments that happen each year. The places we visit and the people we call family.
These times are my something beautiful.