There was a sign over the massive Halloween candy display at Target yesterday: “Be the good house this year.” The message was clear: Buy the good candy. Buy lots of it. Be the trick-or-treaters’ favorite house on the block. You won’t be the house that hands out dog biscuits as a trick. You won’t be the one known for handing out glow sticks that invariably split and leak all over the kids’ costumes and into the washing machine. You won’t be the one who hands out the toothbrushes. You won’t even be the one known for handing out the crappy candy. No. This year you will be cool.
You’ll be the good house.
I almost fell for it.
I wanted to be The Good House this year; the house that all the kids talked about; the house that gave away those gigantic Hershey bars; that house that went all-out with its display. I took a step towards becoming The Good House. Reached out a hand to pick up the bags of candy that would make me Good.
“Wait a minute, Squints,” I said. “If we buy this candy we’ll eat it tonight while we watch the movie.” Not so good.
“No we won’t.” He grinned. “Come on, Mom.”
“Let’s go.” I could live another year without being the good house.
We wove past Halloween and wound up in December where a grinning scarecrow stood next to a glowing snowman and made our way to the checkout before they set out the swimsuits.
* * *
Pumpkin shopping has turned into a major pain in the neck. Used to be, when we lived in the country, we could just drive two minutes to the local orchard and pick one right out of the field. Here in suburbia, everything farm-related is turned into an Event. You don’t go to pick out pumpkins; you make a day of it, complete with wagon rides, pictures and videos, haunted houses and cider at the farm where hundreds of other people swarm over the field. If you are lucky enough to find a farm that doesn’t go for all those extras, you may not be able to actually enter the field due to liability issues. For years, we’ve gone to a local, out-the-way pumpkin patch grown by a boy for his college fund. But a few years ago, his patch failed. We had to look elsewhere.
“Maybe we’ll just pick up the pumpkins ourselves this year,” I told Squints, as we loaded the trunk with our Target bags. “Go in the middle of the day, on a weekday, so we miss the crowds.” Then I realized that this would be Filibuster’s last year for picking pumpkins with us. Next October, she’ll be at college. Starting now, every day will be a last day for something; Every event will be a last event. And then, she’ll be gone.
Ever since she was little, Filibuster has had to case the entire pumpkin patch and seek out the perfect pumpkin. It’s generally the largest and must be flawless. She’ll go here and there, looking at this one, considering that. And then, about a hundred miles from the car, she’ll find it: A forty pound beauty that her father has to lug to the trunk. “On second thought,” I told Squints, “we’ll go on a weekend.” I can’t miss my last year of watching Filibuster picking her pumpkin.
And so next August, when she leaves this messy house; a house with its share of arguments and stresses; a house where Destructo still steals socks from her bedroom and chews holes in them; a house where her brother irritates her with amazing regularity; a house where she gets teased and supported and lectured, I hope she thinks back to our house and recalls it with fondness as a good house.
I hope she remembers home.
Labels: Buying Locally, College, Daughters