Monday, October 29, 2012

The Pumpkin Patch Is No Cake Walk

By the time Halloween rolls around, my nephews will have been to the pumpkin patch approximately 7,435 times.  I'm no stranger to the pumpkin patch either.  I've been with them three times over the last couple of years.  I'm all full up on pumpkin patch fun, you guys.  I mean, they're all pretty much just a bunch of pumpkins, a couple of bouncy houses and some spider webs strung over some bales of hay.  The kids put their costumes on, bounce around and then go home with a pumpkin to carve.

Okay, I get why they like it.  I even get why the parents like it.  It's something to do with your kid that is seasonal and outside and wholesome.  It requires minimal effort on the part of the adult.  (You just have to stand there guarding their shoes while they bounce and occasionally yell, "Don't hit your brother!" at them.)

What's weird to me is how un-Halloweeny it seems.  I mean, when did this start?  When I was a kid, the only pumpkin patch I'd ever heard of was the one Linus sits in all night in It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  West Texas wasn't exactly known for its pumpkin production.  I figured pumpkin patches were just for other parts of the country.  You know, places with foliage that grew pumpkins instead of tumbleweeds.  I have no idea where our pumpkins came from but I'm assuming my mom got them at the grocery store when she was buying Capri-Suns.  I remember carving a face in the pumpkin and cooking the seeds.  I don't remember any bouncy houses.

Halloween to me meant the school carnival, where I'd participate in the cake walk over and over again until I got a chocolate bunt cake or something with sprinkles.  It meant walking through the scary haunted music room, crushing the "eyeballs" between my fingers to freak out the next kid who had to stick their hand in the bowl of grapes.  (I figured crushed eyeballs were scarier than regular eyeballs.)  Halloween meant putting on my costume once and walking around the neighborhood to get candy in my plastic jack-o-lantern.  It meant caramel squares and candy corn and tootsie rolls.

Now Halloween is more like a season instead of a night.  Six weeks full of pumpkin patches and carving contests and multiple nights of sporting your costume.  It means fancy candy bars instead of Pixy Stix.  And, I think that's pretty cool.  But, I feel like the scary has been taken out of Halloween a bit.  And, I wish for my nephews one spooky night instead of a month full of bouncy houses.   I wish they could wear their costumes to school.  I wish for them a cake walk or a costume contest or the experience of picking the Bit O' Honeys out of their Trick Or Treat stash.

Or maybe I'm just jealous and I wish all that stuff for me.  Maybe I wish I could throw some plastic vampire teeth in my mouth and run around the streets of Midland, Texas hiding behind my satin cape while nice ladies in pumpkin sweaters fill my jack-o-lantern with sugar and chemicals.  Maybe I'm the one who needs a cake walk instead of a bouncy house.

Maybe I just need some candy corn.

*photo by me at a freaking pumpkin patch.