FOR EVERYONE, A PUMPKIN

Pumpkin Church

When you drop by my little site, please leave with an armful of bright orange pumpkin. Carry it, cradle it, hug it to your breast. It is yours to do with as you will. You can do no wrong as long as it brings you joy and makes you smile.

Carve it or cook it. Stand it on your doorposts with a painted scowl or a sunshiny smile. Celebrate the growth of the earth or the remembrance of the dead.

Dress your pumpkin as dreadful death. Or leave it naked to the elements. A pumpkin can be food for your body, a pie of total delight and a scent rising to heaven. May I share? Or it can be candy for all eyes, the richest color plucked from a season of rich colors.

Come to my place and take your pumpkin. Pumpkins, pumpkins for all the world. Pumpkins are waiting for you. You may pick the best or the least of the bounty I offer.

THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES

Halloween was always a special holiday for my group of friends. From the early 1970s, we held an annual Halloween party. Each year, we descended on a friend’s parent’s summer house in the Berkshires. The house was not huge, but we were young and found places to sleep, even if it was on the floor or a hammock on the porch.

In the dark, glowing Jack O Lanterns

Those were the days before DVDs or even videotape — long before big screen televisions — so we rented a projector, screen and a movie. The occasion called for a horror movie. We tended to the classics: Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman (poor Larry Talbot!). … but lacking that, any horror movie would do. It was the centerpiece of the weekend’s entertainment … in addition to the fun of getting together to see each other.

Devil Jones rubberThe last year we had the party in the mountains, just before most of us got married and settled down on Long Island,  the guys in charge of movie rental were late getting to it. All the familiar films were gone. So, in the spirit of trying something new, they rented “The Devil in Miss Jones.” It sounded like a horror movie to them. Devil? Halloween. Right?

Given the audience and its condition — drugs and alcohol flowed freely in those halcyon days of yore — the movie had predictable but hilarious (depending on what you find funny) results. I won’t go into lurid detail, but I think it was our absolutely best ever Halloween party. Subsequent parties were more elaborate, bigger, almost like virtual reality rides at theme parks … but the year we all watched “The Devil in Miss Jones” brought us closer in ways we would not forget. I certainly haven’t, especially since that party was when Garry and I grew really close. Now we are fused at the hip and share those special memories. Do you youngsters ever wonder what grandma and grandpa are giggling about over there on the recliner?

So you see? Things can turn out fine, even when they apparently go awry. Thank you Georgina Spelvin and Harry Reems. It was definitely one of your finer efforts.

HAPPY WHATEVER

75-PunkinsZS19-MAR-24 It’s not Halloween yet, but the posts are up on Facebook proclaiming that “Merry Christmas” is the only correct way to greet people during this season of fellowship and good cheer. To say “Happy Holidays” is anti Christmas. Anti Christian. Part of an international plot to destroy Christmas. What, you didn’t know that? Well, neither did I but I have been recently enlightened. I had to restrain myself from buying the book. It was on sale on (where else?) Facebook, called something like (I should have saved the link) “The Conspiracy (Plot?) to Eliminate (Eradicate?) Christmas.” Clearly there’s more to the story, but I leave it to others to fill in those blanks. Or not.

Happy Christmas, painted by Johansen Viggo

If ever an argument was perfectly designed to suck the joy out of the season, this is it. Sure, let’s make everyone feel self-conscious about wishing someone else a happy whatever. I’m pretty sure these are the same people who complain about excessive political correctness and/or the continued (obviously) anti-Christian separation of church and state. I never cease being amazed how some folks can hold completely contradictory opinions without noticing the irony, much less the illogic. But, as usual, I digress.

Call me insensitive, but I don’t see how a greeting as bland as Happy Holidays can be anti anything. It is neutral and inclusive. For those who haven’t noticed, there are a lot of holidays bundled into this short season. Christmas is just one of them so whatever you say in greeting is fine with me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the thought that counts.

Two red chairs Why in the world does it matter to anyone what holidays I celebrate or how I celebrate them? If I’m not preventing you from doing whatever you want to do in your own home, your own church, what is your problem? Celebrate Christmas. Deck the halls. Decorate trees. String lights. Dress up as Santa. Go caroling. Put a manger with baby Jesus on your front lawn. I’m not Christian, don’t want to be, but that doesn’t mean I’m against you.

But. Please don’t put your crèche in my yard or the middle of my town. There are plenty of churches in town. They put up lots of Christmas displays. If that’s not enough, sorry, but it’s my world too. I’m not anti Christian and I’m not persecuting you or anyone. I’m merely trying to enjoy the season. My way. I won’t be offended if you wish me a Merry Christmas. Feel free to wish me happy anything and I’ll be delighted to wish you a happy whatever in return.

96-SantaPops-12-9-12_121 I think every person of every faith or no faith is entitled to celebrate — or not celebrate — the season however they want. Stop prating how others are disrespecting your faith while you trample roughshod over theirs. A lot of Christians are an embarrassment to Jesus, who was a proper Rabbi and a good Jew.

So what’s it to you if I want to celebrate the Winter Solstice while you celebrate Christmas? Let’s have more parties, more festivals. More happiness. Be of good cheer. We don’t need more acrimony.

The holidays are coming like a freight train on a long downhill run, stopping for no one and nothing. It doesn’t matter to me how you express your joy in the season. Just be happy. For yourself. For all of us. Stop being petty and mean-spirited. Christianity isn’t the only or oldest faith. No one owns the franchise on holidays. Show some of that Christian spirit and love your neighbor. Or at least pretend.

And have a wonderful season! 96-ChristmasCommons-12-9-12_134