How can this be?
Well, one of my sons let me know that this year’s unusually rainy growing season caused many pumpkins to rot on the vine, decreasing supply and increasing price. (This was my 10 year old – freaky!)
You wouldn’t know there was a shortage of pumpkins if you drove through my neighborhood, though. It looks a bit like “Halloween Land” from Tim Burton’s Nightmare before Christmas. My neighbors don’t have “a” pumpkin on their front stoops — they have a Halloween Montage. It’s a bit like Martha Stewart’s test lab over here in my town.
A few months ago, one of the major financial periodicals named my town as the wealthiest town in the country. It’s a freak of nature that I should even be living here.
I’m from the other side of the tracks. Well, actually, I’m from two neighborhoods to the left of the other side of the tracks. My grandfather held two jobs – firefighter and butcher. My dad died young, but my mother was a self-made realtor and just retired after thirty something years of work. She has a high school education.
I’m the first person in my family to go to college. I was raised to go to college. That was it. So I’m a bit stupefied by all the money in my community. (I got here a couple of decades ago when we were still just a small suburb of DC.)
The other night, as we were driving through our neighborhood, I pointed out all the Halloween Land stuff to my husband. I told him that we only ever had one pumpkin on our stoop. He, of course, could trump my story. They never had any. My husband’s family was so poor, he didn’t even have his own bed until he was 18. He always shared a room with one of his uncles because my father-in-laws’ parents died young, so, as the eldest son, he took the rest of the family in. Because of this, my husband thinks the excess is about wealth.
But I suspect there’s another phenomenon in play.
Some years ago, when my children were young, I took a short research trip to finish my graduate thesis. My children’s father received something like 63 offers of help for the period I would be gone. The following month, he was on travel and I had pneumonia. Two people called to help me, and one of these was my mother.
I suspect the Halloween excess in our community isn’t just about wealth. I think it’s another way that we women put pressure on ourselves and each other to achieve “something more” year afer year after year. Each Holiday Season is iterative, so we have to “outdo” our family memories of the year prior. Ironically, we are doing more and more, but enjoying it less and less.
We can’t just carve one pumpkin and be done with it. We have to make a Halloween Vignette.
We have to display our creativity to our neighbors, we have to demonstrate our uber-momness. We have to show the world that we can work, and raise brilliant achieving kids, and have HGTV holiday front yards. And we want to give our kids the very best of everything, even if we kill ourselves in the process.
It’s crazy! It’s not sustainable. It’s exhausting. And it teaches our kids the wrong thing.
But we do it.
I do it, albeit on a scaled-back version of excess. And now I’m in a quandary. We don’t even have one pumpkin on our front stoop and tonight’s the Big Night.
I feel like such an underachiever. (So I’m compensating my making a Halloween-themed supper with “mummy” dogs and jello intestines and this and that and this and that and . . . .)
Photo: Flickr, sister72