Monday, March 25, 2013

Pigeon's Celebrations: A Happy Halloween

Halloween came not long after Pigeon's birthday. This year, Pigeon could walk on his own to the door to greet the trick-or-treaters. Mother brought out a costume his Grandma had bought him a year before. He'll never keep it on, she thought, slipping it over his head. But she was wrong. Pigeon liked being a pirate, after all.

The doorbell rang and rang and the children kept coming. Pigeon smiled at each one, wondering at their dress. Mother and Father took him outside to watch the parade of ghosts and butterflies, princesses and cowboys. He tried to run after them, so Father took him for  a walk to join the fun. They came back with pink cheeks, noses running from the cold.

They'd carved pumpkins the night before. Pigeon had run his soft, warm fingers over the smooth, cool skin of a pumpkin that was almost as big as he was. He remembered these giant orange globes from his picture books. Now he understood how much fun they could be. Father got fancy with his pumpkin, fashioning a ghost opening a door. Mother carved a classic pumpkin moonshine. The smell of fresh-cut pumpkin flesh roasting over a candle reminded her of being small in her parents' house, cutting gap-toothed smiles into pumpkin faces with her own father and siblings, their dining table covered in newspaper. Sometimes her mother roasted the seeds and they'd eat them, salted and delicious, in the glow of the jack-o-lanterns.

For Mother, Halloween had never been about fright and mayhem. It was a celebration of autumn's best: crisp leaves crunching underfoot; breathing in cool air while the sun is still strong enough to warm your shoulders; hot spiced cider and the taste of pumpkin and clove; pie-baking season; kids traipsing through neighborhood, laughing, as if the world were a truly safe and happy place. She hoped Pigeon would see things this way. She hoped she could give him that kind of a world, even for just a few years.


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