This will be the first President Juniper remembers. I am so dang happy that it will be a great one. Exactly three of the ink bubbles I filled out on Tuesday came to pass: The President, and two local school board members (oh--and one odd-ball state amendment). Forgive me, but I'm really giddy about the first, and I have specific plans for the other two. If your politics are different than mine (and if you live in Wyoming there is a 69% chance they are), I'm sorry. But clearly we must share a passion to improve the future. Keep the conversation rolling.
^Juniper: "Daddy, did you see any elk?"^
:: So, remember last winter when Juniper was obsessed with "the bears at the grocery store" because she believed they made the thunder and rain in the produce isle? And how her bear obsession turned to fear after our trip to Appalachia when the bear bit our car? Well, Juniper's love-hate relationship with bears continues to grow. Lately, when my husband tucks her into bed, he has to clap five times and shout, "GO AWAY BEARS!" And then, because my oldest girl wants to protect me and Hazel too, she makes him stand by our door (while I'm nursing Hazel down), clap five times and shout, "GO AWAY BEARS! LEAVE MAMA AND HAZEL ALONE!" Is it any surprise she wanted to be a bear?
A "friendly, baby black bear" to be specific.
Seasonal celebrations, family holiday traditions...these are the things I have most looked forward to honoring with my children. I know, I know, "family holiday tradition" is a lexicon normally associated with Christmas and Easter, but I am determined to find ways to make all our holidays filled with love, meaning and seasonal awareness. Our trip to the pumpkin patch brought home the harvest season's bounty. Our kitchen has been steaming with many batches of squash soup. Funky, farmer's market gourds decorate our autumn table.
^Top right pumpkin was J bug's design. Bottom right pumpkin is two-toothed Hazel.^
I have been anxiously awaiting the day when Juniper would have her own opinions about her Halloween costume. And this year, we began what I hope will become a long-held family tradition of costume-making together. Even my man helped design and cut-out the claws.
^Hazel-basil was just a thrift-store Eeyore special. All I wanted for her was a different costume than Juniper had at that age so I could tell them apart in photos (lame?). Still, she was damn cute.^
The whole candy bit I could do without, but really, it's unavoidable. With Halloween, I want it to be about the journey--our journey of imagination, creativity and crafting together. But--to answer your question--hell yes, the girl loves her candy.
^Juniper on her first preschool field trip (they were passing out candy--a lesson in giving--to some local businesses). She's so little! The youngest in her class. She's had some extreme (for her) separation anxiety at preschool drop-off, but the day she found out she'd get to go on "the wheels on the bus", she left me in the dust and never looked back.^
Our little town does "trunk-or-treat" in the market parking lot. At first, I thought this was a bastardization of an American tradition. So what the hell, we're teaching kids to take candy from mask-wearing strangers in their cars?? But actually, it was kind of cool. The whole community is out all at once, like a street party. That said, from Juniper's perspective, it was a whole bunch of freaking-looking people swarming our town. She didn't want to trick-or-treat and when we did finally cajole her away from our car, she held her pumpkin steadfastly to her head where no one, and I mean no one, would succeed in giving her candy. (Towards the end, when the freaky-people were clearing out, she was finally ready to "get some treats".)
:: I have been wanting to incorporate this holiday into my life for years...actually since 2001 when I first read Barbara Kingsolver's novel, Animal Dreams, which features a brief, albeit important, scene of townspeople celebrating Dias de los Muertos. Now that Juniper is three and beginning to build on a memory that will last a lifetime, I decided this was the year for our first family Day of the Dead. Celebrating this popular Mexican holiday is the only way I could think of to imbue Halloween with true meaning. When I told my husband my intentions he said, "So, are we going to like, have a seance and break out the ouija board?"
Eventually, maybe next year, we'll have an alter with photos of our lost loved ones. But this year, all we did was make pan de los muertos (which actually turned out horrible due to a typo in the recipe) and talk about, celebrate, and honor the family members who have informed our lives but are now gone. My husband celebrated a young cousin, two grandparents and a handful of dogs. For me, I honored my step-dad, an uncle, all of my grandparents and a few dogs (can't forget the dogs). Family and friends be warned: if you die, we will unabashedly talk about you every year, two days after Halloween. (Full disclosure: In the middle of cooking the dinner feast, our refrigerator died...turning our new family tradition into "Day of the Dead Refrigerator". Maybe next year we'll get a new range.)
^She's wearing it inside out, but my step-mom made Juniper a Day of the Dead skirt and vest. Bright colors and flowers will take the scary out of any skeleton.^
Three cheers to the next four years!