porches + pillowfights | this is October

Temps while I write are still fighting the inevitable drop here in North Georgia, but a couple weekends back, we decided the time had come to start decorating for Halloween despite unseasonably high temps + humidity.

Yes- Halloween is just one day of the other 365, but for me it is + always has been an exciting time of year that calls to mind some of the very best memories from my childhood. The whole month of October is synonymous with Halloween + in part, here’s why:

Each October my mom’s family (she’s one of nine) would take a collective camping trip to a state park for usually what was a long weekend.  It started when they were kids camping with their parents.  We would all take turns inviting friends + friends’ families to tag along, but most of the memories came from the traditions established year after year with all the cousins:

  • The majority of my aunts, uncles + cousins would set up families of tents, with a select few always prefering to make camp in their tow-a-long, pop-up campers.
  • We would have at least one planned family meal, usually steaks + potatoes or frogmore stew on that Saturday evening.
  • It almost always “magically” fell on the first cool weekend of October
  • As a kid, I lived for the s’mores + ghost stories around the campfire at night…snipe hunting anyone?
  • I can still envision the way mom made breakfasts at our little kitchen encampment … she never skimped! We ate like royalty with hash browns, eggs, sausage, grits + corned beef hash all made just like we were at home, right there on the electric griddle! haha) I can still remembering my tongue would be numb most of the weekend from drinking hot cocoa around the clock and often before it had cooled.

The weekend has become particularly memorable on a couple of rare occasions:

  •  First, in 1995 when the Braves played in the World Series the same weekend as “The Family Camping Trip”, I recall watching the national anthem just before/after our Saturday night campsite dinner because everyone present stopped + paid respects during the national anthem.
  • Second, the couple of trips when it absolutely downpoured —seemingly all weekend— the first was our inaugural trip when we ended up sleeping in my aunt’s station wagon after our tent sprung a leak + the second, when I was a bit older + all the cousins my age ran from site to site chasing the water from the tops of the tarps down to the end, taking turns to have it dumped atop our heads… we made water slides for leaves + gumballs + imagined little fairy houses … the place became a water wonderland of sorts + the laughter that ensued was the best kind of simple fun!

These fall weekends quietly became the roots of my love for this season. Even before pumpkin-themed everything, actual cooler temperatures + changing leaves that pile up + go “crunch” in my own backyard, there were simple Halloween traditions:

  • Mom making me into a tiny witch by teasing my hair + painting on my mascara “witch wart” seemingly every single year of my childhood
  • my cousins coming over to trick-or-treat because everyone knows there’s strength in numbers on All Hallow’s Eve
  • the annual pizza party immediately prior to going door to door no matter what day of the week Halloween was on
  • my Uncle Larry’s house next door – who perhaps fostered my love for all things Halloween and most certainly for decorating early with his creepy Freddy Kreuger dummy that sat on his front stoop all month sometimes, only to come to life on many a spooky Hallow’s Eve—he would hide in the bushes or sit in place of the dummy all dressed up to catch trick or treaters unaware as they rang the doorbell.
  • the unspoken ritual of dumping our candy haul all over the floor just to spend what felt like hours sorting, trading + eating the loot—after parent inspection + approval, of course.

There are so many stories I could share from camping + Halloween, but as I have said, it’s in the repetition of the little things + consistent childhood memories that I found my favorite holiday.

Those roots have grown + begun to sprout my own holiday traditions now as I nurture my own family.  I hope to teach my girls what it is to watch the late summer rains give way to crisp autumn temps, October baseball (bonus now—in a baseball city), decorating a festive, spooky yet still inviting porch for trick-or-treaters + helping my daughters choose their own costumes.

So yes, I put pumpkins on my porch before October 1 + it still is my favorite time of year. In an unforseen twist, I am growing to like Thanksgiving a little more each year with some new traditions we have begun since having a little family of our own, but for now, Halloween will remain the most fun + therefore the most anticipated holiday in my mind.  It is the B E S T time of year afterall!

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