Pumpkins, Just so

Every year, as Halloween approaches, I decorate the house here and there so that there’s more orange than usual (I LOVE the color orange, everyone knows that!) sprinkled throughout each room. In addition to the short string of pumpkin orange lights that Scott willingly strung up on the front gate of our rental house, I’ve set out a couple of Halloween pillows (in the living room), a paper statue of a haunted house (sitting tall on the kitchen island), as well as orange candle sticks and black bat-shaped votive holders, which rest, just so, on the mantel in the dining room.

In the center of our dining room table, I have filled a medium sized white ceramic bowl with several mini pumpkins. It looks just right, resting as it does on the autumn colored table cloth or whatever runner I’ve chosen to dress the table with seasonal flair. (I am forced to switch out table cloths and runners frequently because of all the spills and food smears that appear, as if by magic, within hours of placing a new, freshly laundered cloth on the table.) Soon after I first mounted my pumpkin themed display in the first week of October, I noticed that some of the mini pumpkins had gone missing. Originally, there had been seven minis featured in the bowl, but suddenly there were only four. The grouping looked sparse, anything but bountiful and harvest-like, which was the look I had been trying to achieve. During house rounds, I found three little pumpkins lined in a row on the window sill in Charlie’s bedroom. “No, my son, these are part of MY seasonal decorations,” I thought. I took those minis and instantly put them back in the white bowl on the dining room table…where they belonged.

A couple of days later, I noted that all but one of the pumpkins were gone from the centerpiece bowl. I immediately checked to see if they were in Charlie’s bedroom. Indeed, six minis were lined up on the edge of his red bureau. Mumbling to myself, I gathered them all and returned them to the dining room, setting them just so, once again, within the bowl.

For the last few days, there have been many more “mini pumpkin exchanges.” Instead of sneaking the minis up to his room, however, Charlie has rearranged the pumpkins on the dining room table. Once, he placed a mini pumpkin at each table setting (leaving one, single and lonely, in the bowl). Another time, he placed five of the minis in a line along the back length of the table, two were positioned, just so, on the mantel. A day later, he had scattered some of the pumpkins on the two bookshelves on either side of the fireplace in the dining room; and set the others on the piano in the living room. That time, I noticed, the centerpiece bowl was quite empty.

Charlie and I have not spoken aloud of our “Pumpkin Game,” preferring, instead, to communicate with each other silently, like two clever chess players, intensely pitting strategy against strategy without ever needing to voice our intentions but rather conversing through the premeditated moves of each chess piece. I’ve never caught Charlie Boy in the act of transitioning the pumpkins, but I’m always keeping an eye out for (and, truth be told, looking forward to) his next stealthy pumpkin maneuver. This Pumpkin Game reminds me so much of my father, Pop Dick. It’s just the kind of humorous prank he would conjure to rock my little “just so” world.

Halloween is one of Charlie’s most favorite holidays. We usually have a Chili (aka, “Monster Stew”) Party with family and cousins. There’s wine and beer for the adults, candy for the kids. Charlie plans a menu of Halloween inspired main dishes (“Full Moon Howlers”), drinks (“Count Orlock Chocolate Shake”) and treats (“Creepy Crispy Cookies”). In between all the eating and drinking, the parents/grandparents take the kids out for multiple trick-or-treating treks in the neighborhood. This year, we’ll be away from our familiar Halloween scene, but Charlie is trying to make do and he’s begun planning a Halloween Night Party for some of his new friends and their parents here in Saratoga.

I have big plans, too, for the final “Gotcha” in the impromptu Pumpkin Game. Stay tuned. Of course, there will be pictures. I can assure you, my final pumpkin spoof is going to be mini-pumpkin-fantastic!


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