Archives for posts with tag: traditions

My husband was a man, a big kid actually, who loved Halloween and everything about it.  Every fall, we drove out into the country, when it didn’t take so long to find the bare countryside, to look for the perfect pumpkins.  Everybody had to have their own, with his being the biggest one.  This was one of those holidays when I was along for the ride because I wasn’t good at making costumes and he was in charge of the carving and I just made popcorn balls and caramel apples and handed out the treats on the big night while he walked the streets with the kids and other fathers in the neighborhood.

We didn’t take as many photos in those days of film and flashbulbs, but I treasure the ones I have, especially now that my husband and son are both gone.  I’m pretty sure they have pumpkins in heaven however.  No doubt in my mind that they are getting ready for the big night in whatever afterlife they inhabit.  Scan 19Scan 16By the time our grandchildren were born, the pumpkin patch had expanded with animals and rides and photo ops galore.  Taking the grandkids to the patch was a way to keep my own kids’ memories alive and well.  So there are lots of pictures of these kids, now in high school, getting their pumpkins, just as their parents did.   Scan 19 86777-PH-5Oct2001-012 86777-PH-5Oct2001-017 Zac

86777-PH-9Oct2002-002And their parents take pictures that are part of the family tradition, the things that remind us of the best of times and hold us together in all times.   All my grandchildren are in middle school or high school now, except for the youngest, my son’s daughter.  He went to the patch with his nephews and niece when he was in college…Scan 19And took his own daughter for her first visit, his last before he died.  IMG_1476She gets to go back now, following family traditions, making her own.  DSC_0051They say that all we can really give our children are memories, and these are some of the best.  These days I look at my family and go back to look at the years that have done by way too quickly and I’m strengthened by the continuity of the traditions and the love I see in the photos.  The Pumpkin Patch is important in our family, but so are other traditions.  We can all make our own…and should.  IMG_5221

Every year on March 3, I make a birthday cake, German Chocolate cake made from scratch, for my husband.  It takes awhile and it’s not my favorite in the world, but it was his.  He died fifteen years ago this year.  We don’t spend a lot of time sitting around grieving, but we do remember and we laugh a lot.  I just make the cake and tell the kids it will be ready and they show up.

I met Alan when we were both 16, just before he turned 17, at a church dinner during our junior year in high school.  I was there with another boy and he told me I just had to meet this guy, he was so funny.  I was hoping to get to know another boy I liked, but that didn’t turn out to be so great.  Anyway, I remember this tall guy rushing through the room with some other boys, acting goofy.  I actually thought he was younger than me and that was that.  But, for some reason, I never forgot that moment I first saw him, it stuck in my head.  That summer, we met again at a church retreat where we spent a week on a small college campus.  This time, I did get to know him and really liked him.  He was tall, about 6’2″ at that time, and weighed about 220.  He was silly and fun to be around, liked to dance, and we could talk to each other.  I don’t know what we talked about but I wanted to see him again when we got back to Tulsa.

He had enlisted in the Navy Reserves and went to boot camp right after we got back.  I remember writing him for the two weeks he was gone.  We had a retreat reunion right after he got back and he had lost 30 or 40 pounds at boot camp and I remember riding on his shoulders in the lake at what was then Skyline Amusement Park, which had a small lake, roller coaster and other rides.  It’s now Post Oak Lodge in Jenks.  We hit a wall after that.  He wanted to go out with a friend of mine and I admit she was a little hotter than I was.  Finally, after many phone calls and conversations with my girl friends trying to figure this out, I asked him to a dance my social club was having.  We had our first date in September and danced and danced.  I’m not sure how I got him to ask me out again or who badgered him into it, but we really did start dating and that was the beginning.  We were seniors in high school, I was skinny and had braces on my teeth that came off right before the prom, he grew two more inches and was skinny with his ears sticking out and I was in the advanced classes and he wasn’t even close, but we filled each others gaps (a quote from Rocky).

We went to separate schools in the fall, he went to two years of active duty the next year while I stayed in school, and we wrote a ton of letters to each other.  Long distance calls were expensive and we didn’t have computers, cell phones, etc to communicate.  By my senior year in college, he was home and returned to school as a sophomore and we got married during our two week Christmas break.  I graduated and started teaching as a graduate assistant while he went to school, he started working for my father in the summers, we had our first daughter, and we finally came back to Tulsa for him to work full time for Daddy.  Three more children came along, and we lived our life together with a big fun family.

I can’t say what made us a couple.  He always made me laugh but he could be moody, my brooding Scotsman.  I always understood him though.  All those talks and letters for 4 1/2 years had given us a pretty good sense of each other.  We were always each other’s best friend, we shared the same values, we loved our family, we loved each other, and we laughed so much….so very, very much.  We would look at each other when we were the maddest and sometimes break out in laughter at the absurdity of it all.

We lost him way too early through cancer that attacked fast and furiously and took him right after he turned 53.  Life moved on for all of us, but we always take time to stop and remember.  As I bake his cake today, there will be a flood of memories, sweet, funny memories that surely sift into that cake.  I will always love my sweet guy.  Happy Birthday, Alan!

Karen & Alan

Halloween has become one of the biggest holidays of the year.  Back in my day, we dressed up in simple costumes (gypsy, ghost, hobo) or wore the cheap ones from the dime store with the funny mask, grabbed a pillow case and ran up and down the streets trick or treating.  My grandmother had candy corn in a dish through Thanksgiving – a sure sign it was fall.  After a certain age, we didn’t need our parents with us and ran for blocks, filling our case and coming home for another one. We had sacks of candy (full size bars), popcorn balls, and carmel apples hidden under our beds for weeks.  Nobody worried about poison from the neighbors and nobody worried about us getting grabbed off the streets.  Sometimes there would be a party with bobbing for apples, cider, popcorn and snacks.  I don’t remember ever seeing an adult in costume unless a rare one dressed up as a witch with a caldron of dry ice steaming at the door.

My, how it has changed!  By the time my kids were big enough to go out, there were more decorations than just the construction paper cut outs we made.  I dreaded the costumes since that really wasn’t one of my strengths, but we muddled through.  Occasionally there was a costume party with our friends.  In our neighborhood, the dads went out with the kids and you could see them in the streets laughing, drinking a beer, watching the kids run up and down while the moms opened the doors with treats, waving to all.  Then that first bit of aspirin was found in candy and people started having private parties and strangers started bringing their kids from the “unsafe” neighborhoods to the nicer ones for treats so we didn’t know who was at the door.  That was ok since treats were getting more expensive and I understood those parents wanting to give their kids a better experience with less worry.  I was sad when my mother started turning off her lights and pretending she wasn’t home for fear of the big kids who came to the door long after the trick or treating should have ended.  It was a new era and Halloween had gotten a little scarier.

By the time I opened my gift shop in 1992, the Halloween phenomenon was an explosion.  Decorations were getting pretty fancy and adult parties were the norm.  Costumes were more elaborate and the kids I had handed treats were not wanting to stop dressing up.  Parties in bars, parties at churches, parties in neighborhoods…Halloween was everywhere!  The candy companies got smart and learned the power of packaging with treat sizes and holiday themed wrappers.  Smart business!  What an array of treat choices we have today with the greatest danger being buying them too early and then having to get more when you realize you have eaten them all way before the holiday.

I still get a kick out of the kids coming to the door.  They’re always polite, sometimes shy, sometimes bold.  Great costumes. Their parents come right up to the door these days…hovering over the kids.  That part is a little sadder.  Some of the fun is gone for the kids…but, that’s just my opinion.  It’s still a great holiday and I love that it’s enjoyed by all ages!  Have a Happy Halloween, come by my house for treats, and be safe out there!Scan 6

Is there anything more American than college Game Day?  There’s something so unique and fun about the games…the band, the fans, the cheerleaders, the colors, the sounds…

Today, I did something different.  A friend and I drove to Stillwater in the morning.  The first amazing thing was that we found a free parking space – on campus about a block from the stadium.  Wow!  That was $20-$30 saved.  Then we walked all around the OSU campus, weaving through the tailgaters.  Tailgating has skyrocketed from a few people with coolers in the trunk of their cars in the parking lot to full fledged portable kitchens hauled to the tents staked out throughout the buildings and parking lots.  It’s the ultimate cookout, potluck dinner, picnic…an industry in itself to buy the team tents, chairs, coolers, games, flags.  How do they get cable in those tents to watch the game?

We walked to Eskimo Joe’s in time to walk in while part of the OSU Marching band was playing the Alma Mater, walked back to the Student Union, walked around, grabbed a hamburger in the Union and back in time to watch the OSU Walk as Pistol Pete, the band, cheerleaders and pom squad led the team through a fan-lined street to the stadium.  Awesome!  I got teary hearing the fight song in the flood of orange and black, sprinkled with fans costumed for Halloween and the game…perfect school colors for the holiday.  Once we got the team into the stadium, we made our way through the crowd going into the stadium, walked back to the car and drove home with no crowds, arriving in time to light a fire and watch the entire game on television with the feel of fall and the stadium sounds still fresh in our ears.  I love going to the actual games, but this was kind of fun.  We got all the vibes with no traffic.

And they won!  Good job, Cowboys!  Go Pokes!!!

OSU Band at Eskimo Joe's