Even with the cancellation of Christmas, I’ve always been sort of a childish freak about the holidays. I’m the person you see jumping up and down and clapping like a goddamed monkey as they put up the displays of holiday wares in August.

I cannot wait for the stores to start playing Christmas music and as far as I’m concerned, they can skip back-to-school stuff entirely and stock Christmas and Halloween stuff year round. I’d keep the house decorated all year long if it didn’t piss off my neighbors and make me look like more of a freak than my electric yellow house already makes me.

(deep breath. You DON’T buy a house for the color of the siding. Yellow is cheerful. It is unique. It is ass ugly. It is cheerful. It blinds me on a sunny day. It is unique. I loathe love the color of my house.)

And I’ll admit, part of the allure of squeezing an 8 pound bowling ball from my cootch was the hope that one day, I could live out all of my holiday fantasies through my child.

But my first child, well, he does love the holidays…sort of. I mean, Ben has a lust for life that even Iggy Pop couldn’t rival. He loves the holidays, he loves Tuesdays, and he loves, well, everything except for bedtimes (which have convinced him that I am a communist dictator from HELL) and scooping cat poo from the litter boxes.

At age 8, his love of the holidays is only now being cultivated. At age 2, he was the oddest person I’d had the pleasure of knowing.

Conversely, at age 2, his younger brother has such a feverish love of the holidays that I wonder if I simply grew him on my body like a pod and shed him like a second skin. Were it not for his nearly translucent skin, which is eerily like his father’s, he would be my clone in every single way.

Daily, he begs to go to the greenhouse so that he may look at the pumpkins and the huge decorative gazing balls there (please, o! please make the jokes that I cannot make because they would be o! so inappropriate) and the trickies (fountains) and flowers.

Carefully, he selects the smallest pie pumpkin and brings it over to where the Christmas balls hang off of a fake Christmas tree and he carefully shows each of the balls his treasure: a pumpkin.

Neatly, sweetly he has personified both the pumpkin and the ball as beings rather than inanimate objects, in the same way he has to bid goodnight to “Venus” and “Mars-Gots-Moons” and my personal favorite “Purple Ball.”

“Blankie” is so much more to him than a piss-stained, ugly white blanket. It’s his best friend and playmate, his lovey, and his bedmate, one that I have to wrastle away from him many times each week for a bath in bleach, always amid tears and heartache. On his end, not mine.

It shocks me that this rough and tumble creature, this all-testosterone fueled boy could be so soft and gentle too. These days, this is one of the things–along with this blog–that keep me going.

I realize that I’ve been living in a fog: between the Topamax and the headaches, my wonky thyroid, the insomnia and the postpartum depression, I haven’t been myself lately. I put one foot carefully in front of the other, never faltering, because I have too much depending on my anymore to really falter without my house falling apart around me.

But seeing my son, a pint sized see-through version of me, all of the best parts of who I am coming to light, exuberant and alive, relishing the small things: the string of pumpkin lights I have hanging over my mantle that he dances in front of every morning.

His body wriggling with unabashed joy, barely containing his glee at what a genuinely wonderful world we live in, moving to music that only he can hear and I smile, the tears close. Tears of pride, of happiness and of joy.

And I know that I will be okay. Soon, the music that I’ve always danced to will start back up, because if I listen closely craning my ears, I can start to make out the sounds, way in the background, underneath all of the noise and dirt.

I am hopeful. I have hope.

The toddler, he trips over his own feet, looks around, bewildered by gravity and then gets back up, taking off running again after looking around warily to see if that wily gravity is going to punch him again, he knows that this is the way things are.

We all fall down. We all get back up again.

Alex as a Hedgehog

132 thoughts on “They Call Him The King Of The Pumpkins

  1. One of the reasons I had a kid was so I could go to Disney and Pixar movies without looking like a weirdo.

    I’m glad you have hope, and that your son helps you see that. He sounds amazing.

  2. Wow. My 12 year old still sleeps with Loney, the blue rabbit I got him one Easter many years ago (4?) The 10 year old lines all of his up every night. And, he still wants to get more.

    I love love love this post.

    And, one day, you’ll wake up and realize that yes, the sun in fact did come up again….just be in the dark, until you aren’t any more.

  3. Decorative ball-gazing is one of my favorite sports. I like the competitive Speedo plum-smuggling contest best.

    P.S. You made me cry again, dammit. Your next post needs to be about farts and B.O. or something.

        1. @Coco I had one, once that bothered me. She was a friend, on my blogroll and all that who went off on me about something that I didn’t even believe. Chewed me a new poohole and that, I admit, really upset me.

          She got me all wrong and that bugged me. Fucking bitch.

  4. Ben is my little brother from another mother! I still dance around my holiday lights and decorations, just like I did as a wee lass. Of course, I act like a child 90% of the time.

    Come for a visit, my dear, and I’ll help you get your happy groove back!!!!

  5. Uh, I meant Alex. I got so excited thinking about dancing around my Halloween lights that I forgot who you were talking about. Oh, well, I smell…

  6. That is so beautiful. Hurray for happy holiday kids! I’m worried my daughter may tend to run away from holidays like her father.

    Only time will tell!

  7. It’s this stuff that reminds us why we had kids in the first place. Because if life were full of nothing but the horrible, hide in bed all day, Cafe-Mocha-Vodka-Valium-Latte to go moments, the human race would die out quickly.

    1. @Sara Watching them become who they are is so awe-inspiring. They fill me with wonder and joy every day. That is, when I don’t want to tear my hear out or hide my head in the fridge.

  8. My Mea-Mea loves the holidays, too. There is nothing like seeing the excitement of Halloween, Christmas, and Easter on her little face. She has been talking about when Santa comes to her house since last Christmas, at least weekly. Everytime we go to the mall, she wants to know if she can sit on Santa’s lap. Her excitement, just makes me so happy. She has a picture torn out from a catalog of a doll house that “Santa’s making for me.” We have been taking this ad around with us everywhere.

    When Mack was her age, I was managing a retail store, and I missed alot of these priceless, exciting moments. I’m so glad that I get to see it all again, and take some time to enjoy it. Having a little one in the house again during the holidays is making all of us really look forward to them.

    1. @Kelly It’s made The Daver, who didn’t care about holidays at all, a firm lover of all things holiday. That’s huge. He wasn’t like Grinchly, but he certainly wasn’t as likely to stand in the cold, putting up lights for his kids like he does now.

  9. Bah-effin-Humbug. I have a gigantic yuck for Halloween…and it lasts all the way to St. Patty’s day. I don’t like holidays .

    And I miss your psychedelic swirly old layout.

    BUT…the Scooby costume rules!!

  10. Pingback: They Call Him The King Of The Pumpkins | DEEP PURPLE
  11. Perhaps you pod-birthed my darling Boo also. They are SO alike, when you’re talking about him I SWEAR you really mean her.

    What an amazing entry. Made my day. xoxo

    1. @Jenn It’s funny, Boo and Alex have been peas in a pod since birth. Which is weird because they’re both really unique people. Hm. I think you and I must REALLY be more alike than one might guess.

  12. oh such a cutie. Is that a hedgehog costume?

    As I wa pulling out the fall decorations Henry looked at them ans said to me the other night, ‘Is Santa coming tonight?’

    It was darling.

  13. Ok, such a cute picture….and I was nearly breathless at the end of the post. That is wonderfully, wonderfully written….
    Wait, was that sleigh bells I heard? Or Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin?
    (I was always so heartbroken for Linus when the Great Pumpkin never came….)

  14. I put my magic wand in the mail. Guaranteed to banish headaches, wonky thyroids, and insomnia. Ok, this is a pack of lies, but I feel so bad for you… Hang in there! I think what you really need now is a new husband – I mean TV husband (The Daver rocks).

    Just name him and I will set up the blind date sister!

    1. @Lisa I thought that Dexter might be my TV husband of the season, but he’s too serial killer-y for me. Not my style, you know? So, I think I need to find a new TV husband. And maybe a wife.

  15. This year I am way more excited about the holidays than I have been in a long, long, long time. I guess it’s because soon I’ll have someone to share that magic and wonder with. I still believe in Santa Claus. And I’m glad that my baby girl will be born early enough next year that by the time her first Halloween and Christmas roll around, she’ll be aware. And hopefully full of wonder and joy the way your Alex is. (By the way I had a dream last night that I shaved my head. I blame you.)

    1. @Manda Having a child to share it with makes it just magical. Your daughter will adore the lights next year and she’ll make it so special for you. Seeing it all through her eyes will make it a zillion times better than it ever was for you.

  16. That was beautiful! And he’s adorable!

    And yah, I’m one of those holiday-loving freaks too. (Fortunately, I married someone who is almost as freakishly happy about the holidays and decorating for them as I am.)

  17. awwwww, he is so danged cute. i love, love, love the enthusiasm of kids that age. I am a holiday freak too, but seeing the kids (especially alex) be so excited about it is the BEST!

  18. Hope is KEY. Don’t let it go.

    I don’t know how you do it… one of the best things about my blog is when I feel like crap and can’t think I get on there and write rambling nonsense anyway can always just flake out for awhile. YOU however… you come here and make the rest of us laugh, even wading through air with the consistency of jello. And no wonder with such a sweet little ball of energy and holiday enthusiasm to guide you along!

    I love how the testosterone only seems to intensify their adoration for the squishy lovey/buddy/cuddly things, rather than take away from it. Little boys rule.

  19. Oh, that is so sweet, you made me cry again (the PMS and red wine may have a little something to do with it, too) Anywayyyyyyy, my crotch parasite is gonna be 10 next week. He doesn’t say a lot of cute things anymore (I am so going to call fountains trickies from now on!), but he still sleeps with the tiny Teddy that we put in his incubator when he was less than 3 lbs. You made me remember how special he is, when I am stressing about how he will transport about 30 sprinkle covered cuppy cakes from the daycare to his 4th grade classroom next Wednesday — not to mention baking them with a full time job and homework and a big-ass 4th grade science project to do. Well this is wayyyy long, but thanks for reminding me of the JOY, Aunt Becky!!!

  20. “I am hopeful. I have hope.”

    Then you, my gorgeous Aunt Bec, really will be ok. I quote a french proverb which seems fitting here…

    Hope is the dream of a soul awake.

  21. That’s a beautiful boy. Time moves so fast during the baby years. It’s a fabulous thing to experience their joy. It definitely keeps you going.

  22. I think we all need an occasional reminder to pay attention to the small, wonderful things – thank you for the reminder. I love the holidays with total, unabashed, nutso enthusiasm (the size of our Christmas tree is a badge of honour for me – and it has achieved legendary proportions in past years, I’m proud to report), and having a kid only multiplied that. Now my husband and I look forward to decorating, presents, visits and all that stuff, for her, because it means something new to us now, as a family. It’s hard not to be touched when you see these things through their eyes. It’s so easy to be cynical about everything that it’s almost refreshing to just sit back and be joyful and grateful for small things, especially when other things kind suck.

    Huge balls and trickies? Sounds like one of my dates.

  23. You’ll get up again. Life is full of moments and some of them suck and some of them don’t. But they all pass. That’s what I try to remind myself during super horrible postpartum moments. Hang in there!

    Hoildays are AWESEOME!! (minus the family drama). November 1st is when I start to flirt with listening to Christmas music. My daughter also loves to look at the Christmas decorations at Target. Ah, she is my kid for sure!

  24. My 18 year old still has her blankie, washes it weekly (amazed it has held up all these years, homemade, I guess, made the difference) and takes it with her whenever she packs, even on her senior cruise. Love your writing…love Christmas too…keep it up!

  25. I hope the music gets louder and clearer. Depression, of any sort for any amount of time is a real pain in the ass. And other places.
    If I lived closer I’d come and hang with you and watch the twinkly lights and and marvel at all the balls, b/c balls should be marveled at, all kinds.

  26. There are some days that the ONLY reason I get up in the morning is because my daughter would be worried about me and she needs me. It isn’t long before she makes me smile or laugh and that’s what gets me through the rest of the day. With kids, everyday has just a touch of holiday.

  27. Ok, this is so unfair because i have been bursting into tears all week long, over everything- even a shampoo commercial- leave me along, I’m all pregnant and stuff…and now a blog post…thanks…from the crying knocked up lady

  28. We all want a little carbon copy of ourselves in at least one of the crotch parasites don’t we? I’m glad that Alex shares that love with you. And yes, you will hear that music again. Keep Listening. It starts soft and gets louder.

  29. When we moved into our house in the burbs of St Louis, it was painted peach. Peach like Florida peach. The previous owners, actually left us the paint in case we wanted to touch up. About a year after we moved in, we had the house sided. Our neighbors would actually slow down their cars as they drove by and clap and honk their horn. They were soo happy to be rid of the peach monstrosity on their block!

    As for the headaches, I have had chronic debilitating headaches for over a year. My neurologist finally found a medication that works and although I am not headache free they are greatly decreased. It wasn’t until I got relief that I realized what a bitch I had turned into due to being in pain constantly. I hope you are getting some relief and that the side effects are subsiding.

    1. @Clair *applauds* your comment has me laughing because the inside of my house is painted no more lovely than the outside. I can imagine people honking.

      I’m so glad you’re finally getting relief. The Topamax is helping me…a little. Not a ton, but it’s helping. The Vicodin is helping too. One day at a time.

  30. oh Aunt Becky. your wonderful words once again have me in stitches. And Then! I read the article about your little boys Blankie! My little boy (now 8) has a Blankie too! it too is his best friend and playmate I have had to give many kisses goodnight and even had to strap him into a carseat! He too is a disgusting mix of gray and tan in what once was cute and white and blue and had Blue’s Clues characters all over it. He has been stitched and bleached and even requilted. Parts of him have been to Iraq and back. You notice I refer to Blankie as a HIM because to my little boy that is exactly what he is, a person, his best friend. Well he used to be. So no Aunt Becky I am off to mourn the loss of Blankie, more for me than my baby boy, I think I might miss it more than he will but he will forever be folded up so nice with all his other leftovers from a time that really wasn’t so long ago.

  31. My parents totally BUILT the big yellow house… with brown trim. What the heck were they thinking? I, myself, bought a duplex so I didn’t get to choose the colour. It’s supposed to be old white… it’s totally yellow.

  32. He is so seriously gorgeous- which I guess, since he’s your tiny clone, means you are too, right? You know that’s why we all love you- under the delightfully entertaining snark who goes right ahead and says what we all think is a girl whose enthusiasm for kitschy fun stuff (like godawfully ugly cell-phone covers (yes, seriously) and holiday fun) tells us she loves life.

    You know, when life isn’t kicking her in the balls. Because reading between the lines, Aunt Becky, I can see you’re not having a fun time right now- and it’s totally okay to own that AND hate it, too.

    Just keep your eye on the pumpkins- the orange kind and the little human ones- and remember there’s always light at the other end of the tunnel. In the meantime there are lots of Internet hugs coming your way from all manner of crazies you’ve never actually met, but who really, really do get what you’re feeling. Me included.

    1. @Claire I’m praying the light I’m seeing at the end of a tunnel isn’t just a low flying plane but actually a real light. I think it is. In the meantime, I’ll wrap myself in the comfort of all of your words and remember that everything passes eventually. I’m lucky to know so many lovely people.

      Thank you.

  33. And I also just discovered your 100 (allegedly) boring facts about yourself, and while I nodded at most of them, there were two in particular that made me wonder if we were, perhaps, separated at birth:

    1. Anthony Bourdain. Ohh, yes. You do know he, too, has a blog, right? It’s full of his snarky wit. Gosh I love him.

    2. Earwigs. Dude. NOBODY I know seems to understand my earwig problem, which leads me to ask WHAT is wrong with them? The friends and family, not the earwigs- I know what’s wrong with THEM. I can’t even bring myself to mash one of the little bastards, they freak me out that much. EWW.

    Apologies for hijacking your comments thread with randomness.

  34. Just reading your post, and all of the comments here, reminds me that I am not alone in my tiny personal struggle. Jack is worth it all, of course, and there are always those transcendent moments when my guilt over not feeling happier when I am lucky to have such a perfect little boy gets washed away and replaced by that magical feeling, hope, and I realize that it WILL be okay. And until it is, like you said, we just put one foot in front of the other. Just keeping steady is enough.

  35. In recent years I’ve realized that Halloween is by far my favorite holiday. No pressure to make appearances at family functions, no secrete resentments, this one is purely about having fun with my kids, which is what I spent my whole life looking forward to.

    I hope winter, always the hardest time for me, is the start of things getting better for you. Hope gets you through a whole lot.

  36. Oh Becky, you get me everytime. How I’ve craned my neck to find my music again, how many days a month migraines are my constant companion, how oh how I hate dealing with my thyroid issues brought on by having had half (and only half – why not take the whole damned thing while your in there?) of it removed, and omg the post partum depression (shouldn’t I be happy? why am I not happy?) and why can’t it still be classified as post-partum depression when your youngest child is nine?

    I get you – I too glean snippets of momentary joy from my children – just flashes of bright light amidst the otherwise grey of my day. But flashes of hope, nonetheless.


  37. Everyone else has already said what I was gonna say, except this: the first time we took the boys to Navy Pier (I think they were 4 and 8), Josh called the ferris wheel “the fairy tales wheel.” How cute is THAT?

    What kind of costume is Alex wearing in this picture?

  38. When I was in the midst of my grief, watching Zilla do his little boy thing always made me feel less lonely. Hearing him ask me “mommy can we go on a worm hunt?” brought me out of my funk, even for a few hours. Going on those walks and finding joy in worms was what saved me. It’s the “little” things that make us open our eyes. Even if it is only for a few hours. Hang in there, love. Soon, there will be MANY more moments of fog lifting joy.

    1. @Beautiful Mess That’s the beauty of children, isn’t it? They just don’t give a shit about what you’re going through? No, I mean that in a good way. Because we adults get so caught up in “stress” and “living in our heads” and all that stupid stuff that sometimes we forget what’s really important. Like worm hunts and pumpkins.

  39. What a beautiful post, Becky. He’s a gorgeous child, and a lucky one, to have you for a mom. This is what keeps me trying. And keeps me coming back here.

    I hope the music comes back soon, and you are dancing, like your sweet child.


  40. Big happy Halloween love! I wasn’t allowed to celebrate “Satan’s holiday” as a kid, so going trick-or-treating with Little Man is my favorite holiday activity all year.

    This year he’s finally talking (at 4) so it’s very cool to hear be excited about “pumpin” “ghotes” “‘cary” and “boo!”

  41. We do all get back up again. One way or another. And there are plenty of us out here to help you back up if you need.

    (and I’d say damn you for making me cry, but what you wrote about your son was… well, it was beautiful. I’m also struck by how often it’s our kids that help us through the messy times.)

  42. I like the new look here:) I have holiday fever! I have bought some gifts, The girls have new snow suits, hats, & gloves, and the last two posts on my blog are about my favorite time of year! I am a sicko!Bring on the turkey bitches!
    Love Tawnia

  43. oh my, aunt becky, i may be forced to pinch his gorgeous cute little turkey-lurkey face and give him the biggest smoocher ever because he is FREAKING adorable.

    kids that age.. they are just so real. there is no guile in them whatsoever. watching a kid just be is one of the most awesome things, ever. it makes my breath catch and my heart skip to watch my kids.

    we have Chri-mis Bear (think Christmas, but subtract the “st” sound), who belongs to my hurricane, and Mr. Meowgi, the Karate Kitty, who belongs to my princess. i keep track of these stuffies like they were also my children, because i cannot handle how devastated the little people get when their best friends go missing.

  44. Well, damnit, Aunt Becky, you’re gonna make me cry. That picture of Alex is adorable. Have you ever read the book Pumpkin Day, Pumpkin Night? I LOVE that book. It’s just some chinchy Scholastic book order 20-page paperback for kids… I got it at a used bookstore, I think… Anyway, I LOVE it. It really encapsulates all that’s good about fall and pumpkins and Halloween, and the writing is really great. It’s so simple and sweet; kinda makes me tear up. Anyway, your post reminded me of it. Highly recommended 🙂 http://www.amazon.com/Pumpkin-Day-Night-Anne-Rockwell/dp/0802786960

  45. I must admit, I too am enchanted by the holidays, especially Halloween as it’s a pagan holiday and I feel less persecuted on October 31st. My kid is 8 and still believes in Santa. Other kids have tried to tell her that he doesn’t exist and I tell her that those kids’ parents drink…what do you expect?

  46. I desperately wanted to text you the last time I drove home from your house (but refrained in the interest of road safety). There was a preview of the HORRENDOUS new Bob Dylan Christmas album that would have had you in tears (think of the children tears, or laughing your ass off tears? Debatable). Regardless, I totally thought of you. Here’s hoping the music comes back, and that when it does, it’s Johnny Cash Christmas instead of Dylan. Love you.

    P.S. In the meantime, maybe you’ll enjoy http://tv.yahoo.com/blog/glee-sneak-peek-rachel-and-finn-sing-no-air–674

  47. Kids are so worth all the heartache, sleepless nights, cold dinners, and expensive credit card bills. Although I miss certain aspects of my former self (my brain USED to work, I SWEAR!), my son brings an incredible amount of joy to my life, unlike I have ever known. He is growing into a little man — he imitates my husband constantly, making my heart swell to epic proportions — but his favorite place is still cuddling in mommy’s lap.

    Blessed, I tell you. Beyond belief.

  48. Christmas has been so much better since we had Landon. Even just driving up the street and talking about all the giant blow up yard art that doesn’t grace my yard, but we happily enjoy in other people’s yards.
    “Mom, it’s a chicken and a no-man”
    “Um, I think that’s a penguin.”
    “No, it a chicken.”
    I can’t wait for what this year brings.

  49. I so needed this today. I have not been able to put into words how I have been feeling lately – other then world crumbling around me – but this helps again to look at what is keeping me going. A lot of pressure for my little person, but what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

  50. I didn’t think it was possible, but I now love Alex even more than I did before. And you too, love.

    Keep your sense of humor, you’ll get through this rough patch.

  51. What a sweet entry…I too look forward to having kids so that I can reexperience all of the delicious holidays again. My husband thinks it’s too weird and expensive to decorate for holidays such as the 4th of July and Valentine’s day, let alone the big three (Easter, Halloween, and Christmas). A child will give me a valid reason. 🙂 Here’s to warm wishes of a cozy holiday season. I hope the candy corn, caramel apples, and sticky little hands help you find your joy again.

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