The Great Pumpkin Love Story

This might just go down in the books as a story we tell for all Halloweens to come. 

Halloween morning, I woke up to find all of our pumpkins taken off our porch. Gosh dang it! I knew we'd been lucky all these years that they hadn't gone missing. The home I grew up in is situated on a steep road, and I remember falling asleep in October to the sound of  pumpkins bumping down the street with a mixture of hoots, hollers and YEAHS! from teenage boys. We learned early on to bring our pumpkins in at night. I'd gotten lazy here.  

It wasn't long before little girl was up and truly the first words out of her mouth from her bedroom were, "MOOOO-OM. It's time to carve PUMP-kins!"

I stood in her doorway. "Oh sweetie, some stinkers last night were having fun and took our pumpkins away. Isn't that silly?"

"For real?" she asked. And as soon as I started to nod, she bolted to the front door. I was guilty of snagging my camera as I chased after her so I could catch her reaction. This would be a fun memory someday.

As soon as she verified that every stair that had once held a pumpkin was empty, she turned to face me with her feet planted, her little hands in fists as she folded her arms. "But WHY?" she said.

I explained, snapping a picture, that I remember the time my mom had come into my room as a kid on November 1st to tell me the pumpkin I'd carved the night before was gone. It was just a silly thing teenagers like to do at Halloween time.

My plan now this morning was to run to the grocery store and buy at least one if not two more pumpkins so that our pumpkin carving tradition could continue, and I explained that to Grace. She followed me around the house a bit until the dam, that I didn't realize was about to break, did, and the tears came rolling down her cheeks. "But that was my pumpkin from the pumpkin patch!" She was now openly sobbing. My heart now throbbed with the understanding that this was perhaps the cruelest thing she had yet encountered in her five years. I snagged the opportunity to scoop her up and snuggle as she absorbed a harsh reality of this world. Sometimes our pumpkins get stolen off our porch at Halloween.  

I had her sit on my lap as I logged into Facebook and posted the picture of her reaction on the front porch along with the caption, "To the stinkers who stole our pumpkins off our front steps, I hope you have the image of the face of this little girl who woke up asking if we could carve pumpkins today etched in your memory for all time." I thought twice before sending it out there. I hoped people understood it was laced with humor, because otherwise it sounded pretty bitter. I just figured anyone who had ever had to relate the harsh realities of pumpkins and teenagers and Halloween to their little one would be able to relate and have a good laugh. At the risk of thinking too hard, I sent it off.

We started moving around the house getting ready for our day, but it wasn't long before my phone dinged with a message. "We have two pumpkins to spare! I can bring them to you," said my neighbor. Ding. "Come have little girl pick a pumpkin off our porch. My kids aren't planning on carving this year. She can't be sad today!" said another neighbor.

My heart tingled with warmth. I love my neighbors. And I mentally scratched going to the grocery store for pumpkins off my list. We put on some shoes and put little boy in the stroller and set off to gather the pumpkins on hold for us from neighbors. 

After arriving home and filling four of our steps with pumpkins, I saw a few Facebook notifications had come in since we'd left. I expected a few likes, and a couple of uncles asking what I expected leaving big fat tempting pumpkins on the porch all night. 

Instead, for almost every, "That's awful! I'm sorry!" there was an "If I lived closer, I would come put the rest of mine on your porch!"

"We have two left. Please come get them!"

"I have two! I will donate to the great pumpkin tragedy!"

And my favorite. "I will send one thousand pumpkins. Just please no more super sad faces!"

Little girl and I read through the comments together. When we finished, all on her own, the words, "So many people are so loving!" fell out of her mouth. 
I knew I needed to get back on Facebook and post the picture of our once-empty steps now full again, and let them know how much we appreciated the offers for pumpkins, because we were now taken care of. 
While our tragedy was so very, very minor, it reminded me of some of the ideas I have clung to in hard times in our world. Like the week after the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newton, Connecticut. This quote soothed my heart that felt like it had been scraped raw as over twenty families laid their kindergartners to rest. Speaking of when alarming events occurred in the world during his childhood, Mr. Rogers said: "My mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world."
And after the Boston Marathon bombings, it was mentioned how seconds after the bombing there were many people who ran toward the chaos. So much of the time the instigator of terror gets the attention, but if we were to open our eyes a little wider, we would see that our world is not as far gone as we think it is.  

I had meant the whole thing to be rather funny. But instead my friends and neighbors gave me the opportunity to discuss with my daughter an important principle she will at times have to cling to in today's world. As my mom posted on little girl's thumbs up picture at the top of this post, "For all that is bad, there is so much good! The negative gives opportunity to the positive!"
Later that morning we ran and grabbed some breakfast for fun because Daddy had the day off. And when we got back, there were two more pumpkins on our porch, bringing the total to seven. We carved more than we've ever carved before.
Hope you had a lovely Halloween.