Archive for October, 2010

Happy Halloween… Memories

October 31, 2010

by Florence Ondré

Our front doorstep has a fat pumpkin greeting the world and little orange globes decorate our front window.  There are two big bags of mini candies waiting for the trick or treaters and the day is sunny and breezy.

We have the howling, screaming, eerie music on the radio for sound effects and, though we are both recovering from a whopping stint of bronchitis, we’re ready to forge forward into the holiday cheer to wrap toilet tissue around our heads and greet the ghosties and goblins and princesses and super heroes who come singing those magic October words, “Trick or Treat!”

There have been text messages and photos of friends and family in costume coming in from miles away.

Our friends, Lori and Steve, sent us a text photo of their grown son, Jamie, and his girlfriend in Salem. Massachusetts, where the town is completely decorated and the populations swells with costumed revelers.   Jamie loves this holiday!  One year he was enrobed as a wizened monk, complete with gnarled spindly hands; another a warrior, with shield, sword, helmet and battle kilt.  This year they are reminiscent of elegant Venetian Renaissance ghouls. Quite haughty in black and gold.

My niece, Stephanie, who is a sedate accountant from the East coast, sent a pic of herself in a short skirt, knee hosiery and a white blouse.  We thought, “Naughty Accountant?”

“No,” she texts, “School girl. Ha ha, I’m dressing up too. What are you going to be today?”

I have just awakened, have bed head in my ‘Pebbles topknot’ and have tied a sarong on to go sit and have my morning tea before the day revs up. My dear Tom pops his head in and, after seeing the two costume pics of the day so far, ventures a guess at mine.  “Naughty Samoan?” he asks.

“No,” I reply,wheezily and sneezily, “more like Snotty Samoan!”

Next, son, Chris and wife, Hope, send  text pics of 2 1/2 year old daughter, Selia; delicate in gorgeous, lacy wings of a lovely ladybug and their newest baby boy in his first costume, an orange pumpkin.

His name is Jack and he is beaming straight at the camera lifting his fluffy-haired head from his outdoor blanket and smiling like the happy camper he is. How can you not smile back at that cherubic face?

I think, “Ah, there’s the little ‘Oirish lad!  Sir Jack…O’ Lantern!”

…..And I remember another Jack.

His great grandfather.

My father, Jack, who loved this holiday with all its costumes and unmitigated revelry in silly and fun.

Letting myself remember our family gatherings when my sister and I were little like these two, I can see all the relatives dressed in homemade costumes, gathered around the table for a festive dinner; the table decked out with carved pumpkins and black cats and witches on brooms hung round the lintel of the dining room where Fiestaware in all its orange, green, blues and yellows sat looking down on us like large lemon and gum drops.  My comedian father is made up like a very stylish woman in cloche hat and patterned dress (his dark mustache the only give away) and my sweet, shy mother in blackface! (Forgive her, it was the fortys and Aunt Jemima still peered off the box from which she made our pancakes and the bottle which poured sweet syrup onto them.)  My aunt a hillbilly,  my uncle a photographer and my tween cousin, a hula girl in grass skirt complete with ukelele. My baby sister in a smock as an artist and I a hobo.  We bobbed for apples floating in a big galvanized wash tub and if you were lucky enough to actually snag one of the ruby orbs, it might have a penny, a nickel or a whole dime hidden within! What treasure!

There was always music and singing and games to play. Happiness filled the rooms and these memories make me smile all these years later as they rise to the surface of this Halloween.

I see once more where my roots for fun were seeded.  In my family, where times were often serious and hard; where there was little or barely enough to make ends meet, there was always laughter to more than balance tears and entertainment was created from gathering together, sharing a meal, playing musical chairs, pin the tail, card games, chinese checkers, word games and name that tune- en famile; along with singing and dancing (cutting a rug my mom, aunts and grandmas called it) and being way out goofy gained top billing.

Laughter threads through every memory and looking at photographs, I think we look like the happiest, luckiest family.

From the gift of this vantage point today, it doesn’t matter what challenges crossed our paths over the years. I see that is exactly what we were…..

A family lucky in laughter and love.

And I’m thankful to have been reminded of good times and grateful to have passed on that experience of  togetherness, dress up, creative play, games, giggles and guffaws…just plain old fun, to my own sons and now I get to watch them share that with their children…my  really grand  kids.

Can hardly wait to see what son, Ron’s, boys, Benny and Joey will be dressed up as -and, for that matter, how Ron and his wife, Christine will be costumed.  They jump in the fun each year too.

Just another holiday?

I think not.

The threads are all interwoven throughout the happy cells and family memories of good times.

Happy Halloween!

What are you dressed up as today?

Us?  We’re dressed up as fortunate and happy.

*(With thanks to Chris for giving gifts that unfolded into a cloth of many colored memories. See. A picture is worth a thousand words!

And can lead through a door to a thousand rememberings.)

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Quote For The Day

October 31, 2010

” The beauty of nature.  That’s what makes this planet bearable.”

Thomas B. Freeman (upon stepping outside on his front porch; seeing the sun glint off the wide wingspan of a majestic eagle,  through the nearby tall sparsely leafed Autumn trees, soaring on the currents uphill from Puget Sound.)

Day In Haiku

October 27, 2010

Ah! Autumn leaves fall

Golden, copper, crimson hue

I drop too, achoo!

Quote For The Day

October 27, 2010

“When the day has clobbered you from north, south, east, west; upside and down; over and under…

Save yourself:   STOP!”

florence ondré


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