I’m planning already. October 25 is just over a month away. It’s our 4th Annual Family Pumpkin Carving Contest! We kicked off this new tradition in October 2004. We make a big effort in our family to get together several times a year. My mom and dad loved getting the family together especially when my sister and I started having kids.
There was a time though that I don’t think Debra and I understood the importance of these events. With so much going on around the holidays that the temptation was to look at our family times like just one more thing on the “to-do list”.
But when my little brother got sick our view on family get togethers shifted considerably. David was only 20 years old when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. It’s a fast spreading bone cancer. David battled Ewing’s for 10 years before God called him home to heal him. And just over 12 months before David left us, our Gramma passed away. Gramma was the only grandparent that had really taken time with Debra, David, and I and she left a huge empty place in our family. That year, none of us wanted to get together, but David insisted. And I’m so thankful he did. How were we to know that we had so little time left with him? Just one more Thanksgiving Day. One more Christmas Eve. One more Easter Sunday dinner.
In the two years right after David left, we had a difficult time getting everyone to commit to doing anything. The grief was suffocating and I think being around each other reminded us even more of our loss. But our amazing parents soon insisted that we start up our traditions. That’s what David and Gramma would want.
Once we started planning times to be together, our little family reconnected as strong or stronger than before. Our dinners and holidays took on a beautiful mixture of celebration and a deep gratitude for the time we were having with each other. We loved a little deeper, laughed a little harder and cried freely for the ones we missed so much.
So, in the Autumn of 2004 I thought up a new “thing” we could add to the family calendar. I called it an “Autumn Celebration”. The premiss was of course, to get everyone together, eat some great food, take some great family pictures. The menu was full of “Fall fair” food. There was Bar-B-Cue and everything that goes with it, caramel apples, cotton candy, huge oatmeal cookies, apple butterscotch crisp and apple pies to name a few things.
Everyone wore brilliant fall colors so the family picture would be in theme with the party. This would be the kick-off to our holiday season. (October through December is my definition of the holidays, I got that from Mom!)
But after the huge dinner I think someone got bored and before I knew exactly what was happening, my beautiful display of pumpkins on the front porch started disappearing. My sneaky family started pairing off outside with steak knives and the pumpkins and my “Autum Party” turned into a pumpkin carving smack down!
I’m in the process of planning the Autumn 2007 Party now, so I’ve been going back through my pictures to help me remember what I’ve done before and get ideas. The pictures also fill me with gratitude for the precious times I’ve shared with the ones I love the most. If you want to drop in, I’ll add Autumn 2005 Party pics in the next day or two! (You won’t believe at how we improved on our pumpkin carving…just wait till you see Autumn 2007!!!)