I love Halloween – I always have – and can you blame me, it’s a holiday that promotes dressing up in costumes.
Two years ago, I was living in Vancouver for my masters thesis (the same thesis that I defend in a couple of weeks to give you some sense of how ridiculously long this process has taken). We were going to an annual Halloween party at our friends Aman’s and Nicole’s place. We got a phone call on Halloween itself from them letting us know that they were struggling to find pumpkins, so could we try and pick some up on our way over. We (and every other guest at that party) searched the Lower Mainland top to bottom for a pumpkin and we all came up empty handed. In the end my brother Craig saved the day: he noticed as we were arriving at the party that the coffee shop down the street had an uncarved pumpkin in their window. He marched down there and negotiated a deal – we could borrow their pumpkin for the night so that party would have a pumpkin to carve as long as we returned it to them first thing the next morning (at 6 am) so that they would have it for the children’s party they were hosting that day. It worked out really well – the party guests jointly carved a Where the Wild Things Are pumpkin which we were very proud of, and the coffee shop let us know that the kids loved it.
Now that we’re back in Whitehorse, the hosting of the Halloween party falls to Tyler and I – a role we take on this Saturday. Tyler and I are known for taking our parties very seriously. For example when we first started dating we were throwing an Easter party at Tyler’s and our friend Chris’ house. Tyler designed an Easter egg hunt that involved a weathered journal from a long dead explorer who had “discovered” Vancouver Island (at the time we were living in Victoria for our undergraduate degrees). We had to follow the journal and each time something was lost by the expedition there would be a bag of candy hidden nearby (this included losing a fellow expedition partner – that candy bag was buried several feet under the sand on the beach). You could take our wedding as another example – I acknowledge that all weddings are elaborate, but ours worked at being intensly playful, complete with Mad Lib save the date cards, hand designed Road Runner and Wyle E. Coyote stationary, Playmobile centerpieces representing different parts of our lives, and a Lego cake topper that was a to-scale model of Tyler’s 1981 Landcruiser. Over time our parties have become no less elaborate – for Tyler’s surprise birthday party last week we had cupcakes with dinosaur fossils, the room packed to the gills, and a treasure hunt for his presents (a series of new and used vinyl records) that involved a play list of indie songs on his iTunes – each song title was a clue to a hiding place. Maybe we take a cue from my mother – my and my brother’s birthday parties as children had themes like secret agents and castaways and her house is always beautifully decorated for holidays – or maybe we’re just big kids and want everything to be as imaginative and fun as possible – but whatever the reason, we put seemingly unncessary amounts of time into our parties.
Which is why I went pumpkin hunting on Monday. I wanted at least 4 pumpkins for Saturday’s party (some to carve before, some to carve during). The stores had been packed with pumpkins last week before I headed to Manitoba, and I figured Monday would still be early enough to have lots of selection (in fact – I was proud of myself for planning so far in advance). It turns out though that this is a bad pumpkin year (at least in Western Canada) – heavy rains have been causing pumpkins (and potatoes) to rot in the fields. I went to every grocery store in Whitehorse (for those of you not from here, we have 6 total), they were sold out everywhere except for the last place I tried (funny how it always works that way). In the end I managed to get my 4 pumpkins (leaving a solitary pumpkin in the store for another grateful “last minute” shopper) – what a relief. And now – let the decorating begin!