Folks’ll say that it’s the little things that make up life. Mostly the old folks say it. But there are also those folks who fancy themselves wise beyond their years and they’ll say it some.
I disagree with all of them.
My wife and I spent a couple of hours after breakfast cleaning house. We cleaned from top to bottom. We dusted, washed, straightened and sorted. We got rid of clutter. We swept, we mopped, we opened all the windows and scrubbed with such vigor that if you’d simply stepped in off the street you’d have sworn it was Spring and we’d just spent a long cold Winter hiding from the snow with all of the junk we’d accumulated by stopping to warm ourselves in dusty old secondhand stores after dreaded but necessary trips to the supermarket.
When there was finally nothing left to clean we went to town and killed an hour or two. Then we came home and instituted a new tradition.
I don’t remember exactly how it started. I’m not even sure it had a definable starting point. It just sort of coalesced like a sudden Summer thunderstorm as we were carving pumpkins. We were every one of us orange and stringy up to our elbows around the kitchen table. We were talking and laughing and, if I remember correctly, my kids began to dump their pumpkin guts into my pumpkin cavity. I then smeared a gooey orange line down my daughter’s cheek.
She looked horribly affronted and wiped her cheek clean just above the smile/sneer-of-disgust she wore on her lips. My son, standing in his chair, dumped another heap of midden into my gourd and I flung a slimy chunk right back at him. It plunked itself perfectly under his eye with a sick sounding splat, sat for a brief moment, then splatted again on the table.
And it was on. Pumpkin goop was flying all over the freshly cleaned and aired out kitchen followed soon by pumpkin chunks and, if I hadn’t put a stop to it I’m sure the pumpkins themselves would’ve been heaved across the table.
That little thing, the kind the old folks and the seemingly wise folks’ll say make up life, made a huge thing.
A slimy, goopy, stringy, huge orange mess.
Later, as I swept and scraped and vigorously scrubbed again, as I picked pumpkin seeds out of one little head of red hair and two little heads of blonde hair, I remembered the way my son danced and cackled in his kitchen chair as he scraped together bigger and bigger globs to fling. I remembered a little red-head who can barely string a sentence together because her mouth runs faster than her mind giggling and stating loudly “Don’t get me with it! Actualty, I don’t wanna do pumpkin fight.” I remembered my oldest trying to look grown up, pretending she wasn’t enjoying it all but still letting a few smiles slip. I remembered the cold on my scalp as they, at my wife’s encouragement, fashioned me a glorious pumpkin spice toupee and the way it felt when cold, slimy seeds zig-zagged down my back under my shirt.
It wasn’t the little pumpkin fight that made up life today.
It was the huge mess that needed cleaning afterward that imprinted the memories permanently on my mind.
I bid you adieu…and a don’t.
Adieu…savor the big things. They can be just as important as the little things.
A don’t…wear a pumpkin toupee if you can avoid it. It really isn’t all that pleasant.