Monday, October 31, 2011

Biggest Halloween Ever!

Some of my friends from far away have been asking me lately whether people around Utah, being as pious as they are known to be,“ do Halloween”. And let me tell you, my friends, a story about Halloween in Utah County!

This is my second year here, and I don’t remember quite a busy night from last year, but oh my word, my doorbell is probably numb at the moment from all the small and big pilgrims ringing it since 5 PM. I think I stopped counting at 20. And we don't even have the light on the porch on, which was, I thought, a sure sign they would "know".

I personally don’t like Halloween – nothing to judge, just a matter of personal taste – and I never buy candy, so I never open the door on this night. But tonight might have changed my mind forever! I’d rather open the door and share in the fun costumes and eager eyes than be behind closed shutters and looking like the wicked witch of the west to all my neighbors’ kids.

But even before tonight! A friend of mine came to visit us in early October – and the whole town was dressed up for Halloween. She even noticed how, driving along the mountains, outside the Provo city limits, there was Halloween d├ęcor out in the middle of nothing, on a hill. The Spanish Fork downtown was also dressed up to the occasion, as early as October 8th!

As my friend put it: "Look! Crazy Halloween decorations in the middle of nowhere!"

From years past, I have been used to people coming dressed up in costumes at work on this day, maybe sharing candy with co-workers and decorating the cubes in dollar store garb. This was Halloween at work to me in the rest of America. Today, at my new job in the midst of Utah County, home of the BYU, things were much, much more different!

Practically every aisle was decorated, and one whole area was enclosed from floor to ceiling in black tarp, with the lights out – as if in a haunted house. Around 3 PM, the entire company stopped working, practically, and every department started playing loud music, according to the theme they all picked for the department: my area had big band, pirate ship music, and the area adjacent to ours had bluegrass music, as everyone there was dressed up as “swamp”, redneck folk.

And then, the spouses (mostly wives) came in with the kids – every family had anywhere between two and five kids, and every other family had one on the way, too. Everyone was wearing a costume, even kids as small as a few months, and some of the clothes were very intricate and home tailored – nothing you can get at WalMart, I am sure. These things were involved! The makeup, too. The kids went by all the departments, and greeted everyone, picking up one piece of candy from each offering bowl, under the close policing of the parents. It was quite a disciplined affair.

Everyone, kids and parents alike, seemed to have a ton of fun! So, yeah, I think I would conclude that they do do Halloween in Utah. And even are serious about it! Well, as serious as you can be about grown men in tights, that is!

The company I work for not only afforded to let everyone play for a couple of hours, but they also paid for all the candy we gave away to folks and they bought treats for everyone, too, in the form of festive donuts, crullers, lemonade and soft drinks.

Now, what all those parents can possibly do with 5 pieces of candy (per department) x 5 kids x 10 departments + candy from all the neighborhood houses + relatives’ houses is absolutely mind numbing to me! But they surely do prepare a lot for this one night of ghoulish fun! I could almost say they could give lessons to the rest of the nation, or at least the parts I have been familiar with till now.

Spanish Fork downtown, decorated for Halloween. We noticed this on October 8th, but I am sure it had been there for a while.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An Autumn Drive. A Random Thought.

My car needed some repairs this week. So, I dropped it off overnight to the dealership and I picked it up this morning, when then sun was not all the way up, yet. They parked it in the parking lot, so it was cool and all covered in autumn dew when I drove it off the lot. When I climbed into the driver’s seat and drove away (forgetting to use my scraper to clear up the windows), I kept cringing at the touch of the cold wheel and I kept pulling my windows down, so I can see if it’s clear to turn. And then I remembered – all this cold and dewy window business felt awfully familiar.

Until May of last year, I never had a garage. Cleaning up the windows in the morning, during fall and winter was second nature before. Waiting for the car to warm up a little before I drove off was, too. All of a sudden all these things that were “normal”, routine, till a year ago were such a huge inconvenience this morning. All because for the past year my car has been sheltered in a garage, away from the elements.

And this is the trouble with life: we forget! We forget where we started. How low we started, and how hard. We get used to the “easy” and we forget we can handle harder times. I have a friend who says “the human body has an amazing ability to forget pain”. And worst of all, we take for granted, like I do the garage and the clean windows in the morning. And the (relatively) warm seats at 7 AM in October.

The past few weeks have been especially hard, with just little bombs blowing up here and there … And I have found myself sighing and telling myself how I’ve had enough and how I want some good news, for God’s sake. But I forget how much good news there is in the span of my every 24 hours. How I still walk and talk on my own, and I am no burden to anyone, how I still have my mind. How I can have a great job with benefits, that allows me freedom to eat and drink and play, when so many people are counting days till the unemployment will run out. How I have a shelter, and a beautiful family, how I love my husband and how he loves me back. How I am greeted every day by three beautiful, healthy, purring cats that never once fail to make me smile. How I still have sight to see the sun and the moon, and the beautiful mountains and the leaves turning. How I have beautiful friends who have not forgotten about me, even after over a year of physical absence! How … I can go on forever now, but you get the idea.

We forget. Way too easily, we do. And I thought to stop for a second and acknowledge some of the things that I am grateful for, even during these hard times.

This morning’s ride was a great reminder of the bigger things in my life – a reminder that I can always handle harder, that I have handled more (even as trivial as this simple ride may sound), and that I am still here, through it all. Today, I am grateful for even the harder things that came our way lately – because I know they will make us stronger and make us happier when things do get straightened out.

But I am not holding my breath. Life will do whatever life will do – hard or easy, its course is its own. In the meantime, I am just grateful for a garage, in the winter.