10/26/11

Memories of The Pumpkin Patch

One of my favorite memories back in the Midwest ~ I now live in Southern California ~ is of visits to the "The Pumpkin Patch." It was such a time of joy.

The one I visited in Indiana was more than just rows and rows of pumpkins of all sizes. There were also:

  • Pumpkin treats (pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, packets of roasted pumpkin seeds, etc.)
  • Bushels of apples, apple cider, jars of apple butter, and apple treats (pies and cobblers, jars of apple sauce, etc.),
  • Bushels of corn, cornbread, and gift items made from corn cobs.
But The Pumpkin Patch was more than a smorgasbord of food items. It was a tradition. It was a family gathering place. Children walked up and down the rows outside, looking for the "perfect" pumpkin. Women sold homespun items, pretty aprons, and "countrified" craft items. Farmers competed for the "largest pumpkin" and "prettiest pumpkin." Sometimes there was a punkin' chuckin' contest ~ people seeing how far they could throw a purchased pumpkin ~ trying to win a prize.

I always liked to find a pumpkin with a strong stem, so I could turn it on its side to make a "face" instead of carving the pumpkin. (The stem was the nose.) I love to get creative beyond the typical "jack-o-lantern" cut-out pumpkins with all sorts of pumpkin "pets." (Here are some ideas.)

The opening of the Pumpkin Patch in September was more than the beginning of joy-filled days. It always signaled that all the festivities of fall were right around the corner, and we'd better get hoppin' and buyin' if we wanted to be prepared. So we stocked up. We got ready.

[In the same way, I've always appreciated the "signs and signals" in all areas of life that alert me to what's coming, so I can be prepared. For example, there have been plenty of warnings in California to be prepared for "the big one" ~ a huge earthquake. Smart Californians have what they will need for weeks, maybe months, "just in case." And as a Christian, I also see the "signs" of Christ's return. Though I don't know the day nor hour when He'll return (Matthew 25:13), I need to be getting ready for that day (Luke 12:40; Matthew 24:44).

But back to the Pumpkin Patch ...
So much about the Halloween holiday deals with scary things.
.. ghosts and goblins, vampires and witches ... and even death. But I saw a picture of a carved pumpkin online that flies in the face of all of that. It was a pumpkin showing Jesus, coming out of the tomb, and it said, "Jesus Defeats Death!"

Love it!

There is much debate among Christians about whether we should celebrate Halloween. It's a matter of conscience, for many. It's hard to avoid in our culture.

Many churches offer a Halloween alternative, redeeming this holiday from the agenda of the evil one. Some have a fall or harvest festival' or a "Pumpkin Patch Fundraiser" for a good cause; or they get friends and families together for pumpkin carving and a skating party or hayride; or host a special evangelistic outreach. Some prefer to celebrate "Reformation Day" on October 31st. Here's an example of how one woman does that with her family. I wish I'd started that tradition with my sons, years ago.

But here's how I've handled it in recent days... pretty simple. September and October always take me back to memories of the Pumpkin Patch that I carry in my heart, signaling that good things are ahead to celebrate:
  • In September, I celebrate the fall season (and some relief from California heat!) as I decorate with autumn's colors;
  • In October, I celebrate the good harvest God gives us in the fall, and I do a lot of yummy baking;
  • During Thanksgiving, I celebrate and praise God for the many blessings from my Father's hand ~ provision, protection, peace, power, etc.;
  • At Christmas, I celebrate the truth that Jesus came to ultimately conquer sin and death ~ my Savior;
  • And all year long, I can anticipate a heavenly celebration and a reward, because I look forward to and "love His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:8; Acts 1:11b)
There's a lot of JOY in all these celebrations, and
I'm not going to let the enemy rob me of that joy!

So make the choice. Come with me to the Pumpkin Patch, Friend.


Linger awhile. Savor the season.

Anticipate the celebrations.


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