I think most of us can agree that if something is going to go wonky, it will happen in 2020.
Many of us have missed birthday, graduations, weddings, visits with grandparents, as well as smaller things like county fairs, going to the movies, and simple grocery store trips. Imagine my surprise when pumpkins are what interjected normalcy back into our lives.
First I need to back up to March when the world shut down. As things were closing and cancelling one by one, our 9 year old asked, “We’ll still be able to trick-or-treat, right?” This silly momma laughed it off, saying of course, because who in their right mind thought certain government officials would want to keep us locked up for over seven months?!
Well, here we are in October, and various people want to cancel Halloween (which is a topic for a whole other post.) I was scrambling to find a way to keep some of our traditions alive, not only for our youngest, but also for our eldest during her last year at home. Enter our local pumpkin patch.
We live in an area that has multiple pumpkin patches, from easy drive thru and grab a few to large farms of pick-your-own. About seven years ago, we discovered one of the latter with which we fell in love, and we’ve been back every year since. It is a family-owned, multiple generation farm, currently run by a lovely young woman whose goal is to share her passion of agriculture with others.
I was worried the pumpkin patch would be another Rona casualty. Imagine my delight when they announced they would be opening … with slight differences of course, but at least opening! No hay rides – okay, I can live with that. No hay bale maze, cornhole games, or corn sandbox. I can deal with that, too. There would still be the amazing wagon deal on pumpkins, pick-your-own sunflowers, and the fantastic photo op of “how many pumpkins tall are you?” All great stuff, but the best news? The farm took a common sense measure on masks.
You see, the area is HUGE. Plenty of room to socially distance from others and still find your perfect pumpkin. That means no masks required (although recommended for the one person in your party you send to check out, which is also done outside.) Finally, FREEEEEEDDDDOMMMMMMM! Someone who recognizes that outdoors, breathing in fresh air, away from others, there is no need to strap something across your face, unless you choose to do so.
Pumpkins may not seem like a big deal, but I am incredibly grateful for this little bit of normalcy in our lives. And yes, I got a bit teary when I thanked the farmer for all of her hard work.
Yep, this one. The one with masks.
Now, before we get too carried away, this isn't a debate about whether we should wear masks or not. It is a simple explanation of why I won't be commemorating this season with multiple photos of my children with masks on their faces.
Part of this is easy. I want to capture their beautiful smiles and hilarious expressions. I want to see the way our eldest child's dimples shine, our son's habit of slightly sticking out his tongue when he is concentrating (just like his grandfather), and how you can almost predict with 100% accuracy what kind of request will come out of our youngest's mouth depending on the set of her lips.
The sadness, frustration, and difficulty of this season is already etched on our hearts. We don't need to look back at photos of ourselves in masks to be reminded, especially when said photos will cover up much of the emotions those pictures could tell.
I can hear people coming out of the woodwork now to say if we don't document it, we'll forget. First of all, I was trained as an historian before I chose to come home with my kids. There is plenty of documentation of masks in the current culture; you don't need to subject your children to front porch photo shoots in which they wear cloth face coverings of their favorite animated character to have evidence of your existence during Coronavirus. Secondly (and once again, as an historian), I can give you multiple examples of how we choose to forget the past even WITH photographic evidence right in front of our eyes.
I’m choosing to photograph the ways we are celebrating this season. Swimming, cornhole, water balloon fights in the front yard. More family game nights than I can count. Our eldest planning college visits. Our middle starting in-person Scout meetings again. Our youngest expanding her culinary skills. All wonderful memories, and all without masks.
Now, all that being said, if you are filling your SD card or cloud with masked photos of your family, you do you. We are all coping in different ways. For me, I’m going to go capture a few more gorgeous smiles.