Jack-O-Lantern, Jack-O-Lantern you are such a funny sight . . ."
By John Norberg, humor columnist
I love Halloween.
I love it when tick-or-treaters come to our door. Every time trick-or-treaters come to our door, there's a candy bar for each little trick-or-treatee and a candy bar for the big tick-or-treator. And not coincidentally, I keep getting bigger every Halloween.
Wife: I'll get it this time.
Me: No. That's okay, I'll get it. You're busy.
Wife: What are you talking about? It's Halloween. I love seeing the children in their costumes. It's my turn. You've been rushing to the door before I can get there all night. Now it's my turn to pass out some candy.
Me: But you'll freeze standing there in front of the open door.
Wife: You know, I thought we had a lot more candy in the bowl than this. It seems to be going awfully fast. How many are you giving away?
Last year I had to make an emergency run to the store to restock the candy before the evening was half over.
Halloween to me is actually more than pumpkins, costumes and even candy bars. Halloween to me is also a couple of songs.
Like all good stories, this one goes back a long way. It dates to the earliest days of World War II when my mother was first starting to teach elementary school. She doesn't remember where she first learned them, but somewhere she learned and then taught her young students a song called "Jack-O-Lantern," and another named "Halloween."
In time there were three children in our family. She taught us the songs. Every Halloween we would carve our pumpkins, turn out the lights and sing the Halloween songs. When you learn songs like this while you are young, the words get burned into your brain forever so that you never forget them.
In time, I taught our children the "Jack-O-Lantern" and "Halloween" songs. It doesn't seem that long ago that our youngest daughter and I would drive home from grandma's house on October evenings singing "Jack-O-Lantern, Jack-O-Lantern you are such a funny sight . . ."
We sang to make the time pass faster. And time did pass fast. It passed all too quickly for me. Our kids are all grown and gone now. I miss them. But sometimes when I think back on it all, I feel like maybe I was able to teach them a few good things. I taught them to believe they could do whatever they set out to do. I taught them to eat their vegetables first so they could get on with the stuff they really liked. And I taught them a couple silly Halloween songs.
Life is good. We have three grandkids now. And after they carve their pumpkins we turn out the lights and sing "Jack-O-Lantern" and "Halloween." On Halloween night we sing the songs again and drink root beer floats to wash down the candy bars we sneak when their mom isn't looking.
I suppose 20 years from now our grandkids will teach these songs to their children, and 20 years later another generation will be singing them as well.
Fifty years from now our kids, grandkids, great and even great great grandkids will probably sit around laughing about me and the Halloween songs every time they carve a pumpkin and drink a root beet float!
Some of them won't even know my name. But my mother and I will be there, in the songs. That's our legacy.
Root beer floats, candy bars and family Halloween songs.
It's not a bad way to be remembered.
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