Growing up, I always enjoyed Halloween. Each year, my entire family would get together for a bit of a Halloween Hoedown.
When I say my entire family, I mean on my mom's side. My grandpa's and his brother's families would get together for a good old-fashioned cook out, horseback riding, yard games, a campfire sing along, and, of course, a hayride. Countless aunts, uncles, first/second/third cousins and grandparents joined in on the fun. (Well, maybe you could count them if you wanted, but it was a lot.)
We did this for several years in a row. However, one sticks out above the rest. It started just like other years. We grilled burgers and hot dogs, played horseshoes and rode horses. As it turned to night, we made smores and sang along as my uncle and cousin performed their rendition of "Lyin' Eyes" by the Eagles. Then it was time for the hayride.
As my cousin drove along through the night, the kids joked and played, while the adults discussed cars, politics, etc. At one point, we stopped and a couple of my uncles hopped off. They had to go back early to use the bathroom. We continued along, enjoying the night.
We followed a path through the woods on my cousin's land. His land is covered with oak trees, with a few acres of wheat here and there. When we reached the end, we turned around at Little Prairie Lake, a little fishing hole near Rolla, Mo.
Bumping along the dirt road on the return trip, I remember looking up and my heart stopped. There in front of the wagon was a jack o' lantern, head high, glowing ominously. It was not there when we'd left. Suddenly, I heard rustling and ghost noises behind us. I turned, scared, but couldn't see anyone.
As quick as the terror had set in, it stopped. No ghosts or zombies came from the woods to eat us. Yet, my heart was still racing. As we neared the homestead, my fears began to subside. That's when it came. Out of the tree line leaped my uncles, making the spookiest sounds they could muster. That was my first good Halloween scare, and the best hayride ever!
Tomorrow (Oct. 20), my son turns one. I hope I'm as good as my parents at making lasting memories with him. I realize harvest is being a real bear this year. However, don't forget to make memories along the way. After all, I think everyone will want to forget this harvest as soon as possible.
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