Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Something to Celebrate: The Great(est) Pumpkin Party

I'm so excited to have my first guest post today. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect person, or event to celebrate. Kari is the reason I ever started blogging. I would have never had the gumption to figure it out, or even the knowledge of what a blog was. She helped me set my first blog up back in 2006, even though she had been blogging for years before that. She's amazing, for so many different reasons, and I'm grateful to call her my friend. I hope you enjoy the gift of her writing today, as much as I do every time she writes. Her post today, absolutely expresses ever so eloquently, what true celebration is all about.


It all started with the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. Those muffins have been my go-to recipe since high school, a crowd pleaser that takes minimal effort and makes the kitchen smell divine. I have converted people who thought they didn't like pumpkin and people who turn up their nose at the idea of pumpkin and chocolate together. The muffins have developed a following, a cult of sorts. We make them all year round, but when we think of fall, we think of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. Though Halloween is anathema in some circles, we like the fun parts of Halloween: children in costumes, fall food, and opening our home to the people around us. Though my brother claims that Charlie Brown and his friends are not suitable for children, there's something to love about the unshakeable faith of Linus as he waits in the pumpkin patch. Somehow or another, the muffins plus my love of pumpkin pie and my husband's love of Charlie Brown led to the idea of having a Great Pumpkin Party.

The first year, it was a modest affair, with muffins and cookies and pumpkin carving and Linus in all his sincerity. We set up the projector outside, and after Linus failed, once again, to see the Great Pumpkin, we watched the Halloween episode of The Office. Since then, it has grown to include soup, pumpkin ale, some intensely competitive carving, s'mores, and more people than I would have thought possible. The list of invitees stretches to include new friends, new boyfriends, new spouses, new children. We have friends who claim it is their favorite party of the year. Our neighbors offer the use of their swingset. We serve the soup in cups for easier portability. We remember to buy tea lights. We string twinkle lights in the trees. I bake cheesecake because I know it will make Melissa happy. We make long lists of food and delegate things like bread and marshmallows and beer. The kids feed my rabbit all night long.

I love the Great Pumpkin Party and look forward to it all year. We choose the date early and make it known to our friends so they can reserve it on their calendars. But the truth is that it's a lot for me. I prefer smaller events, time with one family or one couple, time to talk and laugh, time to share the ordinary parts of life. I worry that people feel neglected, because I only grab three minutes with them, or six, or ten at the most. I make a run through the kitchen and am relieved to see that there is still food. I forget to take pictures and then regret it for a solid
year, promising myself that I will do better next year. I feel rushed and fear I come across that way. The truth is, I wish I had a little bit more control, wish I could make sure everyone is having a good time.

My husband, though, is the opposite. He enjoys setting the party free and seeing what will happen. He lets our friends connect, trusting that we know good people who will reach out to one another. He calmly handles things like building the fire and moving tables. He finds a quiet corner and chats with a friend, feeling no obligation to manage anyone. He is friendly and warm, in his element. He and Melissa have taught me a lot about throwing parties, just as they have taught me a lot about being comfortable in my own skin. I would not have been able to let the party grow to the extent that it has grown today if I had not been paying attention to their lessons about making people feel comfortable by being comfortable myself.

The Great Pumpkin Party isn't something small that you can throw together in a day. In a sense, it might not fit with Melissa's theme of everyday celebrations. But if a party can grow out of a love of muffins and a holiday special, it can grow out of anything. What makes the Great Pumpkin Party so much fun is that we have it at all, that we take the time to think through the details. What I have learned from four years of having Great Pumpkin Parties is that it's not really about the muffins or Charlie Brown getting all those rocks. It's about finding something to celebrate. And then doing it with all your heart.


Kari blogs at Through a Glass, Darkly and is also participating in NaBloPoMo. Stop by daily this month to enjoy her letters to her unborn son. I promise, you won't be disappointed.

Linking up with Imperfect Prose.


  1. Makes me wish I'd get an invite! ;) Sounds like a wonderful party!!

  2. smiles. finding something to that is a good habit....sounds like a great time...

  3. I love this whole idea. I have one of the only intown pumpkin patches I know of, because I love fall and orange so. And as for the party - you are our kind of people. We are currently planning our 9th annual Christmas party, which has grown into quite an affair for this little house.

  4. i love this idea. and i love pumpking chocolate chip muffins. kari--your words always touch deep. and melissa, thank you, for sharing her with us. bless you both. thank you for linking today. xo

  5. This sounds like so much fun. Wish I could come! Blessings.

  6. It is also my favorite party of the year...incase I'm not the friend who said it out loud.

  7. Love fall and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins sound divine. Ooooh! That reminds me. Time for Pumpkin Latte at (you know where).
    I experience all of your frustrations, only to the point that I don't throw big parties--or small ones anymore. It takes everything in me to get through the food prep! I need to be more comfortable in my own skin.
    Thank you for your celebratory post.


  8. Haha... I was stuck at the mention of pumpkin chocochip muffins. Kind of wanted to stop reading and go find some right then and there. Alas, no pumpkins and no chocochips where I am. Anyway, it sounds like a fab excuse to celebrate!

  9. You linked up! And then people posted all these nice things. What a lovely surprise. :)