Trading Pumpkins for Coconuts This Halloween
Thank you to our guest blogger, Michelle Volkmann, for this fabulous “Fall” blog!
Autumn appeals to our senses. We observe the leaves morphing from the obvious green to the unexpected vibrant shades of red and orange, sip the sweetness of hot apple cider, and listen to the squeals of children searching at a pumpkin patch.
But when the military sends you to an installation where you are more likely to apply sunscreen than wear a wool sweater, the lack of a seasonal change can cause homesickness. What’s the treatment? A firm determination to embrace creative alternatives.
Shelly Habeck, a Navy spouse, improvised when she was stationed in Florida. “We painted coconuts like pumpkins and hung them up in Key West. It was a ton of fun and they (the coconuts) are just all over the ground, so it’s free!” She also mailed these unique Halloween pumpkins to friends around the globe through the U.S. Postal Service. “Makes for an interesting postcard,” Habeck added.
When you are sweating in 90-degree heat, you need to trade your carving knife for a paintbrush. I made this mistake at my first duty station, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. A group of us delightfully carved jack o’ lanterns and placed them on the patio overnight. In the morning, we found a rotten mess of melted pumpkin.
Army spouse Natasha Zack decorates her mantle with abstract wooden pumpkins instead of the perishable kind. “I put them out mid-September and keep them out until the first of December. I also use oil burners and buy cinnamon pumpkin spice oil to give the house a fall scent.”
You can also hang a garland of artificial leaves, decorate with autumn-themed crafts, or substitute a pineapple for a pumpkin when carving a jack o’ lantern.
Host a costume party that embraces the culture of your current address. In your invitations, clearly explain the party’s theme. For example, you could request everyone dress as cowboys for a party at Fort Hood, Texas, “Top Gun” movie characters if you live near San Diego, ninjas in Yokosuka, Japan, or hula dancers at Pearl Harbor.
Start the “You’ve Been Booed” movement in your neighborhood. Similar to Secret Santa, you inconspicuously leave a small basket of inexpensive Halloween trinkets or a plate of treats on a neighbor’s doorstep. Then that person returns the favor by secretly leaving a gift for a different neighbor. This is an especially fun activity for children living in military housing. Who knows? This holiday tradition may continue in your neighborhood long after you’ve said your farewells.
Other ideas include participating in an Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest, if you are a scuba diver, making pumpkin-flavored ice cream instead of baking an apple pie, or attending a haunted history tour in your temporary hometown. The tours in St. Augustine, Fl., and New Orleans are said to be especially spooky.
And finally, plan an artificial autumn day. Take one day to turn the air conditioning on full blast, cuddle in a blanket, and watch your favorite Halloween movies.
For more hot autumn night ideas, check out these suggestions on Pinterest.