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Editor’s Note: Tammy Keith is on vacation. This column originally ran in 2006. Her then 16-year-old is now 28 and celebrating his fourth wedding anniversary this month, and she and her husband are celebrating their 31st.

I can’t believe it’s October. I’m still trying to get in shape for swimsuit season.

I’m excited, though, because October is my favorite time of year.

Even though I get goosebumps when it’s below 80 degrees, I love the crisp fall weather. It’s football weather, and I have fond memories of being a majorette at Harrisburg High School and marching in the band. Fall reminds me of being in the homecoming court and going with Mom to buy a dress and then walking arm in arm with my dad on that field under the bright lights, thinking, “Don’t trip, don’t trip, don’t trip” with every step. I remember big homecoming mums with orange and black ribbons, pep rallies and homecoming dances.

I love October for another reason. Call me crazy or politically incorrect, but Halloween is my favorite holiday.

The drama queen in me always loved dressing up, ratting my long hair and going trick-or-treating as a witch, or pretending to be a gypsy while wearing my mother’s bracelets.

When I was growing up, my dad would drive me to the nicest neighborhood in town, and I remember my little heart would leap when Id see a fun-sized candy bar (the Holy Grail) drop into my plastic pumpkin.

I wonder if my parents took candy from my pile the way I did with my children. The fact that our boys didn’t like nuts was a real plus back then.

My favorite Halloween candy, though, is the crunchy Peanut Butter Bars. I have perfected a method of eating them. I unwrap them and sort of squirt them from their little wrappers into my mouth — over and over and over.

I have great memories of my boys and their Halloween costumes, such as John as a little firefighter, complete with a fireman’s hat, red raincoat and a stuffed Dalmatian dog that he carried. Scott, my younger son, once dressed as Aladdin, but he could have passed for a little organ-grinder monkey.

You never know if it’s going to be 80 degrees or 40 on Halloween. Once when it was freezing on Halloween, I remember John was a cowboy, and we dropped his toy gun somewhere in our neighborhood and had to retrace our steps as the wind howled.

I think my husband and I enjoyed picking out and carving pumpkins more than our children did. In fact, we carved pumpkins before we even had children, as I recall, with our cat, Shoe, eating the insides of the pumpkins as my husband cleaned them out.

When I was pregnant with my 28-year-old (who will turn 29 on Nov. 1), I went into early labor and wasn’t supposed to lift a finger, so my husband drove me to a huge display of pumpkins and walked all over as I pointed out from the car the ones I wanted. Making pumpkin pies is the only baking I do all year, but I do it early and often.

It’s also time for that classic television special It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. It wouldn’t be October without it.

The best part of this Halloween is that I now have a soon-to-be 17-month-old granddaughter to experience the fun of fall and trick-or-treating with — and raid her little plastic pumpkin of candy.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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