Magical Moments in Time

Jocelyn & Travis Limerick head off to their new life together.

We’ve all experienced them…moments in time that are truly magical that we will remember for the rest of our lives. I recently shared one such moment with my boyfriend Don Welch and it’s one that I will never forget.

BeckenRidge Vineyard in Dallas, Ore.

The air was crisp and cool and lacking of the typical Florida humidity that I am used to at home. The sun had just set and the sky filled with a soft light lacking the brilliance of the shining sun.

The day had been hectic and filled with lots of activity and a range of emotions. Don dressed in his best suit adorned with a boutonnière  along with a very tasteful and expensive yellow- and blue-striped tie. He combed his amazingly thick and enviable hair to perfection and his smell was familiar, sexy, and inviting.

All members of his warm and loving family gathered around as earlier he had emotionally walked his stunningly beautiful daughter Jocelyn down the aisle to the man of her dreams – Travis Limerick.

Following the wedding ceremony and picture-taking, we sat down to a beautiful reception and shared a wonderful meal, pleasant conversation, and much laughter. At one point, I remember sipping my wine and glancing over at Don as he surveyed the room unaware that I was watching him do so. There was a look on his face of contentment at reuniting with his girls and family and yet, I knew it was somehow already overshadowed knowing his departure home to Florida was only a day away. Even so, the love Don has for his children and family shone through.

The reception room filled with enticing music, non-stop conversation, sporadic laughter, and happy people. After dinner, I departed Don’s side to help distribute the wedding cake. Upon my return to our table, I noted Don was standing on the edges of the dance floor amiably chatting with friends and family members.

The DJ then began asking for all married couples to join the bride and groom for a special dance during which he would determine the couple with the longest marriage. The beginnings of one of my favorite songs – When I Fall in Love – suddenly filled the air as the dance floor began to fill. I grabbed Don’s hand and steered him out the open French doors and on to the patio.

The majesty and beauty of Oregon was visible in the distant mountains; in the undulating vines filled with ripening grapes; and in the brilliant green scenery composed of “Christmas” and local trees surrounding the BeckenRidge Vineyard. The patio was softly lit and there were flickering candles on each of the tables. There were very few people sitting at the outside tables and only one or two individuals wandering in and out; but basically, I felt we were all alone. I think my actions at steering him outside at first confused Don, but he went with the moment and soon understood my desire to privately dance with him.

I remember the warmth of his hand in mine and the feel of his other hand as it naturally came to rest on the small of my back. He pulled me close and surprisingly and confidently led me as we silently danced and soaked in not only the atmosphere, but each other as well. All too quickly the song ended. I hugged him tight and gave Don a kiss as I told him “I love you” and he responded, “I love you too.”

Don and I at his daughter Jocelyn's wedding.

For me, it was akin to the aligning of the stars, the moon, and the sun. We were in a beautiful setting, the song was one of my romantic favorites, and I was dancing with a man I truly love.

Yes, it was a magical night for the newlyweds Jocelyn and Travis. But I believe it was magical for Don and me as well, and it’s a moment in time that will live with me forever.

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What’s Up with a “Trick” When You “Treat?”

Sadly, Mr. Pumpkin won't be making an appearance in 2012.

Halloween was last night and it’s one of my favorite holidays. It’s the night where many hear the familiar call of “Trick or Treat” at our front doors. Advance preparation for most includes running to a store (a lot of times actually on Halloween) to purchase candy or “treats.” Of course, we all buy our favorite candy with the hopes that there will be a few leftovers once all the trick-or-treaters have visited. The “trick” is a usually an idle threat to perform mischief on homeowners or their property if no “treat” is given.

I recall years’ ago explaining Halloween to a friend from another country where Trick-or-Treating is not widely practiced. I explained: “Kids show up at your door dressed in costumes, and yell ‘Trick-or-Treat,’ you answer the door, and give them candy.” To this, he replied, “Do you know these kids?” I replied, “No, not really, the majority are strangers.” “But why do you give them candy?” he asked. “It’s just a custom here in the United States,” I stated. “How strange,” he replied. And in actuality, it really is. But who cares? It’s a fun tradition that’s here to stay as Halloween is the second highest-grossing holiday for the retail industry following the all-time leader of Christmas.

Yesterday, I spoke with a guy from my Neighborhood Patrol as they mapped out the homes participating in Halloween in order to steer trick-or-treaters – usually numbering more than 100 – throughout our neighborhood. He indicated many homeowners were either attending functions elsewhere, taking their own children trick-or-treating, or, due to unemployment, planned not to participate. He indicated the vast majority of homeowners on my block and adjacent cul-de-sac were not participating in Halloween this year.

When I heard this, I was heartbroken for the kids and told him that I would participate. I climbed up into my attic for my Halloween decorations and pulled down a string of pumpkin lights and two yard decorations – a large pumpkin, about 3’ tall, and another with ghosts rising up from a tombstone. I then raced to a store and purchased several bags of Laffy Taffy. Yes, the banana-flavored Laffy Taffy is my favorite.

Although some popular histories of Halloween have characterized trick-or-treating as an adult invention to re-channel Halloween activities away from vandalism, there are very little records supporting it. According to Wikipedia, Des Moines, Iowa is the only area known to have record of trick-or-treating being used to deter crime.

For many years, I hosted huge Halloween parties where I supplied each attending child with a goody bag of Halloween favors. I had various leftovers including vampire teeth, tattoos, glow-in-the-dark snakes, skull and spider rings, stickers, bracelets, and so forth. I mixed those together with several bags of candy and created a large bowl full of “treats” to pass out.

I had lots of trick-or-treaters with the most popular costumes being princesses, witches, zombies, and super heroes. At 8:50 p.m., my bowl of “treats” was getting low and I had just decided to cut it off at 9 p.m. I then answered the door to a group of five teenage boys. I’m guessing their ages ranged from 13- to 15-years old. One had on a Miami Dolphins jersey and another wore a scary mask but, for the most part, they were plain clothed. The boys were loud and aggressive, crowding close to me at the door wanting to know what I was giving out and why I wasn’t in a costume. Only two carried bags to collect candy.

Three of the boys were excited to receive the Laffy Taffy and specifically requested the strawberry flavored ones (yay…I still had banana-flavored ones left!) and two grabbed skull rings and vampire teeth along with the candy. Two of the older-looking, non-costume-wearing kids rejected the Laffy Taffy and Halloween favors and one stated, “We only want good candy” and they walked off. Or so I thought!

About five minutes later the doorbell rang and I answered to my neighbor standing there with one of my decorations in her hands. It was my large plastic pumpkin with a huge hole in it. She also had another neighbor’s pumpkin and asked if it belonged to me as well. She indicated she witnessed these boys kicking my pumpkin around and that they had grabbed and destroyed her scarecrow decorations and smashed several real pumpkins as well.

I told her of my exchange with them and she related she was giving out Hershey’s chocolate bars and Snickers and that these kids were aggressive with her as well. After closing her door following their visit, she heard odd noises and went out to discover the boys destroying our decorations. She indicated she called the Neighborhood Patrol to watch out for these kids as they ran off when she came outside to investigate.

We were “tricked” and we’re not sure why. We did our part by decorating and providing what we both thought were good “treats.” It was our understanding that if you give a “treat” that you do not get “tricked.” When did it start that the “treats” had to be of a certain type or value?

After my neighbor departed, I immediately took down my pumpkin lights and brought in my ghost decoration and shut off all the outside lights. Halloween 2011 was over for me at 9 p.m. I had thoroughly enjoyed all the kids (and a few dressed up dogs) prior to this group of boys that came to my door. I had kids of all ages visiting my door last night with most of the teenagers being overly polite. Several of the kids even commented how much they liked my Halloween favors and decorations, especially my cute pumpkin lights.

My “trick” on these kids is that I plan not to let a few vandals destroy my Halloween and “treat” giving. Next year, I plan to put out my pumpkin lights and ghost decorations and yes, I hope to give out Laffy Taffy again in hopes that I’ll have some banana ones left over for me.