The people's voice of reason

Tears & Laughter: It's Carnival Season

I bought a purse last week I will probably never use.

It is small. A simple zippered change pouch. I don’t need it, and it doesn’t particularly suit my taste. It is not my shade of pink. Typically, I think it might would appeal to someone much younger, but I touched it. I felt the texture of the beadwork…and it reminded me of a similar beaded change purse I had when I was a kid.

The church my family attended would have an annual Family Day. Or at least that is what we called it. It was meant to have a bit of a carnival feel. It would be held during the fall of the year, and was intended to serve as a replacement of sorts for Halloween.

Churches still struggle with the question of whether or not to celebrate Halloween. They find it difficult to give a wink and a nod to Satan for even one evening a year. So harvest festivals have become more and more popular and Family Day was our version of that. I would look forward to it every year. All the kids did.

Church members would volunteer to design a game booth, or run the booth, or supervise an activity, my parents included. They would then give tickets to everybody who played the game, or participated, or competed and at the end of the day we could trade the tickets in for different prizes.

Every year my mother would walk through the whole place with me a time or two. These were fun times for me. Between her work and my going to school, days spent just having fun together were special.

I did not label them special at the time. It is only looking back that I can recognize the value of such days.

She would stand there and watch me bob for apples. I never understood bobbing for apples. I mean I got the concept of catching the apples with your teeth, but who the hell ever came up with that idea? It is messy. It is borderline gross. And it is a game better designed for mules and horses and jackasses maybe. I don’t know, it just never made much sense to me. But for a couple of tickets…I was all in.

Then she would wait in line with me to throw darts at balloons and play ring toss and I would listen to her memories of back when she was in school at Sweetwater.

She would stand faithfully by at a distance with the other moms and dads while we played tug of war, and she was there waiting for me at the end of the obstacle course.

We walked over to the prize booth that was set up like a concession stand. I could barely see over the counter. Again she waited while I took my time deciding which of the trinkets and treasures I would choose in exchange for the tickets.

She suggested the change purse. I guess she figured it was a little more practical than a pair of plastic fangs or a Chinese yo-yo. She told me I could carry my lunch money for school in it. It was beaded, and I liked the feel and pattern of the beadwork.

That was years ago. The purse last week just reminded me. It doesn’t matter if I never use it…as long as the touch of the beads takes me back to Family Day.

Amanda Walker is a columnist and contributor with, The Birmingham News, Selma Times Journal, Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Alabama Gazette. Contact her at or at


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