I’ve always enjoyed Halloween. I went trick or treating until I was a junior in high school. My friends and I did make attempts at coming up with costumes, then hit the streets around 8:30. This was in the mid to late 80’s, when trick or treating seemed to be dying out. When we showed up, the neighbors were so grateful to see us that they practically emptied their bowls of candy into our bags. I was sad to see trick or treating becoming lost to the ages. However, the tradition is alive and well on our military bases! Our tight knit communities with the small town feel really lends itself to keeping trick or treating alive. Most of the neighbors don’t even bother going indoors on Halloween night. So many kids come begging candy that it’s easier just to set up camp on your front lawn. When we lived in Korea, we gave out 15 bags of candy. Last year, on our base here, we gave out 7.
I’ve never been into the ghoulish or prankster aspect of Halloween. I much prefer decorations that are cute rather than scary. My husband used to tease me when he’d come home from work and found our house decked out for Fall and Halloween. "We have a pumpkin infestation!," he’d say.
Our family actually has two food oriented Halloween traditions. My grandma always made "goblin face" cookies. Basically, they are two pumpkin shaped cookies with a yummy raisin filling between them. The top pumpkin cookie gets a jack o’lantern face cut into it. When my mom made them, she always let me do the faces. I remember foundly my senior year in high school when one of my college-age cousins was living with us. The two of us had a fun time cutting out the faces together, making each one different. I really love these cookies, but cutting out the jack o’lantern faces can be time consuming. One year, I found a ghost cookie cutter that I liked and made ghost cookies instead. The ghost is bigger than the pumpkin, so the recipe yielded less cookies. I made each ghost face the same and with less to do, I finished faster. This year I found cake and cupcake stencils which I may use to quickly stencil the jack o’lanterns. When my children are older, I’ll pass the jack o’lantern face making duties on to them.
The second Halloween food tradition also comes from my grandmother. The story goes that my grandmother made a particular meal for dinner one Halloween. It was simple to make and gave her time to get her children ready for trick or treating. She made the same meal the next year and her children noticed. It became known as the Halloween Dinner. She made it every year after that. My mother has made it every Halloween and I think my grandmother still makes it every year, too. I have made the Halloween Dinner every year since I’ve been married. All except one year.
That year was 1998. I didn’t make the Halloween Dinner that year because I was in the hospital with my son, who had been born in the wee hours of the morning. Yep, our oldest child is a Halloween baby! That’s why we call him Boo. Really, that’s the reason.
So now, with the decorating, the cookies, the costumes, the candy and the Halloween dinner, we manage to squeeze in a little birthday celebration for the boy. It can be a little hectic, trying to get everything done in one day. One year I invited his friends over at snack time for cupcakes and Halloween punch. W-a-y too much work! Boo would like to have a birthday party on his actual birthday, but I’ve explained to him why we can’t. I think in a year or two, when he can help out more and his friends are more reliable, we’ll let him invite a couple of friends over for a small costume party, then take them all out trick or treating. But for now, we have a family celebration, usually with homemade cake and presents. We also light the birthday ring for him.
On Sunday we are going to Boo at the Zoo. If it’s something we enjoy, it may become a family tradition while we live here.
I’ll share some pictures of decorated house on Monday, for the Halloween Open House over at Don’t Try This At Home.