Friday, October 07, 2005

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Well, the Clarks have been to Artic Circle to get a square pumpkin meal with spooky Halloween flashlight, an honor we reserve for Halloween only. The rest of the year the kids have to get the "value" kids meal, which is a treat in and of itself because sometimes it's just a bag of burgers and some fries to share with water--at home! (at least I'm not the mom who orders the bag of burgers and brings her own kool-aid from home and cuts the burgers in half to make them go along longer IN THE RESTAURANT. . . I'm just saying. . . that I have. . . some. . . of my pride) This marks the beginning of a very special spooky season, and I don't think you need me to type it out.

The lights have been strung: orange and green and white in-between glow in the dark skeletons, spiders and leaves, the decorations have been hung with care: pumpkin stands that didn't sell at that #@$! art market, spicy candles, and a new ghost rug from Target, and the children are watching Icabod and Charlie Brown Halloween as I write (what's up with Snoopy and the WWI flying ace? I never did get that-). The Clarks have a long, strong tradition of Halloween obsession. I married into the Clark family and although my mother hung wooden pumpkins with silly faces on our front porch, and other than trick-or-treating, that was all the Halloween tradition I was brought up with. The Clarks, however, start celebrating (or at least talking about it and planning it) the day after the 4th of July. All of my children have inherited this obsession. October is a long, long month culminating into a night that inevitably ends in vomit.

O-dog has thrown up every Halloween of his life with the exception of last year, although there was some dry heaving. Maybe a little wet, but we gave it to him. He gets too excited and it's the one day that I let him monitor himself. It sort of stands as a cautionary tale for the rest of the year: "Are you sure you want more than one cookie? Remember what happened on Halloween. . . ?" I've got to use what I've been given as a mother. Miles, on the other hand, will count his candy, save it, put it in order from most favorite to least, try to manipulate the other children into giving him his favorite, or trade a kit kat for a smartie or gross peanut chew (thanks grandma, but no thanks) or something like that. I really think the way you treat Halloween says a lot about your personality. Phoebe's still figuring it all out, but keeps changing her mind on what princess to be. As all mothers of young girls knows, Disney has made a pact with Satan and I think it's appropriate that we acknowledge that on All Hallow's Eve.

My favorite Halloween memory, however gross (but isn't that the point of Halloween?) is when we were living in England. Dawlish was the perfect setting for a spooky holiday night, but the English couldn't have been less excited about celebrating it. Which is so funny, because they're usually so excited about everything. . . humm. I decided to throw a Halloween party for some friends with little kids so that my little boys wouldn't miss out on this really important holiday (and so I could talk to some adults that week).

Some of the highlights:

Costumes: no one came in costumes but my boys dressed in Superman jammies, but one mum brought trash bags and made costumes for her three kids out of them there (impressive), because she thought that was the whole point of Halloween--you make your own costumes.

Treats: I made chocolate cupcakes with crushed up oreos on top and gummy worms. I told the kids that in America kids eat dirt and worms all the time and they believed me. One little girl, Rebecca, wouldn't touch it even after her mother assured her I was kidding. I introduced everyone to the magical confection that is candy corn.

Activities: I read spooky books which was fun, and then Rebecca, still suspicious of the American dirt-eater, asked me to put on her witch's make-up to match her (trash-bag) costume. I was so excited she asked me to do it, combining all my loves: make-up, Halloween, and small children. I did a great job, I really did. When she looked at her face in the mirror, she started to cry and made her mom wipe it off.

After everyone had left, I decided it was time for us to go get some of that good English chocolate! We went out into the night and saw an old lady across the road giving something to some kids so we thought, "Okay, they do this here, lets go!" As we approached the door the lady yelled, "I'm not doing this anymore!" and slammed the door (my babies were in the stroller--3 and 1.5, niiiice), so we went on. . . and on. . . and found NO ONE was offering candy. So we went to my friend's house (with each step I'm getting more and more determined that my children WILL TRICK OR TREAT!) and her kids, who came to our party, were asleep, but she gave us really great jam donuts and we called it a night.

I had bought three large sacks of individually wrapped Malteasters for our Halloween visitors and not one person came to our door that night. Owen found them, and the rest was a large sloppy mess on my kitchen floor. And every year since, we are confident he will carry on our family tradition. Artic Circle and throwing up. I guess I didn't realize how very white-trash our traditions are, but it really works for us.