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.


~j. said...

Lisa, it's so good to get a new post from you! Thank you for acknowledging the Disney-Satan contract. Does it ever expire? I know that my family is in it for atleast a few more years. Does your husband get any sort of kick-back from it?

Anonymous said...

Lisa! I'm sitting here laughing my bee-hind off about the Dawlish Halloween experience!! What a great source of entertainment you are for a poor mom whose caught her baby's cold/ear infection! Was it Jenny that ended up giving you the doughnuts?? I remember M&O so cute snuggled up so tight in their strollers!
Our Halloween experience in Exeter consisted of going with Sherri and Christian to the "Ghost and Goblins Tour" of the city of Exeter. Of course, it turned out to be all hype!

Anonymous said...

Oops I didn't mean to go "anonymous said".....I'll sign my name!

Dana H.

lisa v. clark said...

Yes it WAS Jenny! I'm sorry you're sick! I tried to call you but I have the wrong number--we need to talk! What ever happened to Sherri and Christian? How's your baby? Running around?

Jenny, if Topher DID get a kick-back. . . man, just think of it. . . those awful Disney sequels ALONE. . . (Lion King "1.5", really? REALLY? "2" wasn't enough?). . .

Mrs. Phippen said...

Darling Lisa,
I remember sharing that Halloween experience from across the pond with you. I laughed myself silly over it then, and I'm laughing again.

Anyway, Xandri (Darling Phoebe's twin) has decided to be Cinderella. ;o) She's officially the Drama Queen, Diva-spawn of age 2.

I hope Arctic Circle and barfing is all it's cracked up to be. My offspring will be doing the trick-or-treat-smell-my-feet (Jack's Chant) with their dad while I hand out candy and hope that the holiday goes away. Why do some people LOVE Halloween, while others (like me) hate it desperately??


lorienfrancis said...

Halloween--why can't it last all year? I love it. I come from the Make-Your-Own-Costume sort, but I must say I do pretty well. Last year's one eyed, one horned flying purple people eater (with purple fur, of course) was a hit on my six year old daughter. She rocks. This year it sounds like I have to make a cheerleader for my 4 year old. Uck. Sorry to Chris, no princess-kick-backs from the Francis kids this year (first time in the last 4 yrs), unless he gets some from Violet Parr?

I would've thought you were exagerating about Owen except that I've seen it myself. I get all frantic when my kids puke, but at Chris' b-day you were like, "Oh Owen, not again." Poor kid. That's a lousy habit. Funny, but lousy.

Miss Five said...

I cannot tell you how relieved I am to have a new, super great post from you! I had even prepared myself for the disapointment of nothing new - and you saved the day.

It's so hard to believe that it's been so long since the Dawlish Halloween - cuz now Barfy...I mean Owen is your big, handsom boy! I'm still blown away by the transformation. Maybe he could go as "Bees in the head Owen" for Halloween this year?!

I must also mention that I have a really hard time with costumes that aren't scary? Now if the princess-satan-disney pact is true then the princesses are scary...otherwise...what?!?!?!

Dana H said...

I'm better today! Yeah! YES, I've been meaning to call you...since like FOREVER!! :) We bought a house at the end of August. Our phone number changed at that time. How ridiculous!! We only moved maybe a 1 1/2 miles down the road. Kelley emailed Topher our new addresss and phone number when we moved. Let me know when a good time it is to talk and I'll call you. I SO miss you!! Grant is walking and is into EVERYTHING!! Makes my life so interesting!!!

Emmie said...

I'm so happy to read a new post from you! Here's a Halloween question: was it Miles or Owen who had the caterpillar costume and was afraid of it? I can't remember, but I loved that story!

c jane said...

Alas, Lisa you did marry into a family of the Halloween-obsessed. Where did that come from? I must write a critical/psychological essay someday.
CK and I are always excited to see your clan on the BIG NIGHT because your kid's costumes are always so clever. Last year, I believe Christopher was Earnest Hemmingway.
(Do you remember that I got on CK's shoulders and was the world's tallest witch???)
Well, anyway, looking forward to yet another year with you and yours!

Bek said...


It is a shame we don't live closer. I am also obsessed with it. I love to decorate (I have three Halloween decoration totes, only one for Christmas). I remember one year you went as Chris and he went as you. Pretty good.

Let Phoebe be all the princesses. At the same time. Who cares, right? :-) This is the first year Lu ISN"T a princess and it makes me pretty sad.

I didn't know Owen was a puker. Poor baby!! That sounds like such a Derek thing. Those boys are intense. Some day I am going to be at your house for Halloween.

As for England. You get an A+ for effort. I remember being shocked that even though they don't celebrate it there, they didn't even KNOW about it. Then again, I didn't know that on November 5th, they beg for a "penny for the Guy" and burn effogies (spelling?) of Guy Fawkes. I guess he tried to burn down parlament about 8 million years ago. They call it Guy Fawks Day or Bonfire night. Everyone stands around eating jacket potatoes w/ beans and coleslaw on them and watches Guy burn at the bonfire. They couldn't believe I had never heard of that, so I guess we are even.

What is everyone going to be?

christopher clark said...

Courtney - we have you as that big witch on video, and the kids love to watch it. It's pretty funny. PS. I absolutely was Ernest Hemingway last year. Thanks for remembering. The devil is in the details.

My recollection of that Dawlish Halloween is that there was a full moon over the English Channel, which was perfect. And after we brought the kids home, Lisa sent me out to get a kebab. I walked downtown, past the old cathedral and the crazy old headstones, and thought to myself that England is perfect for Halloween if ambience is all that matters. Then some teens drove by and threw some eggs at me. I hid out in Sainsbury's for about twenty minutes. I FREAKING HATE TEEN-AGERS.

jennie f said...

Hey Lisa, now you don't have to pretend that the donuts were great -come on!!! I could feel the dissapointed vibes for weeks afterwards, - but I just read the comment from Chris which says he had eggs thrown at him. Well, back in lovely London, that was exactly what happened at Halloween, It would be eggs if you were lucky, or something much nastier. Halloween, for the youth of Britain, is an excuse to terrorise, the rest of us. I never knew that kind of thing was going on in sleepy little Dawlish though, I'm shocked!! So, its not that I'm mean (well, maybe a bit)but I usually don't open my door on Halloween, sorry Clarks! Hey, bonfire night though, thats another story, and yes we do all eat jacket potatoes on November the 5th, its the law!!! x

AzĂșcar said...

Throwing eggs, indeed! Why everyone knows that throwing pumpkins is far more in keeping with the holiday and far more destructive upon impact.

I don't remember any Halloweens spent abroad, but I do remember one Valentine's Day where we almost had my mom convinced that school was closed because Valentine's was an Austrian National Holiday. Then she had to go and confirm with a neighbor...*grumbles*

abelnap said...

There is a simple solution to the Disney Princess pact--coming from a mother of 4 girls. I simply don't allow them to consider being princesses on Halloween. I also refuse to allow dressing as a character from a Disney movie (see exceptions below). I have carefully instructed my girls that Halloween isn't just playtime dress-ups. All Hallows Eve, is the night of October 31st when the spirit and normal world allegedly become one. No place for a princess. And though there are some connections to the early Roman church and a holiday created to honor saints, American Halloween claims its roots in an old Druic fire festival called Samhain (pro. sow-in). A feast of the dead held at the end of the harvest and marking the onslaught of the merciless winter months. Obviously, winter was riddled with sickness and death. Does this sound like a festival fit for princesses? No! Especially not those wicked Philistine Disney Princesses. They would be hiding their heads under their ridiculously cheap, satin (ha ha, I wrote satan first) and tulle skirts. So really, the only appropriate Disney characters (and I don't just mean for Halloween) would be Maleficent, the wicked queen from Snow White--especially as the twisted old nag with the poison apple, or perhaps Cinderella's step mother. Maybe Ursula, though her evilness is tainted by a great sense of humor. Hope that's helpful.

wendysue said...

Hey Lisa! I remember Julie (Gould) Ramsay saying the first year they were in Switzerland, they tried to do trick-or-treating. She even went to her neighbors homes earlier in the day and handed them apples and some candy to give to her kids ("listen, you don't even have to buy anything, just hand them this when they come to the door."). The neighbors did not get it at all! One old lady invited them in and gave the kids some nasty old food while they all chatted, and half of the people wouldn't even answer the door. Crazy Europeans!! I miss you guys like crazy. I still love you and Chris as Superman and Wonderwoman (magic wristbands and all!) for Halloween and Miles as the Turkey of course!!

lisa v. clark said...

Such useful information Allison! Did I mention Phoebe was TWO?! Good luck to me prying that cheap satin and toulle from her peanut butter and jelly crusted hands!! But she does change her mind every other day, so maybe I can convince her to go as a witch. . . I'll keep you posted. I'm sure you'll be waiting to see how this all turns out!

Wendy--such awesome memories! REmember how Topher wore a jockstrap over his sweatpants to be Superman. And remember how he dyed it with red Kool-Aid. . . those were the days.

wendysue said...

He must have purchased a new jock strap for his fabulous photo blog!!

Bek said...

I just want to publicly acknowledge that I am the one feeding Phoebe's princess addiction. My own little girl has moved on to things like Dora and those slutty little Bratz (mom, can I have a Bratz doll? NO!! Mom, can I have a Bratz lunchbox? No! Mom, can I have a Braz...NO NO NO) Her best excuse is "but Mom, I know they are immodest, but its just fashion. Shees. Anyway, now when I see something Diseny I just have to buy it and Phoebe is the closest addicts. A little doll? Ok. Dress ups? Why not? Shoes and wigs....hmmmm? Sorry Lisa but until I get another girl it is going to happen.

This year I wanted Lauren to be what was termed a "pretty witch". It was a costume that was technically a witch, but had pretty tights and ballet shoes, it also had a pretty hat, etc. Nope. We are at the end of mommy getting to choose.

My favorite outfit was from a few years ago. I have a Halloween party every year so I have seen my share. My friends Brandon and Alisha came as Duck Hunters and their baby sage was a duck. Classic. :-)

L-I sent you an itinerary, are the times ok? R

~j. said...

Bek - thank you for your clothes addiction in general. :) Love, me & Jen Galan

Emma (4) wanted to be Kim Possible. No. We just got back from Costco, and she will be a purple kitty ($9.97). Rae (6) has been asking for a costume that she saw in a catalog which she describes like this: "I want to be that pretty dress girl and wear the dress that shows my shoulders, but wear a sweater over it." Again, No. Her costume is pending. Clara just gets whatever is left over - Blue or a bunny.

abelnap said...

Well, it is never too young to start, I say. Anxiously awaiting news of your Samhain exploits...

Hailey said...

I saw an ebay auction for a "devil princess dress" (who knew?) So I guess that might be appropriate for Phoebe, given her paternity and all.

Brdfrd11 said...

She cried at your make-up job and had to have it wiped off. Hilarious. That was, as the kids say, an LOL moment. Remind me to never let you make me up during one of our girl's nights.

La Yen said...

I was totally the kid who lined up the candy and traded my brother for the nasty stuff. The BEST year for trading was after my brother had unwrapped a Mr. Goodbar, one September afternoon, and had found the back you be covered in little worms (imbedded in the chocolate.) He was turned off mof chocolate for a few months, and I got ALL of his Halloween chocolate for ALL of my smarties and taffy and other crap that should not be given out. What does that say about me, that I still remember that?