Friday, November 1, 2013

Ah, Halloween

Halloween wasn't HUGE at my house growing up. We did hang some Halloween cardboard cutouts in our window - not this, but something like this:

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And we did love carving pumpkins. Every year we proudly drew a face on our very own pumpkin, then either carved it ourselves or let Dad do it...probably Dad did most of them. We waited excitedly for everyone to finish so that we could turn out the lights for the dramatic illumination. Every year we took a picture of our pumpkins lined up and glowing on the kitchen table.

Costumes were homemade and probably caused my mother no end of stress as she tried to come up with a way to meet the demands of our imaginations. She did a remarkably good job! As I got older I loved being responsible for the face paint. There were many years when I drew a huge Y over the eyes, nose and mouth of my younger brothers so they could be epic BYU fans.

We would meet my best friend from the other side of the block and go around the neighborhood trick-or-treating. Then my brothers and I would spend days doing complex candy auctions, trading candy like it was the stock market.

My freshman year of college, my roommates and I dressed up in simple, "find-things-around-the-apartment" costumes (I donned my ski gear and became a "skiier"). My apartment joined with one of the guy apartments across the way and we went pumpkin caroling (by replacing Christmas carol lyrics with Halloween-themed lyrics and singing door-to-door) in a local neighborhood. Ok, so maybe it was a little embarrassing, but we were freshman in college and we had a blast. Lots of families loved it and we came away with a bit of candy ourselves, even though we weren't officially trick-or-treating.

So maybe Halloween wasn't a huge deal, but it was definitely something we enjoyed every year and it was always a day filled with family and friends. Maybe that's why I felt a definite sense of let-down on Halloween the first year Dave and I were married. No one would be trick-or-treating to our childless apartment complex and we didn't have any way to celebrate. In Arizona, we spent Halloween with our best friends - from that same pumpkin caroling group of freshmen - and their children, who were old enough to dress up and trick-or-treat and be excited about the holiday. This year...

This year we had our own child! It took me until October 30th to realize it, but once I did I felt a strange kind of happiness. Maybe I could start reviving some of that childhood Halloween magic.

I started by making "Dinner in a Pumpkin," something my mom made for us every Halloween before we went trick-or-treating. You add hamburger, rice, water chestnuts (and I added chopped almonds) and seasonings to the hollowed-out inside of a pumpkin. Then, the directions clearly state to "paint an appropriate face on the front of the pumpkin with a permanent marking pen":


 I called Dave and asked him to pick up a pumpkin for us to carve on his way home from work (because really, I hadn't even thought that far). Poor Madelyn has had a miserable week (ear and eye infections on both sides, plus a molar coming in) but she was pretty intrigued by our pumpkin. She loved feeling the slimy insides with her fingers and insisted on sticking her foot into the bowl filled with pumpkin guts. As parents, we try to enable our child's curiosity but poor Madelyn burst into tears as soon as her foot touched the cold, slimy, stringy mess. At least she learned for herself?


We like friendly more than scary... the first annual glowing pumpkin photo

A common Madelyn face this week

 We struggled to come up with a family costume idea (last year it was garden gnomes, two years ago we were Angry Birds) - the best I could come up with was Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato (Madelyn would have made a darling tomato, but I probably would have been a hideous lettuce). So we combed Grandma's costume box and made Madelyn an adorable ladybug. Surprisingly, Madelyn loved her costume, especially after seeing herself in the mirror. She wore it happily all night.



Working on her walking


2nd cousins appraising each other down the hallway