In my family Halloween is a pretty big deal...
I’d almost go as far as saying that it’s bigger than Christmas - but as my family are absolute nutcases when it comes to Christmas it’s impossible quantify which is the larger holiday. This year we’re celebrating a little early due to my little nephews who are aged 20 months and 6 months, as well as our need to be responsible adults and ‘party’ on the weekend.
Now CLEARLY - the kids are a little too young to have any idea what is going on. However, that will do nothing to slow the roll of my very excitable sisters and their planning for the big event. The big event in question is ‘The Halloween Party’ scheduled for this Sunday - I must say I am very excited! My elder (incredibly creative) sister has been planning this party for her son for months - and dreaming about throwing him a Halloween party since before he was born. My younger (and fashion forward) sister has been planning her infant sons costume for as long and has even had a full dress rehearsal with him to be perfect on the day.
As children our parents went above and beyond to throw the most incredible events for us that we have amazing memories of. It was never about throwing money at the occasion but more about creating little details that made the day filled with fun and a touch of magic. Our Dad was probably the main instigator of all things Halloween. He was an incredibly artistic man and threw himself into creating amazing costumes, carving incredible pumpkins and cooking us elaborate Halloween meals (specifically a dish called ‘bats in blood’ which was a complicated dish of burnt toast cut into the shape of bats floating on a bowl on tomato soup!).
I remember a particular witch costume he created for me to attend a friends birthday party - which fell on Halloween and as such was entirely planned around the spooky theme. He diligently ‘roughed up’ bits of old school uniform, tearing the stitching on too-small shoes to create floppy witch boots, collected twigs from the garden to make me a realistic broomstick complete with an attached white cat cuddly toy ‘pet’ along for the ride. The costume was EPIC and I was very excited to trundle off to the party - along with my carved pumpkin which was to be entered into a competition. Now this pumpkin, wasn’t just any pumpkin. This had also been carved by my very talented father to depict a witch on a broomstick gliding through the swirling clouds in front of a full moon. I imagine it very unlikely that anyone would have believed this to have been created by an 8 year old. He worked so hard on it all and I think he really enjoyed getting immersed in the magic of his creation. I attended the party, enjoyed some musical bumps, musical statues and apple bobbing and won a game of musical chairs. This was an all time party high - I’d never won anything and already had an overly dramatic and resolutely ‘middle child’ frame of mind regarding my ability to achieve anything in life. And so came the time to judge the costumes and pumpkin carving competitions. In order to give an air of fairness to the judging a late arriving uncle of the birthday girl was called upon to select a winner from each category - and I won both!
I can still remember the feeling of arriving home to my siblings and cousins, so happy that I had an armful of prizes to share with them. Piling on the sofa together as we ate jelly worms and marshmallow ghosts from a ‘book of spells’ sweetie collection and everyone trying out my witches hat and taking my broomstick for a whirl around velvet upholstered living room. The feeling of happiness, warmth and family connection that this memory fills me with makes it one of my fondest and strongest childhood memories.
And that is how my Dad taught me just how magical a can of soup, some burnt toast and a pair of old school shoes can be.