Thursday, November 01, 2007

That "Hallows" time of year.

Pumpkin Moonshine!

In our home Halloween (Hallow’een or All Hallow’s eve) has always been marked with family and friends surrounding us, in a big way!

Our children have always loved to dress up and have fun, imaginative play. We don’t need a special occasion for this activity, anytime is a good time as I’ve written about before both HERE and HERE about our trickle trunk of dress up clothing.

Dressing up in this house
is quite normal.

Need a costume?
We probably have it.

Growing up, this was the day my brother Paul (see here) looked forward to every year, for this day marks his birthday. Imagine, having a child born on Halloween, and another (moi) born on Christmas Day! Yes, we were a festive family bunch at home, yet this sibling and I both learned something the others did not. We became used to everyone remembering what the occasion was, and basic humility became the norm, our birthdays no big deal to us as time passed, and our own children grew, preferring to think of these days in their own motivated, and goodie-filled ways. They were delightfully cherished memories for them too, those child-centered moments growing up. My brother’s children, once older began to decorate their yard as a surprise for their father’s return home on Halloween evening, and loved every second of dressing up together. Happy Birthday Paul!

In our own home, we have spent the past fifteen or more years with a large (often very large!) group of family/friends pulling off or attending parties together. The children for the most part have celebrated the feast day of “All Saints Eve” more than Halloween, as we know it, just a twist to it by dressing as their favorite saint, Bible character, or something else if it was a theme night.

Initially it began as a most humble endeavor, after an invitation came to gather with five other families. Parents were wrapped as mummies, but wholesome kid fun was at the helm with goodie bags for all when departing the fun and games.

Hanging around...

The next year we were invited to partake in an All Saints party at a church with other families we knew. Who was more excited about the candy booty at the end, our teens for being the helpers gifted with enormous brown bags filled with the stuff, or the younger children with theirs?

Wanting to continue the fun, more humble beginnings began and continued for a long, long time….

During these years the parents rolled up their sleeves, and for the most part knew the agenda we’d all rolled into our memories. So like-minded were we all, we knew just what to do to make the evening a success, and how we would cope with the exhaustion we’d all feel at the end of the night…laugh. Many times the children’s grandparents would pop in, or help out in the course of the night, but who was having more fun we wondered, the children or the grandparents?

Usually the evening began with families arriving at the venue location just after 5:00pm. After a work day, we found it humorous how there were mostly men volunteering in the kitchen, cooking up the evening’s dinner for all to enjoy, something simple usually like hotdogs and all the trimmings (we had long outgrown our homes by this time too as other families were invited to join in the fun!).

All of the parents attending knew this would be an evening for parent participation, the teens happily racing up to begin taking over the babies.

The men would usher in the start of the evening firstly by all gathering everyone outside once the moment was at hand, and since we most often wanted to commemorate this day to an “All Saints” theme, they opened in a prayer for a safe evening, followed by each child given a lit sparkler in hand, and soon after, all began marching around like a parade, singing in their loud and happy voices to the tune of, “When the Saints, go marching in” .

The fun games were much like a huge carnival atmosphere, you name it we had it! Tickets could be gained to earn something special on the (donated) prize table before retiring at the end of the evening.

After a few hours, the children were summoned to gather together, one at a time standing on a table for all to guess, “Who they were”. Once their tickets were handed in and prizes chosen at the end of the night, meals complete and kitchen cleaned up again, it was time to gather one more time where we would wrap up the evening with a prayer for a blessed evening, a safe journey home, thanksgiving of special friends and family, and all joined in a final prayer for all our faithfully departed loved ones.

A few years after it all began,
this little gal is old enough
to enjoy this particular year.

The grand finale, if the weather co-operated, was a small fireworks display with monies collected from a donation ahead of time. The children went home with a booty of candy from the games they played (yes they earned THAT as well as tickets).

Soon afterwards, all the families would congratulate and thank one another for making yet, another memory with one another. Dental appointments were wisely made ahead of time within the weeks soon afterwards, saving the day for all those teeth and all that junk of the night. Laugh

Auntie and Niece

Auntie and Nieces

Moreover, this is what we did for all these years… It was our family tradition to observe this day in such a way as this!

Two years ago when my hubby was transferred, he left on Oct. 31 for his new posting. As though flattened emotionally with what was to come, I had opted out of the evening festivities and preferred to just stay at home, for the first time in as many years. Our neighborhood was tight and close, and all knew we were partying well this evening over the years, saving candy ourselves for our special little friends in the area, mostly so they didn’t miss out with us abandoning them this night. Two years ago, we stayed home and decided to see what was happening while we were gone. Yes, we played games all day long as usual, mostly mimicking the events of the past and candy was at hand for winners. This night however, one son decided to dress up as a scarecrow and sit on our front porch to see the reactions of the children coming towards the door. He managed to scare more mothers than children, and all was great fun this night once the neighbor children began hiding to see what would happen with the next round of visitors.

Once we moved here last year, we continued the game day, a bit of dressing up but we stayed home and enjoyed a most serene evening, one neighbor popping by. We had candy for 100 just in case, so our children were delighted with “left-overs”. You can read about our first year HERE.

This year, not living in an area to begin something the children hadn’t ever participated in, we had a family date to attend our son’s hockey game in the evening. The younger two wanted to dress up, which was fine. My husband left early to get our older son a quick haircut first at the mall in the area he’d be playing at, and it was then he called to let me know the mall was doing something for the first time, mostly to celebrate children and a fun evening in the community. Every store was participating in handing out candy to well dressed, costumed children, and when I had to slip in anyway to buy something; our two younger children were over the moon with the booty they hadn’t been expecting. The older daughter with me was thrilled just the same without the candy booty, but waltzed out with two pairs of pants and one shirt on sale during the sidewalk sale in progress at the same location.

Off to a dinner evening together from there, followed by the hockey game. The day ended on a great note, surprises along the way left smiles on faces for their dreamiest sleeps, and what a day it was!

The piano teacher asked if we could be flexible and have all four children’s lessons during the afternoon. Of course with the dog walking, pumpkin moonshine carving, completing schooling for the day, it was already after 5pm. when my hubby headed off for the haircut. Where did the day go? Why was it already suppertime? Woosh!

As mentioned, I spent some time with the younger ones carving their little pumpkins, but when they discovered making temporary faces to carve with washable felt pens first, once the carving was complete, they chose to decorate them with attention to details on eyes, ears, and hair.

Those little pumpkin moonshines were carved and today when darkness falls, we will light a candle for all the saints in heaven in the company of Jesus to commemorate “All Saints Day”.

And as for next year, we already have four other families who want to gather for a fun night together, so we'll see.

All Saints Day

All Saints Day is also known as All Hallows, thus All Hallow’s eve for Halloween. “Hallows” means saints, and “mas” means “Mass”. This day is traditionally celebrated on November 1st or on the first Sunday after Pentecost in honor of all the saints, known and unknown.

All Saints is also a Christian formula feast day invoking all the faithful saints and martyrs, known or unknown.

Happy All Saints Day!