Halloween has always been a fun holiday in our family. My mom and dad would decorate our front porch turning it into a kid friendly and spooky exhibit. Amongst these decorations was one that my dad came up with, which he called Mr. Pumpkin. He created this using an old milk can sporting an overcoat and a carved pumpkin as the head topped with a straw hat. This was sat in the corner of the porch in front of a fodder shock that served the dual purpose of looking cool while hiding the speaker. The wires were hidden by fall leaves and spiderwebs working their way into the dining room window where my dad was positioned to see who the little goblins were. Mother would dress up as a "not too scary" Witch and introduce them to Mr Pumpkin. The looks on their faces were priceless when he greeted them by name. (Most of the children were local so my dad knew them). Some were a little hesitant, but most were very intrigued. Mr. Pumpkin would tame the fears of those that were a little scared and had so much fun challenging the ones that were trying to figure him out. This tradition carried on for years and when he made the local paper many more ghost and goblins came to meet Mr. Pumpkin.
Inspired by my parents enthusiasm for the holiday, I have been known to get a bit carried away with my own Halloween decor - sometimes prompting my husband Mark to roll his eyes. What will the neighbors think? One year, my parents joined us for Halloween in Arizona and my Dad and I decided to resurrect Mr. Pumpkin. I would sit next to him and tell him the kids names while my mom greeted them. They loved it.
As these Halloween traditions have evolved, my daughter Emily has started a "Halloween Witches Brew" for my granddaughter, Eloise. A fun-filled scary evening of games, movies and ghoulish treats. Oh yes, and lots of decorations! This year there were 7 girls in attendance. The only requirement for entering is that they wear a witches hat and agree to have fun. She realizes of course that 7 pre-teen girls could become a little wild and crazy all their own, but adding sugar to the mix could turn Glenda the Good Witch into The Wicked Witch of the West very quickly. So, to keep their friendly spirits intact, she serves spaghetti and bread for the main course, hoping there might be less room in their bellies for the inevitable supply of candy to follow. Then, the girls set out on a scavenger hunt to gather all the ingredients for their "Witches Brew" AKA "Friendship Stew":
Cat whiskers (pretzel sticks)
Goblin teeth (candy corn)
Ghost poop (mini marshmallows)
Vampire's blood (hot tamales)
Dead Bugs (chocolate covered raisins)
Cat's eyes (M & M's)
Upon their return, with ingredients acquired, the girl's gather in a circle and take turns adding their items to the cauldron.
"With all our witchy friends so near let's huddle round the cauldron, dears.
Tonight we gather for a spell so that our friendships will be well.
With hands held together and eyes closed tight our voice of spells can take a flight.
Our incantation shoots to stars to carry kindness near and far.
Good friends we'll be, with intentions true for friendly witches are far and few.
To this pot we add our magic brew and make a tasty friendship stew."
Gillamagop! Raagamaroo! Let's make a witches brew!
After playing many fun games and dancing to the Monster Mash, they settle down with their "Witches Brew", (and knowing my daughter, some carrot sticks and fruit) to watch some of their favorite Halloween movies.
Who doesn't appreciate one day of the year when you can turn yourself into anything or anyone and eat lots of candy? Speaking with my Grandson (Miles), I asked, "What do you want to be this year?" Without a moment's hesitation, he replied, "A bush!" Not wanting to stifle a child's imagination, I told him that it was a great idea! I'm not sure where he came up with such an unusual choice of costume, but I am sure Mr. Pumpkin would approve!
Have a fun and safe Halloween!