It's Halloween, the lamps are lit
And round the fire the children sit
Telling ghost tales bit by bit
'Til sister Jane says, "Shush!"
Who's that creeping cross the kitchen floor?I was taught this song in Grade 4 by a very skillful teacher, Mrs. Price. I recall she dimmed the lights in the classroom and added an unexpected sound effect or two! Perhaps that's why the song is etched so clearly in my memory. In those days, there were no costume parades (good thing because I would have hated that) or parties, yet there was no shortage of Hallowe'en themed activities - from art and music to reading, writing and yes even arithmetic. The whole week was haunted with decorations, songs, stories and math problems all featuring ghosts, goblins, witches and jack-o-lanterns. It was fun and a great run up for the big night.
Who's that peeking round the bedroom door?
Who's that SCREECHING like his throat is sore?
It's a GOBLIN!
My preferred characters for Trick or Treating were pirates, gypsies and tramps (no thieves - lol), and the outfits were hobbled together from stuff in the house an hour or so before heading out. The one exception was the very special year my parents bought me a pirate costume. Dad made the eye patch. My Mom was not a seamstress, but she did know a thing or two about makeup. There was an awful lot she could do with a burnt cork, baby powder and red lipstick. She also had that big jar of cold cream for getting all the stuff off afterwards.
|Yours truly - Hallowe'en 1960|
Beyond the orange and black wrapped molasses candies, apples, peanuts in the shell and packages of sunflower seeds, many of the treats were homemade and every kid knew which house in the neighbourhood had the best ones.
For years, our house was #1.
My mother's speciality at Halloween, at any time actually, was conjured up in the kitchen. She made popcorn balls - rounds of white popcorn held together by molasses syrup boiled to the hard crack stage. With buttered hands, so the hot syrup didn't stick, Mom quickly assembled the hardball sized treats. The hot syrup always burned her hands no matter how fast she worked.
Gone now are such delectables, even the apples and peanuts are absent from the treat bag. We've all had to buy into the commercial brands. There will be zombies and vampires out tonight but very few pirates and tramps. And it's been a very long time since I've heard anyone utter my childhood chant, "Shell out! Shell out! The witches are out!"
But pumpkin carving remains a serious business in this house.
The 2016 edition unfolded this way yesterday:
Bloody, serious business...
But worth it...
There truly is nothing like a Hallowe'en in Canada! Costumes have to be both fashionable and endurable. They have to fit over snow suits and galoshes. They have to maintain their integrity in some of the wildest winds and torrential rains. Past years have brought rain and wind, cold and snow, and on occasion, even a balmy evening. According to the latest weather forecast, this night of the Great Pumpkin will be chilly (3C, 37F) but mainly clear - a mitts and snowsuits kind of night.
Our tennis pro, Sophie is at the ready to thwhack away anything that goes bump in the night.
Be safe out there, and have a "Spook-tacular" time.
©2016 April Hoeller