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Thursday, October 27, 2016

The smell of Halloween...

I walked outside this evening and was instantly transported back in time to a world of magic. When I was a little girl, fall was my favorite time of year (who am I kidding, it's still my favorite time of year).

The air smells fresh and crisp, but the underlying hint of smoke from chimneys and leaves burning give it a special flavor. The sky darkens earlier each day, the sunset glowing with reds, oranges and yellows.  Squirrels rustle through the fallen leaves, searching for the nuts that will fill their larder, keeping them through the winter. The fog settles in, bringing a heavy dew that weighs down the spider webs hanging between cornstalks, fading from summer green to autumn gold. Halloween decorations start appearing, piles of pumpkins beckon from the store-fronts and candy aisles are stocked to overflowing.   One evening my mom would make popcorn in the frying pan on the stove and pour a candy sauce over it. We'd slather our hands with margarine to try to avoid burning our hands as we began the task of trying to form popcorn balls before the candy hardened.  The wax-paper waxed balls would be piled in the largest glass Pyrex mixing bowl we had.  When we got the opportunity to eat one, the sticky, candy-covered bits of popcorn would stick to our teeth.

My birthday is a few days before Halloween. That always seemed to make Halloween be a part of my special day.  Because my friends and family know how much I love this holiday, often times my gifts have a part of Halloween in them, from candles to socks to jewelry (I still have the pumpkin earrings my daughters got me so long ago. I wear them every year.) One year there was a Halloween party at a local watering hole on my birthday. I can't tell you how much fun it was to dress up on my birthday for Halloween.

When I was a little girl, if Halloween was on a week day, we'd have a "party" in our classroom. We wore our costumes, ate homemade cupcakes topped with candy corn and plastic spiders and let the excitement build for the evening's adventures. Most costumes were homemade or if they were store bought, they had plastic masks that you couldn't see through or breath in. Mom would load us up in the car and we'd head out trick-or-treating.  We lived out of town, in the woods, with no neighborhoods within walking distance, so Mom would load us up in the car to go trick-or-treating. We always went to the trailer park down the road.  Mom would drop us off at one end (if it wasn't pouring down rain) and we'd go door to door, running from one porch to the next, taking shortcuts through yards, tripping over yard decorations that we couldn't see in the dark. If it was raining (95% of the time it was), we'd climb back into the car soaking wet, trying to dry off before the next group of houses. Every year we'd go to Mrs. Andreif's house. Walking down the center of her long, dark driveway, dodging the branches of the trees that seemed to be trying to grab at us and pull us into their lair.  We'd knock on the door, she would "ooo and ahhh" over our costumes and we'd go inside for a visit.  We'd get a popcorn ball, an apple and a super-big homemade cookie.  No worries about razor blades in those days.  We'd drive to town, not to go do more trick-or-treating, but to go to Aunt Fannie's house.  She had been our babysitter for years and years and Mom always made sure she got to see us in our costumes. We'd head home, empty our bags and check out what we got.  We'd be allowed one or two pieces of candy and the rest would go up on top of the refrigerator to be doled out a little at a time.  We'd crawl into bed, with remnants of our costume makeup still on our faces.  In my mind, it was magical.

When my kids were old enough, I started having Halloween parties.  I would decorate around the house, but if the weather was nice, we'd be outside. We'd bob for apples, dress up in costumes and play games.  One time a mom was concerned and asked me about if I did anything demonic during the parties.  I almost said "well, if you don't count the goat sacrifice, no..." I mean, these were 1-5 grade kids.  We were the parents that took all the kids' friends trick or treating because we let them go for as long as they wanted.  We walked up and down streets in all sorts of weather, the kid's bags dragging the ground from the weight of the goodies.

Now that the kids are all grown up, I watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" all by myself.  I watch Hocus Pocus almost daily through the month of October (because of course...) I do some decorating, though not as much as I used to.

I wish I could bottle the scent of fall, of Halloween, of the harvest, leaves, first rainfall and all that goes with autumn and spray it whenever I needed that feeling of comfort.

It's my time of year...

Wishing you Hope, Joy & Faith

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