Forget the tricks and costumes on Halloween night – we were at home and having fun. I recall many blustery Halloween evenings and being thankful that I was not dashing from door to door, shivering in tights and a thin costume. Instead, we were toasty warm by the woodstove and enjoying our own October 31 family traditions.
Halloween evening began with completing our homework and supper dishes. Then Mom would fetch a huge, antique basin from storage and drop in an apple for each of us. We eagerly plopped down on the kitchen floor and giggled as we discussed who would bob first. Water ran from our nostrils as we submerged our faces in an attempt to sink our teeth into a golden delicious apple. The kitchen floor was usually drenched by the time we were done but old towels were within reach.
Caramel apples were also a special treat reserved for the end of October. We dipped and twisted apples in hot caramel and then rolled them in crushed peanuts. Their sticky sweetness dripped from our fingers and chins as we savoured this autumn treat.
Carving pumpkins was also a Halloween tradition in our home. It was often challenging because the pumpkins had thick skins and we were equipped with dull knives. I loved to squish the soft pulp and seeds in my hand and see it ooze between my fingers. Eventually, we managed to carve some facial features and then it was time to place them outdoors on display. We fetched candles and books of matches in an attempt to make our pumpkins glow. The wind usually extinguished our flame before it even connected with the wick of the candle. One time we used thick pillar candles but when smoke billowed from our pumpkins and their interiors turned black, we knew it wasn’t the best idea.
Small orange UNICEF boxes were associated with Halloween. They were distributed at school and students were encouraged to ask for donations while trick-or-treating. Since we usually spent the evening at home, we contributed to this cause ourselves by selecting coins from our piggy banks.
Now as a parent, I am faced with the challenge of creating and cultivating our own Halloween family traditions. Someday, I’d love to make homemade doughnuts over an open fire while my children sip hot apple cider. Maybe we will reverse the asking-for-treats tradition and deliver small jars of homemade jam to neighbours that evening. Another idea is to pull the children in hay-filled wagons under the harvest moon. Our kids will probably have suggestions of their own, and traditions will be created with time.
Children are the best connoisseurs when it comes to family traditions. What’s precious to them has no price – only value.
– Sheila Braun writes from Landmark, Manitoba