Let me just start by saying that I love to throw a party. And when the kids were little, Halloween was such a fun excuse to host another party! We moved around with the military, so we had new places to explore all the time. And so many friends to hang out with!
But it didn’t start out like that.
Our first Halloween with kids (one, to be precise) was in Anderson Mill, outside Austin, Texas. Michael had the cutest little Ghostbuster Onesie. Ron had to work 3-11, so I was on my own. But he fell asleep early that evening, and slept through Halloween. I gave out candy to the few trick-or-treaters that stopped by, grabbed a glass of wine and then polished off the candy!
We saved that Ghostbuster PJ costume for each of the others to wear too. Here’s a picture of Alyssa wearing it when we were in San Antonio. This was also the year that the base was shut down to non-emergency traffic from 6-8 p.m. Kids roamed the streets like we were back in the 1950′s or 60′s! The MPs (military police) were all on foot playing with the trick-or-treaters, guessing costumes, etc. They were mainly in their early to mid-20′s themselves, so it was one big party. Katie spent most of her time wildly chasing cats, while Michael ran from house to house not wanting to miss a single one, and Alyssa dozed in the stroller.
But let me back track a little bit to 1990. Everything about Halloween excited Michael this time. The flame in the pumpkin, candy that was his size, and mostly the trick-or-treaters. Every time the doorbell rang, he’d yell “KIDS!” and burst out laughing. He’d sit on the stairs with the bowl of candy and wait for them, watching out the glass door. Ron took him to a few neighbors houses in his batman costume, but he really just wanted to go home and wait for the KIDS! (Yes, that is a GIANT knot on his forehead. If ever something would be referred to as “a goose-egg,” that was it. That morning he had run as fast as he could unaware of a couple of steps down to a lower level. Splat. Nothing like leading with your face!)
The following year was Katie’sfirst Halloween. She still considers Halloween to be her favorite holiday. But not a big surprise, she is an actress, she loves costumes – a pretty predictable connection. But her FIRST Halloween wasn’t that great. She was too tall for the Ghostbuster Onesie we had saved for her, so she had a last minute clown PJ costume. AND, she had a bad cold. That meant she stayed home with me, and Ron took Michael, the Kangaroo, trick or treating.
The following year, still in North Carolina, it rained. And it was cold. AND we had moved out of our little neighborhood, so houses were not that close and convenient for trick-or-treating. So we opted to take the kids to the local shopping mall in Greensboro. The stores were all giving out candy to kids in costume, so our ghost and ballerina were happy.
After that though, Halloween took a big turn for the better. The kids were really into pumpkin-carving, so we often got together with other families to do this. Everyone brought their pumpkins and we shared tools and skills. I think in the beginning, they just loved the mess. But then they started caring what the Jack O’Lantern looked like. Their carving skills improved. As they got older, they’d spend time scouring magazines for cool Halloween recipes to fix for these parties. Ding Dongs with Pretzel sticks turned into spiders. Dried beets turned into shrunken witches heads. Lady finger tombstones and chocolate kisses witches hats were all the rage.
The parties that took place ON Halloween often started with hot dogs and macaroni. The point was to keep all that candy from landing in an empty stomach. We’d trick or treat together as a group, and then come back for the big candy swap.
Our first Halloween in Alaska was a snowy one. We lived in Eagle River. We had friends over in the evening, but the kids were all pooping out as they trudged through really deep snow in costume. That will wear you out! It was so chaotic, I didn’t even get pictures of them until AFTER trick-or-treating. I think they maybe made it around 2 blocks. We were never so happy to get home to our warm fire – that, yes, we left blazing while we were out.
The following two Alaskan Halloweens were on Elmendorf AFB. Lots of friends joined us because it was a Trick-or-Treating MECCA! The houses were SO close together, and they were duplexes. AND, very few families were opting out of participating. The dads would pull sleds for the little ones to ride in. Costumes were often worn OVER their snowsuits. And then we’d all come back to the house, spread the candy out all over the floor of the basement, and begin negotiating for favorites and making trades. That was so fun!
We moved to California after that, and went on hay rides through pumpkin patches and apple orchard tours. We went to Halloween parties and did Halloween crafts. We went to something called a Halloween Make and Take with the Davis homeschoolers. Each family brought supplies for a particular Halloween craft, and the kids would go from table to table making all kinds of things. That group had so many cool things going on. We loved those Make and Takes!
We also hosted some fun parties with dry ice and fun foods. These were the years we really started to get into making these Halloween crafty foods. And, it was the beginning of the Harry Potter era. So that factored into a lot of our parties and costumes.
In Wichita Falls, it was reversed. WE lived in the country and we needed our base friends or neighborhood friends to let us come trick-or-treat with them. So that’s when we hosted Pumpkin-carving parties the week before Halloween, and descended on THEM for the Trick-or-treating. One year, the Holiday Inn hosted a trick-or-treating event. Businesses signed up for different rooms on the first floor. They’d either give out candy or set up a Haunted House area. Our friends were Papa John’s Pizza people, so we were happily hanging out with them. No need for hot dogs and macaroni THAT year!
We had so many fun creative costumes over the years. And I loved making Halloween shirts for the kids, just for fun. Sadly, all of it was before digital cameras. That means I have to scan them all. I’m not really sure what I’ll do with them, but I’ll think of something. Maybe next year, I’ll be posting slideshows of the pictures! Or telling you about Halloweens when they were teenagers!
But for now, it’s a little like déjà vu with that first Halloween. Kind of. Only this time, Ron’s the one who has fallen asleep early, and I’m back to sipping wine and eating leftover Halloween candy. I hope everybody had lots of fun tonight.
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