Happy Halloween! I’ve developed a bit of a soft spot for Halloween over the last few years. It was never something we celebrated growing up in the 80s in Kent. My childhood memories of Halloween or Trick or Treat don’t involve dressing up or sweets! Rather, they are a vague recollection of my Mum being a bit irritated by older children and teenagers knocking at our door with eggs and flour to throw on the path if they didn’t get any sweets. We didn’t give out sweets or even open the door as I remember, and they didn’t all make a mess but the next morning on the way to school we’d see the odd patch of flour. So, it was hardly something my sister or I looked forward to. We never dressed up or went Trick or Treating. We watched American movies and were a bit confused about the dressing up in non spooky outfits but that was about it.
Fast forward to my early 20s and I can’t remember being home when anyone called. Fast forward again to being married and we did have knocks at our door but this time they were younger children from our street, dressed up as cute skeletons and witches, with their nice parents hovering in the background reminding them to say ‘Thank you’ and only take one sweet. I found sweets, put them in a bowl and actually enjoyed the night. Pregnant with my first son I remember being told his due date was 23 October and thinking, ‘A bit close to Halloween, it will be all pumpkins and skeletons, not sure I want him to be late and arrive on 31st…’ As it happened he arrived on 27 October, so close but not actually Halloween!
The children in our street got bigger, they started to come Trick or Treating on their own but were still polite and fun. My boys got bigger, a second one had joined the first, this one just missing a Christmas Birthday. They wanted to dress up and so they did and we went off down our street and the children who had stood at our door with their parents now opened the door to my boys and I reminded my own little skeleton and vampire to say thank you and only take one sweet. Circle of Life rather than Day of the Dead.
Then my sister went to live in the States and we visited her and my brother in law at half term and saw crazy and amazing Halloween things like the Pumpkin Patch in Dallas Arboretum. The word patch doesn’t do it justice, more like extravaganza, think of over 10,00 pumpkins and a Cinderella type carriage surrounded by pumpkins, cottages made of pumpkins and you are still only half way there. They have residential streets with life size Halloween decorations on front lawns that would be over the top in any shopping mall here.
I have a great memory of a kind hearted Dallas gentleman, in a purple velvet jacket, rhinestone belt and cowboy boots at two in the afternoon greeting our boys the day before Halloween and asking them if they were coming back for Halloween. When they said, with obvious disappointment ‘No’, and explained they were flying home the next day he asked if they had time to wait a moment, went back inside his house and came back with bags of candy the size of small pillows for them both. The just take one sweet rule didn’t seem apply here. So Halloween, far from being scary or mean has in my experience become marked by kindness and fun. I do think that there is probably slightly too much fake spider web and plastic tat, as my Mum would call it, for sale now in our supermarkets but you know what, you don’t have to buy any of it. You can just dress up and have fun meeting your neighbours.
If you need a spooky dessert this week then why not have a go at making these spooky Halloween Ice Cream Eyes. They are easy to make but eat them quickly or they become ice cream puddles! A top tip is to make them one at a time, scoop your ice cream, add the red streaks of icing and sweets and then pop the eyeballs back in the freezer until you want to eat them. I tried to make six in one go and the first lot had begun to melt by the time I was finishing off the last lot! You could also ditch the sweets for rings of kiwi fruit and blueberries if you want a healthier option.
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