There’s no way around it, Halloween is always crazy for us. It’s Mel’s favorite holiday of the year. As a pagan, she feels the same way about Halloween that most Christians feel about Christmas. We actually own more Halloween decorations than Yule or Christmas decorations.
Typically, we have a group over to help us carve a dozen or so pumpkins the night before Halloween. I’m not talking about crudely carved pumpkins here, we do the fancy Pumpkin Masters patterns. Mel has every pattern book they ever published and a ton of their carving tools. She makes her famous vegetable chowder (the most fattening stuff on the planet) and we play Halloween videos while carving. Last year she came up with the brilliant plan to gut and wash all the pumpkins in advance so that all the pumpkins are prepped and ready to go before our carving help arrives. This task gets done outside to minimize mess and because Mel wants to prevent people (me, mostly) from attempting roast pumpkin seeds and adding to the chaos of the evening. She figures if she throws the seeds away while I’m at work and before anyone else gets there, she’s safe.
On Halloween itself we decorate the yard and prepare for the trick-or-treaters. We live in one of the few desirable neighborhoods left in the city and lots of people bring their kids to this area from other parts of the city to trick-or-treat. On top of that, our neighborhood community association hosts its annual Halloween party at the church across the street from my house. Last year, 600 kids attended the party. After the party the kids go begging in the neighborhood. Guess whose house gets hit first? We actually have to recruit our tenants and friends to help with traffic control; since we don’t want our decorations to get trampled we only let two or three kids into the yard at a time. Last year we gave out about $75 worth of candy.
Two years ago we decorated the yard and the garage, and then had a party after the trick-or-treating was done. It added significantly to the work – additional decorating, grocery shopping, food to be prepared, beverages, etc. The party turned out great but Mel said she wasn’t gonna have another party because it was just too much. She was pretty stressed and exhausted and so was I. So, last year we didn’t have a party. A few friends came over to help with traffic control and beer consumption but it wasn’t a party. This year we are having a party. Mel decided it. I think by now you’ve gotten the idea she is the ‘Halloween Queen’. I was surprised by this because she was pretty adamant about not doing it again after the last party. At this point we are expecting about 25 people to show up tomorrow night after trick-or-treating is over.
So, how will cut down on the work this year? Well, Mel’s friend Sam kept saying that no one eats at Halloween parties and that we shouldn’t have much, if any, food. Mel agreed with her and I never thought we’d do much more than beverages and some chips, pretzels and Halloween candy in bowls. I should have known better. This week Mel has already made two dozen cupcakes (to be decorated like snowy owls) and a large cake (to be decorated like a graveyard, I think). I am slated to make a hot bread dip tomorrow before the party. Sam is bringing roasted red pepper hummus and I know some of our other friends would never show up empty handed.
Last night I made a dozen caramel apples, rolled in nuts and drizzled with chocolate. In the process, I nearly blew up the microwave… I melted some plastic and filled the kitchen with gaseous smoke. I had to open the windows, run down to the basement to grab a fan for exhaust and then relocate the bird to another part of the house so that the fumes wouldn’t kill him. This all happened after I dumped a mess of chopped almonds on the floor and before an entire container of tiny dog treats slipped out of my hands. Fortunately, the dogs cleaned up the almonds for me because I was in the middle of dipping apples and couldn’t stop. The dog treats landed mostly on the counter, close to – but not on – the caramel apples, so I was able to put them back into the container.
Another work cutting measure is that we are not decorating the front yard this year. Supposedly. Originally the forecast was for rain and snow today, more of the same tomorrow. Right now, it’s a beautiful, sunny day outside. The updated forecast for tomorrow is “cloudy” with rain not arriving until Friday. If it’s nice tomorrow, I’m gonna bet the front yard gets decorated. It’ll get decorated even though Mel now swears that Halloween is for us and our friends, not for those brats who ring our bell and shove an open bag in our faces but won’t even say “trick-or-treat” or “thank you.” Still, we have a rep for having one of the cooler Halloween houses in the neighborhood, so I can’t imagine us not upholding that distinction. Yes indeed, we’ll see…