For those of you who grew up in the 90's, I know you are wanting to shout "Tool Time" right about now... but the real answer is that it is almost time for my most favorite holiday of the year; Halloween! (this is a long post... you have been warned!)
Ever since I was a baby, Halloween has been my favorite. There is a picture of me, circa 1979, about 1 1/2yrs old, smiling and hugging a pumpkin atop of my parent's kitchen table. My mom and dad could not keep me away from the pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, decorations, costumes or any story books with witches on them (my FAVORITE story was called the The Candy Witch!).
I grew up patiently tolerating the other holidays, even Christmas, which is my second favorite, only because of all of the lights and fun traditions, but always eagerly anticipated the beginning of fall, because I knew that the decorations and Halloween traditions would soon be following. I loved helping my daddy rake the leaves in the yard. He would pile them as big as he could, and I would jump and play and just take in the smells of them! When daddy would set the pile on fire, I would watch the flames dance and was fascinated by the orange glow of the fire and the white ash that would dance and fall to the ground. And the smell of a leaf pile; it was like nothing else!
The air would start to crisp, and my mom would start making my Halloween costume. You read that correctly, she would MAKE my costumes! Amazing, hand-sewn costumes. My favorite was when my best friend, Nick, and I were made City Mouse & Country Mouse costumes! They were so adorable. Even though I was jealous of those plastic K-Mart costumes that the other kids would wear to school, I knew that what I had was special, even then.
On the subject of school, when I was a kid in the 80's, we got to have amazing Halloween's at school. Even if Halloween itself fell on a weekend, the entire school would celebrate the Friday before. There would be room parties, costumes, and best of all the costume parade. Each classroom would take a turn walking through all of the other classrooms, showing off our costumes. Our teacher's would even partake in the parade, my favorite teacher, Mr. Moncrief, dressed up as 'The Duke" (John Wayne for those of you who don't know who that is). We would have an entire day of fun, even the school buses would let us decorate their interiors for the holiday. It was magical.
After school got out, we would go home, still buzzed on our party cupcakes and parade candy, and get ready to go trick-or-treating! When I was in grade school, mom would take me to the hospital she worked at, where I would parade myself to the nurses station and even visit some of the patients whom my mom knew could use some cheering up with a dose of nostalgia. We would then go to the nursing home that was connected to the hospital, and the sweet, little old patients would be lined up and down the hallways, some in wheelchairs, some in their beds, some with candy and all with smiles, would wait for us to visit them, smile at them, and tell them 'Happy Halloween!'. We then would get my candy x-rayed (this is a long story, and only children from the 80's will understand this), and I would head home. When I was older, the neighborhood kids and I would all go trick-or-treating together. This was back in the 80's when kids could be kids. We would take ourselves to as many houses as we could, and would take our collected loot back to someone's house and work out deals for obtaining the candy we really wanted from each other.
I remember going to the apple orchards and the pumpkin patches, and searching for the perfect pumpkins for carving. Dad was my favorite person to carve my pumpkins with. He would always tease me with the guts, and would let me use the knife while he supervised me. Mom would always draw the faces on the pumpkins for me, because she was a really good artist. We would put a candle in the pumpkin, and mom would sit it on the living room table and turn all of the lights out, and I would bask in the glory of how magical that jack-o-lantern was. I always hated that they only lasted for a few days, and then had to be put into the burn pile.
As I got older, I think most people assumed that the thrill of Halloween would fade out for me. They couldn't have been more wrong! I still bought my pumpkins, I carved as many as I could and would even sprinkle pumpkin pie seasoning on the lids before lighting them, so they smelled amazing while burning vs like burnt pumpkins! I still either bought or made myself costumes, and discovered that others loved Halloween as much as I did, and would celebrate with me! I fell in love with scary movies, haunted houses and collecting decor. The very first Halloween that I got to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters was one of my most favorite memories as an adult! I loved it, and was quickly known as the "Halloween lady" by the local kiddos!
Now, in my mid 40's, this enjoyment has not vanished. I am very blessed that I have a husband who understands the joy this holiday brings me, and allows me to tickle my fancy by putting decorations up as early as September! There may even always be one or two items that stay up year-round. I still dress up for Halloween and go to costume parties, and sometimes I even parade around so everyone can see my costume! I have taught other's the joy of the holiday, and have coordinated events for children several times over the years that involve turning my joy of creating jack-o-lanterns into a contest, then donating them to the local pediatric inpatient units as a way to cheer them up during a scary and sad time.
As a cookier, this passion has been super exciting to convey into my cookies! I love getting to put my love for Halloween into my cookies. Knowing that they will bring the same joy to someone as they brought to me to create, is unlike a feeling I have ever felt before. So tonight, and what started this story, as my husband and I were walking around Menards (his happy place), I saw that they had their Halloween decorations up and I of course HAD to look around. I ended up finding two adorable vintage themed characters that got to come home with us and become a part of my collection. They are the first items out for the season, and have sparked an early desire for me to get out the rest of my decorations out!
So after reading this, which one of you would like to be the first to order your Halloween cookies from me?! The first reader to reserve a Halloween order will get a 'mystery box' item included with their cookies! Anyone who orders my cookies will know that I put love into all of my designs and orders, but now you know that anyone who orders Halloween or fall cookies, gets my passion for the season in them as well!