Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hey-ho! Halloween's here!

It's that time of year -- one of my two favorite holidays (with Christmas being the other) is nearing 'round the corner.  With tricks & treats, witches & pumpkins, falling leaves & cozy-smelling candles, Halloween will be here in a little over a week.  And I can't be more excited for it.  Growing up in the middle of farm country in Iowa, October always meant three things...  National Fire Prevention week, Mom's rolled-out frosted sugar cookies, and Halloween!

Did you know that National Fire Prevention week is in October?  I do!  When I was growing up, National Fire Prevention week was always a big deal.  It meant that our local volunteer firefighters would come in their turnout gear and we all got to ride on the firetrucks around our little town.  Our class also got to draw posters to be entered into a contest.  The posters were posted at the firehouse later in the week, with the winners in each group having blue ribbons on them.  I won one year with my "Don't you carrot all?  Prevent forest fires" (a sad bunny rabbit with a fire going on one side and a happy rabbit with a fire that was put out on the other).  The posters were displayed in our local firehouse for all the locals to see at the Pow-Wow that took place on Friday night.  The Pow-Wow was a HUGE event for me.  Looking back now, it seems kind of lame -- but as a kid, it was magical.  The Pow-Wow was an event hosted by the local firefighters with bingo all night (until 9 or 10) and then a dance after that for the adults (which I never did attend).  Bingo was played by maybe a hundred or so people.  We had the old-time bingo cards that had sunk-in squares for each of the numbers.  You would use dried shucked corn as your number-markers, which most ended up on the floor of the firehouse by the end of the evening.  The local firefighters would be walking around to call out the cards to the lucky ones that yelled out Bingo.  It always ended with a black-out (where you had to fill your entire card) with a prize of $100.  And there was always popcorn.  I don't think that I ever won anything for all the times that I played and all the bingo games they called.  But there was something special about those Pow-Wows...

In my elementary classes, there were three holiday parties: Halloween, Christmas, & Valentine's Day.  I ALWAYS picked Halloween and I ALWAYS said that I would bring frosted sugar cookies.  Looking back, I didn't do anything to make these cookies and my mom deserves all the credit.  She would make the cookies, bake the cookies and ended up frosting most of the cookies when my brother and I had long grew bored and gave up decorating.  But, man did I love those sugar cookies...  She would only make them on three occasions -- Halloween, Christmas & Valentine's Day, so I could have brought them to any of my school holiday parties.  But there was something about Halloween.

On Halloween day or the Friday before the weekend of Halloween, the afternoon was spent at our classes' Halloween party.  Everyone would dress up in their costumes and we would have a Halloween parade up and down Main Street in our town.  My mom would take off early from work to see us in the parade every single time.  And the rest of the afternoon was spent playing in our classrooms while eating cookies and juice.

Each year, my brother and I would dress up in our costumes on Halloween night and our mom would take us around town.  We would drive, park and trick-or-treat in the couple of blocks around the parked car, then pile back into the car and move it and repeat over and over.  When I was young, I can remember that trick-or-treating started at 4:30pm and ended at 9:00pm -- that was 4.5 hours of candy, candy, candy.  And we would be darned if we didn't try to hit every single house in our town with its' outside light on, even in the rain.  Gosh, my mom was such a trooper.

The title of the post was taken from my favorite Halloween song as a little girl...

One little, two little, three little witches
Flew on their broomsticks
Flew over ditches
Slid down the moon &
Tore their britches
Hey-ho Halloween's here!

My other favorite Halloween song...

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate;
The first one said, "Oh my, it's getting late.
The second one said, "There are witches in the air."
The third one said "But I don't care."
The fourth one said, "I'm ready for some fun!"
The fifth one said, "Let's run and run and run.
"Wooooooooo" went the wind,
And out went the lights.
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

My mom wasn't afraid to let her holiday-freak flag fly (and I'm not ashamed either).  We started out with the simple cardboard decorations that were hung in every window.  And there was this little 7" ghost holding a pumpkin that lit up that was always placed on top of our television which was under our big picture window in our living room.  Each Halloween, the decorations grew a little more.  Now there are many outside decorations at my parents' house, including a light-up graveyard and a blow-up headless horseman carriage complete with two ghost horses.  My mom has proudly passed the holiday-freak flag down.  I have at least a little bit of Halloween in every room on our main floor & four light-up pumpkins outside (I'm going to try and get photos of our decorations for Finn's first Halloween post.)

Another thing about Halloween that I love is haunted houses.  I love scaring myself.  E and I went to a single haunted house in the 10+ years that we have been together despite my absolute LOVE of them.  I finally drug him to The Bates Motel in Philly.  We did the three hopper pass (hay ride, corn maze, & haunted house).  The hay ride was okay -- fun, but not scary.  But the corn maze seriously did me in.  (A side on the side story -- I've only been to one corn maze before in college, and we ended up running away from the chainsaw guy so fast that we caught up with the group in front of us.  Not a good idea as we no longer got scared.) E realized that if he walked behind me, he could scare the living crap out of me but jumping up from behind me.  After the second time, I wasn't going to fall for him jumping up behind me.  So when he did it, I turned around to tell him that it wasn't funny and I came face-to-face with a scary man with a chainsaw.  I don't think that I screamed louder in my life.  Funny story from the haunted corn maze (and probably the one story that E remembers)?  We got into the middle of the corn maze, which was an open yard of sorts with a horse stable on either side.  I was trying to walk quickly through the middle of the open yard and scary man that worked at the maze came running after me.  I screamed and ran -- he grabbed me and started to drag me into one of the horse stables.  I started screaming at the top of my lungs for E who just stood there laughing his butt off at me.  I saw that my knight in shining armor wasn't going to save me, so I do the only thing that I could remember from self-defense class...  I dropped to the ground, becoming dead weight.  Instantly the scary man became concerned for me and asked if I was okay.  I got up from the ground as quickly as my legs would carry me and I ran into the maze.  Eain was left to tell the scary man that I was okay and that I wasn't hurt.  Some knight in shining armor...

As you can see with all the photos that I'm posting with this post, last weekend, we went to the pumpkin patch with Finn.  My mom came to visit for the weekend, so it was really special for her to be able to spend the weekend with Finn in her Halloween costume and buying her her first pumpkin.  We also went to the Farmpark on Sunday, which is basically a farm that's built like a zoo.  I'll have more on that in another post, as we didn't take any photos and we are most definitely going back.  What can I say -- I took one step in the dairy barn with the cows and was instantly brought back home to Iowa.  I even told my mom as we stepped through the doors "Mmmmm, smells like grandma & grandpa's farm..."  I think that I might invest in a membership there, because I would love to go back over and over again -- whenever I'm feeling homesick.

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