I’ll admit it – I’m a sucker for Hallowe’en. Oh, Christmas has its charms – lots of family, lots of presents. Easter is a chocolate-lover’s dream. But nothing celebrates a combination of excess and rule-breaking like the 31stof October. “Wear whatever you want!” “Sure, you can go for a walk in the dark and take candy from strangers!” “Imagination is a good thing! Believe in ghosts and fairies all you like!” Hallowe’en is ironically, for all of its scary trappings, a day when members of the community agree to trust each other and take a one-day break from fear.
I am fully aware that I fly the Hallowe’en flag alone on this boat. Indy and Stylish like it, of course, but since our Hallowe’en activities change from year to year, they haven’t built up a sense of tradition-through-repetition the way I did. Erik finds the entire urban trick-or-treating formula mystifying. As best I can tell, he travelled back to the rural 1880s for his Hallowe’ens. On Hallowe’en night, he and a friend rode on horseback between a handful of farms. They clopped down lanes lit with candled sheep skulls, and were invited into dim kitchens to sip hot cider and eat home-made treats while gammers and gaffers told them terrifying stories of local murders and haunted inns. What a show-off. I’m sure I had just as much fun strolling from house to house dressed as a punk rocker and collecting tiny Mars bars in a pillowcase.
We only really woke to the fact that Hallowe’en was upon us once again when Stylish was talking to her best friend from home. Her friend asked what Stylish was going to be on the big day, offering that she herself planned to be a ghost. Stylish and Indy blinked at each other.
“Mom, are we having Hallowe’en this year?” asked Stylish.
“Yes!” As if I would skip Hallowe’en. Erik rolled his eyes. “We’ll do something. A party, a cookout – something.”
Indy discovered an old Hallowe’en activity book in the craft drawer. Soon the girls were making construction paper witches and wizards, egg carton spiders and tiny cardboard pumpkins. My mother included some decorations in a care package of school books, and so we added paper ghosts and Boo! signs to the decoration extravaganza.
A lucky trip to the local Dollar Store equivalent provided Indy with a devil costume. In good Dollar Store style, the horns failed to light up as advertised, but she was more than content to poke people in the rear with her pitchfork. Indy completed the ensemble with her skeleton pajamas, an item which has featured on one child or the other on all of the last four Hallowe’ens. Oh, you thrifty Schaefers.
Stylish built herself a Kyoshi Warrior costume (from the Avatar anime). She topped it off with a plastic samurai sword found on sale in Carrefour (haven’t I said that New Cal has everything?), and now both girls were armed and ready.
We had our first Hallowe’en on the 29th
A friend had arranged for the girls to trick-or-treat at the marina with her son, their good friend.
The trio of Devil, Kyoshi Warrior and Tin Tin followed a complicated set of clues to determine which were their designated trick-or-treating boats.
They cobbled together a “trick” involving the splits, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and lots of hopping, and were rewarded with an excess of candy from cruisers who fondly remembered their own trick-or-treating days.
Hallowe’en #1 was a win.
|Candy candy candy candy candy!
“Real Hallowe’en” was still on the horizon. We had decided to have a party aboard Papillon. Of course, we didn’t actually have any firm guests for the party yet. All of the kid-boats of our acquaintance had, like us, been playing a game of musical chairs, island- and bay-hopping in the area around Noumea. It was still a mystery who would arrive at our current location by the 31st. No matter. I was sure it would all work out, even if it was just the four of us that night.
The day came, and we started getting ready. When the girls found a recipe for Monster Mouth cupcakes in their activity book, I could hardly say no.
“You’re making cupcakes, too?” said Erik. “How big is this Hallowe’en getting?”
It’s only cupcakes,” I said.
“I can manage.”
|Because what lemon cupcakes need are chocolate frosting and jellybeans, obviously.
That was an error on my part. My free-and-easy insistence that this Hallowe’en party was going to be no big deal opened the door to Erik ‘s favourite activity: inviting people over. For coffee, for cake, for a beer, for a water – irrelevant. Come sit in our cockpit and chat. I’m sure he saw it as a chance to get the Hallowe’en he wanted, too (minus the horses, of course.)
“So, who’s coming?” I asked as I mixed cupcake batter.
“Oh, you know,” he said casually. “Winfried and Ute. Paul and Catherine. Maybe Esti and Mario.”
“Mmmm.” I opened the cupboard and prepared to bake a second cake.
Our tiny green squash was carved and the guests en route. Indy dove back into her devil-gear. In the end we had five kids and seven adults on board, and a surprise set of three trick-or-treaters who arrived in a dinghy. (Lucky for me, I had extra candy at the ready. Ka-pow! Score one for urban Hallowe’en preparedness.) Everyone laughed, and ate, and admired the costumes. The sweets were gone in a twinkling.
Hours later, the kids in bed, I washed the stack of cake plates. I had to admit, this strange merger of Hallowe’en styles had worked pretty well.
I popped a tiny Mars bar into my mouth.
Happy Hallowe’en to us all.
|Cutest squash ever.