As I begin this letter, it is 12 AM on October 10th, 2016. That means it is now my thirty-second birthday (well, technically I was born at 12:30 PM, but who’s counting?!)
You are snuggled up in bed with your friend Clair, and so this night marks your first sleepover with a friend, ever. I’m so happy for you. I had sleepovers with friends at least every other weekend when I was growing up, it seemed, so I am happy for you to have this experience. Hopefully you will have more.
Sleepovers with friends are fun. Just make sure no one freezes your underwear! I had that happen once and things were never the same again. Just kidding. But my underwear did really end up in my friend’s freezer! And I did my fair share of freezing the underwear of my friends. What are friends for, right?! The cool thing, my grrrls, is that when you have a sister, you can have a slumber party every night! My siblings and I would all camp out with our friends in the basement on Sunshine Drive, when we were very little; and one time I got into a bit of trouble during a game of truth or dare. It was not the first nor the last time that game got me into trouble, but it was memorable.
Someone dared me (or, who knows, maybe I dared myself) to draw all over Uncle Billy’s face with red lipstick. Remember that Uncle Billy was very tiny, like an elf (with pointy ears and all) at the time. I crept over to his sleeping bag and, crouching near his round little head, scribbled slowly over his face with the tube of red lipstick, trying unsuccessfully not to giggle and squeal. He woke up during the lipstick smearing act and turned, girls, into a …. brace yourselves… what happened next still sends shivers up and down my spine. Little Billy, my brother, upon being drawn on with lipstick, turned into… into CHUCKY. As in: THE Chucky. The scary doll that chops people into little pieces and stuff. Well, actually, I don’t really know what he does because I HATED watching scary movies at slumber parties and would bring headphones and cover my head with a pillow and repeat words in my head to drown out the sounds of horror movies and to get the horrible images out. Despite my big fear of homicidal creatures, I had to face BUCKY (Billy Chucky) that night. Bucky sprang into action, as only a killer doll brother elf beast could, and, in a fit of hysteria with lipstick across his face, he growled and screeched as he searched out his instrument of revenge. In seconds, he took hold of a twirling baton and proceeded to swing it repetitively with all his little boy beastly might at my backside, as I was pressed against the paneled wall, squealing, “HELP, HELP. MOMMMM. DADDDD. BUCKY’S TRYING TO KILL ME!!!” We laugh about it now, but I remember it vividly, and it wasn’t funny at the time. I thought I was being killed. Ever since then, I was much more cautious about what I did with lipstick! I only smear it on sleeping people’s faces when there are NO twirling batons within reach! Sound scary? Good!
Another great part of having a Halloween slumber party is that you can tell scary stories. Like the story about how a very disturbed spooky beagle was leaving a big stinky poop on the downstairs kitchen floor at Dimpy’s without giving a poop about who was going to have to smell it and clean it up! I can’t even finish that story; I fear it might actually be true. (Girls, I can smell beagle poop from 19.4 miles away…)
Not all sleepovers are scary, and that’s good. Most of them are giggle fests. Mine were mostly opera fests. Well, not exactly opera, but I would usually get my friends involved in a lot of dancing and singing (and in the putting on of never-ending plays).
Since my birthday is in October, when I was young, I would always have Halloween-themed birthday sleepover parties. Grandma Sue and I would plan them, and planning them was one of my favorite childhood memories. Grandma Sue threw THE BEST Halloween birthday parties for me when I was young. And at those parties, there were always costumes (you know how much I love them), cake, decorations, lights, candles, and games. Ever heard of a Ouija board? I had one, and it was always the hit of the party.
It’s my party right now. Writing this letter is the first and most important part of my birthday. It’s better than a carved pumpkin glowing with fire in its eyes and mouth, and that’s saying a lot because you know how much I love Halloween and, especially, pumpkins. It’s so hard going through The Month of Spooks without my little precious pumpkins near me. It’s driving me nuts that I cannot celebrate my favorite holiday with you this year.
I can’t do anything to change that, but I can do this: I am going to make you a special list of Halloween family traditions that I want our family to always uphold. Here are some of the main ingredients needed for a happy Mason Family Halloween:
Some of the Ingredients in Mummy’s Recipe for a Harpy Halloween (Hexling Family Traditions)
Love. The foundation of Halloween Fun is Spooktastic Love. It’s love of family and fun, in conjunction with a love of All Things Halloween.
Costume parade(s) (around the house and public establishments) built around an annual family theme. We love to wear costumes all year round, but we get especially creative with them around Halloween.
Decorations. Decorate the heck out of the house, making sure to string up a lot of lights and also making sure of decorating outside, especially the porch. Make it haunted in a cozy way! Make sure there are witches and skeletons with eyes that glow red, and pumpkins, and ghouls, and cats and bats, and spiders and webs.
A rockin’ groovin’ Halloween tunes playlist/soundtrack for the season.
A trip on a beautiful fall day to a pumpkin farm to find a pumpkin. Pumpkinville is ideal, but if you can’t get there, find another.
A family hay ride, probably at the pumpkin farm and preferably to a pumpkin patch where you can procure the perfect GREAT PUMPKIN for you!
Find and consume fresh mulled cider and fresh apples and apple crisp and apple pie and apple cake.
Watch our fun and freaky Spooky Season favorites, such as The Addams Family, Hocus Pocus, Dracula (and Bram Stoker’s Dracula), King Kong, The Curse of the Werewolf, Frankenstein, Beetlejuice, The Nightmare before Christmas, Double, Double Toil and Trouble, Phantom of the Opera, Casper, Sleepy Hollow, The Canterbury Ghost, Ghostbusters, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Nosferatu, The Bride of Frankenstein, Godzilla, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie, Corpse Bride, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Bad Seed, Death Becomes Her, Young Frankenstein, and Edward Scissorhands.
Consume pumpkin butter and pumpkin donuts, pumpkin ice cream, and any pumpkin food or drink you can find. Pumpkin isn’t just delicious; it’s also nutritious!
Sit on a bale of hay and say neigh. No autumn season is complete without it!
Build a scarecrow (as a family, together — giving it a name and identity and personifying characteristics is also essential… creating it in honor of a character or person is fun, too).
Attend any and all Halloween-themed events that arise.
Shortly before Halloween night, carve a pumpkin on a theme or design of your choice. It can be a contest but all who carve win! We help each other, too. We have a lot of carving talent in our family.
Toast pumpkin seeds on Halloween night (wash them, dry them, salt and oil them, toast them — add cumin or other fun spices if you wish to experiment).
On Halloween night, light candles in a carved pumpkin and display on the porch proudly.
Decide who’s tricking and who’s treating. Be the friendliest, spookiest, and most welcoming house on the block. We welcome others in this family; we do not shun them or shut them out. All who come in peace are welcome. Family rule no. 1: Inclusion.
Hoot like owls when people ring the doorbell.
When all the trick or treating is done and all the candy is dumped on the floor, counted, and traded, bring the pumpkins in and let them light up the room.
Curl up as a family on the couch and snack on cider and other treats while watching Mummy’s favorite Halloween specials, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and “Garfield’s Halloween Adventure.”
Fall asleep while watching them and snuggling together under a big blanket.
I think that about covers it. The basics, at least. Dimpy used to dress up like a scarecrow and put a paper bag over his head and sit very still on the Chasewood Porch on Halloween night– and then he would jump up and roar and scare trick-or-treaters. Or sometimes he would silently rise, and that would be enough to make the kids pee their pants. Ask him about that sometime; I’m sure he has some very funny stories about his days as The Porch Petrifier. He was very at good scaring the squeals out of visitors, but I think he was selective and wouldn’t terrify little ones– only older ones. I would have screamed and darted across the yard if that happened to me. Even if he just moved the tiniest bit, without making a sound. Despite being a lover of “dares,” I’ve always also been a scaredy cat! I know you two would not want to be scared but that you would like to watch mummy being scared by a porch scarecrow like that. You do get a kick out of pranks being pulled on me; that’s for sure.
I am already loving my 32nd birthday. All these memories are making me smile.
Sweet Pumpkins, I love the gift you gave me– the teeny weeny Matilda book necklace. That was SO thoughtful and just perfect for me. I loved wearing it today and can’t wait to wear it tomorrow. You know how much I love books and THAT book in particular (Roald Dahl is one of my favorite authors). And the book, Matilda, is about reading. It’s a celebration of literacy as well as a celebration of survival and of some people’s abilities to rise above the difficult circumstances of their lives. I had so much fun reading it aloud to you when you were little and can’t wait to read it again.
Of course, you know that YOU are the only birthday present I need!
I did give myself a couple of birthday gifts. One of them is a witch’s hat. Because I think it’s about time I had one, since I am your Mummy Witch. And the other is this really cool art piece by a friend of mine, Smyth Wolfe. Smyth is a GREAT artist. I love Smyth’s work. I can’t wait to show you! This art piece is OURS now. Someday we’re gonna hang this in OUR house, and that’s part of the reason I love it so much– it’s ours; it represents the future for us that I’m working toward.
I miss you so much and love you so much, but I need to get a few hours of sleep or I’ll be Cranky Crankster on my birthday.
My loves, I expect that the slumber party is actually at rest right now, and that all three of you are sleeping, but I’ll find out the details of how it all went down tomorrow morning, when I wake up and call you, so I can see your beautiful faces on the morning of my birthday. It’s hard not being with you on my birthday but writing you makes me feel a little better about it.
I’m so excited to hear you sing “Happy Birthday” to me. What a lucky mum I am!
I believe in The Great Pumpkins— the GREATEST… that would be YOU. My two.
Believin’ in you, always,
Mummy’s Mulled Cider Recipe (this is how I make it; it’s simple)
- Fill a medium-size sauce pan with cider, leaving about three inches at the top of the pan.
- Turn the burner on to low heat (stir occasionally).
- Zest an orange into the cider.
- Cut the orange in half; slice half of the orange into beautiful, fragrant orange whole-moon rounds. After piercing those with cloves, squeeze the juice of the other half of the orange into the pan.
- Sprinkle and stir in a tablespoon of cinnamon using a wooden spoon.
- While it’s starting to heat up, gather mulling spices (6 allspice berries, 6 cloves, and 6 star anise.. or as many as you want) and a few cinnamon sticks.
- Place the mulling spices in a tea ball and sink the tea ball into the cider, except for the anise stars because they are fun and look pretty atop the orange slices.
- Lower the orange slices into the cider and when they float up, drop in your cinnamon sticks and anise stars.
- Let it simmer for a long time, while you are watching a Halloween special, or dancing to spooky tunes or picking popcorn out of your teeth. Breathe in the aroma. And after a while, when it starts to look caramelized around the edges, give it a stir and ladle it into your favorite mugs.
- Pucker up and enjoy one of your mummy’s very favorite drinks.