I was chatting to a good friend yesterday about her Halloween celebrations-basically, it involved a delicious meal with friends, wine, dancing and a long lie in the next day. (I really only heard the long lie in part!) In MY parallel universe, things were a little more...rustic. I should mention at this point that my friend is 10 years ahead of where I am now- her youngest child is the same age as my eldest, so Halloween has gradually evolved from being very child focused to more of an adult do. So she totally gets that my Halloween is currently of a very different genre...because she's been there. Which means that logically speaking, some day I might be where she is now-Snoozesville here I come!
Back in the real world, on Halloween night, our (blessedly large) kitchen was filled with grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends, cousins, the parish priest and many, many children. Devils, vampires, witches and skeletons crowded round the table, hoovering up sweets, popcorn and chocolate faster than I could put them out. Loverboy barbecued sausages in the rain, while I served up bowls of pumpkin soup. Mummy brought homemade apple tart and Daddy arrived with the biggest box of fireworks I'd ever seen.
As the rain eased, the party moved outside to the fire pit and the kids ran around with sparklers, writing their names in the night sky. The babies toddled around after them, squealing with joy and then tiredness. Next came the fireworks-banned from our childhood because of the Troubles, I'm still childishly thrilled by them and the older kids screamed in scared delight. When the excitement became too much for the under threes, our kitchen sink became a bath. One by one, each sticky facepainted babe, emerged fresh and ready for talc, jammies and bed. 'I didn't realize that we were now offering a full feeding AND bathing service!' Loverboy joked quietly to me.
Gradually the kitchen cleared, and as the younger children were carried exhausted to bed or to cars, the older ones continued eating their own body weight in sweets. We adults drank tea and munched apple tart, and remembered past Halloweens when pumpkins were turnips, and we ducked for apples, and nearly broke our teeth on tinfoil wrapped coins hidden in tarts.
The next morning, as I packed away the plastic pitchforks for another year, and picked popcorn up from behind the couch, it dawned on me that some day I'll miss this sort of messy, noisy, busy Halloween. Yes, I may trade it for a great meal and craic with friends, and the lie in IS definitely a deal breaker, but these are the Halloweens that our children will sit round a table reminiscing about some day....and if I'm very very lucky, I might even have a (comfortable ) seat at that table too.