Baby’s First (Real) Halloween/Samhain!

Halloween (or Samhain for us Pagans) is my absolute favorite holiday of the year. Of course, as a Wiccan, it is my most important holiday of the year, being the New Year and all; but it’s also just fun. I love costumes, candy, desserts, decorating, the whole works. I’ve loved Halloween since I was a kid, and couldn’t wait until I had kids of my own with whom to share the holiday.
Now, obviously, seeing as my daughter turns two in less than a month [OMG, how did that happen??], this isn’t really her first Halloween/Samhain [pronounced, BTW, sow-een or sah-win, but never sam-hayn]. However, this is the first one that counts. Pop Culture Toddler didn’t get to have a real Halloween last year, and unlike her first Yule and Christmas (at one month old), it had nothing to do with her age.

Every year before I got pregnant with PCT, I celebrated Samhain/Halloween in a big way. It started in 1997 when I got my first on-campus apartment. That was the first year of my Samhain dinner party. It started with four or five friends, just a bunch of us gals hanging out and eating a meal I prepared loosely based on the suggestion in Laurie Calbot’s Celebrate the Earth: A Year of Holidays in the Pagan Tradition. This tradition carried through law school and after I moved back to Houston and started my job. The parties were all small, with my close friends, and the menu stayed pretty much the same, with little modifications here and there. The party has gotten bigger and bigger (as has the menu) over the years, and has practically become a legend in its own right.

Each of the nine years I have been a practicing attorney, I have taken off on Samhain for religious observance. I’m not just taking off Halloween to prep for a party and get costume-ready [though, certainly I do that, too]. I spend the day doing a spiritual and physical cleanse of my house and my person. I reflect on the year that has passed and the year that is to come. I communicate with my ancestors who have passed [most importantly, my paternal grandmother, with whom I’ve always shared a strong bond, despite her passing away when I was only 12 years old, and who I know — I can feel — is watching over me always]. And I cook like nobody’s business. The year before I got pregnant was my Tenth Annual Samhain dinner party. There have only been two years where I did not follow my usual tradition, the last two years.

In 2008, I was very pregnant on Halloween — officially due at the beginning of December (but not expected by my midwives to make it past November; I didn’t). My good friends suggested that instead of me either (1) cancelling my party and being unhappy about it; or (2) trying to drag my extremely large belly around a kitchen, standing on my feet all day cooking for them, they combine my usual party with my baby shower. It was seriously the most awesome thing ever. I always thought a Halloween baby shower would be cool, and I got one. Of course, everything about it was different from what I did every year, but the spirit was still there — having a great time and breaking bread with my friends and my immediate family.

Last year, however, was very different. My in-laws are snow birds who spend half the year living in Florida. Within the resort where they live, they also have a time-share condo that is available the first week of November every year. Now that we have Pop Culture Toddler, my husband and I get use of the time-share for that slot in November. When we first planned the trip, I didn’t really think about the logistics of it all. I just threw PCT’s and my costumes in the suitcase, along with perhaps five different Halloween-themed outfits for her, and called it a day. I knew I wouldn’t be able to have my party, but it didn’t really occur to me that she wouldn’t get a real Halloween either.

Where we were located, there was no trick-or-treating. There weren’t even really any Halloween decorations up. Add to the fact that it was 80 degrees, and it didn’t even feel like we were anywhere close to Halloween.  Halloween morning, we took PCT to the mall.  Had I know there would be a photographer there, I would have brought her in-costume. But I didn’t. So PCT now has professional Halloween pictures wearing a pair of too-big black shorts, a shirt that says “Got Candy?”, jack-o-lantern socks, and a bib that says “Baby’s First Halloween.”
(This is obviously not the professional picture, but this is the outfit)

The mall was going to have trick-or-treating, but we never made it. It’s sort of impossible to go trick-or-treating between 5 and 7 p.m. when you have dinner reservations at 6. So what’s a poor Wiccan mom with a suitcase full of costumes to do? Bring Tinkerbelle to dinner.

Okay, so she was the only person in the restaurant wearing a costume. In fact, other than our family, there was only one other group in the entire restaurant. But she was so stinking cute how could I not put her in the costume? Besides, it traveled all the way from Texas!Compose

All and all, Halloween was a complete bust last year. I was pretty depressed about it. Thankfully, the combination of ocean air, warm weather, relaxing, being out of the office, and consuming copious amounts of alcohol helped me get over it temporarily and enjoy my fabulous vacation [it really was fabulous other than Halloween]; but it always kills me that my baby’s first Halloween was so very un-Halloween. I’ve told Pop Culture Dad in no uncertain terms that our annual Florida vacation will only occur after Halloween from now on.

This year, however, I plan to make up for it in spades.

I’ve been getting PCT geeked up for Halloween since the end of September. She’s got an obscene amount of Halloween-themed DVDs that she’s been watching every day, and she’s even obsessed with a couple of them [I’m looking at you, Dora].  She insists on reading Trick or Treat, Dora! every night before bed. She’s tried on her costume a few times, and she loves dressing up and twirling around. She goes around the house yelling, “Trick or Treat!” and pointing out the various pumpkins and spiders, claiming that they are all hers. She waves to our Pac-o-latern and three ghosts in the front yard. She talks to the scarecrows and is quick to tell anyone that “Nonna did it!” [my mother put the scarecrows up]. This little girl loves Halloween as much as her mommy does!

We’re doing a family-themed Halloween. Luckily, Pop Culture Dad is just along for the ride, and let me do my own thing here. I love love love love Wicked (the musical; not the book). In fact, my birthday present this year was PCD taking me to see Wicked…. AGAIN. My dear husband was kind enough to consent to the Wicked theme. Because he was so lovely about it, I’m not going to force him to be the goat or anything. And, since I am (of course) going as Elphaba/The Wicked Witch, it only makes sense anyway that he go as Fieryo/The Scarecrow. PCT is going to be (of course) Galenda/Glenda the Good Witch [And, hey, I could see her being a tall, biracial version of Kristen Chenoweth in the future…. You should hear PCT sing!]. In fact, every time Dora asks what’s her costume, she gives a cheesy grin and yells, “Good Witch!!”.

The Samhain/Halloween dinner party (feast) really that has been on a two-year hiatus is now back in full swing and is happening tomorrow.  The big difference, however, is that now it is “hosted” by Pop Culture Toddler. I didn’t want to modify the structure of the party too much [yes! there will still be alcohol], because I still have dear friends who don’t have young children, and I still want to celebrate the New Year with them; but I wanted to offer enough kid-friendliness so that my friends with children [it’s been a baby-booming past couple of years, what can I say…] wouldn’t feel uncomfortable bringing their kids.  In the past, I’ve only been able to convince two people (both in the same year) to bring their kids with them. Of course, back then, most of my friends didn’t have kids; but seeing as I didn’t have them and neither did most other people, I think many thought their kids would be a burden or something. Shrug.

The party is earlier in the day so the kids can get to bed on time and the kid-less can go clubbing (or whatever it is people do other than watch tv at home like we do every weekend) without wrecking their party schedules. I’ve kept the same menu that evolved over 10 years of perfecting my party, but we’ve added some kid-friendly dishes that I know the kids will love [the recipes have already been tested on PCT], and I’m pretty sure the adults will, too. Gosh, I just hope they let the kids eat first! I’ve created some favor bags for the kids, with different toys and treats given depending on age group — the ages of the kids attending range from four months to 10 years. We’ve set up a craft table for the kids, and we’ve got a few other surprises that I won’t reveal just yet in case any partygoers are reading this before Saturday night. 😉

Sunday night, we will take PCT around our neighborhood for her first ever trick-or-treating. She’s already been saying “Trick or Treat” for a month now, so she’s ready. And we’ll have already given her costume a run-through.

And only after we have thoroughly enjoyed our Halloween festivities will we then board the plane to chillax on the beach for a week. Sigh…. Rough life, ain’t it? ♥

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