I’m not really a huge fan of many holidays. I never remember anyone’s birthday and have never cared about making a big deal about my own. Thanksgiving has been nice since I’ve been with Scott, for obvious reasons spending time with my favorite Mother In Law……..and eating Scott’s outrageously delicious food! Although with the absence of much of my own family in my life, I sometimes feel a bit sad that we aren’t closer . Christmas, well, I have developed a bit of a Beef about many aspects of this highly commercialized holiday. While I enjoy parts of the decorating involved in this holiday ,( of course, I do love to set the stage!), the obligatory gift purchasing has a tendency to bewilder me. Don’t get me wrong, I do get great joy from giving the perfect gift that will shock and surprise the recipient. It’s really quite exciting when you know for certain that you have found a gift that is just perfect! ( of course , it would help if I could keep a secret!, I don’t quite have that part down!). In the end, I would much prefer the gift of time spent with those I love. That’s more valuable than any of the material things wrapped up in fancy paper and tied with a bow. So for many reasons that I won’t expand upon any further, I love Halloween! It’s a holiday that simply celebrates fun!
Being silly, having a sense of humor, and giving treats ( or tricks if you prefer!) to adorable children. And there s no obligation, no one is terribly hurt or offended if a home owner chooses to turn off thier lights and decline to participate ! Bottom line…. Halloween is just for FUN!! And I embrace it!!
Exactly when did I realize I was a Halloween fanatic? It’s been an evolution that began when I was a youngster. I blame my parents! My mom enjoyed making costumes for my dad who relished dressing up for Halloween and being silly. I recall witnessing him leaving for work on that glorious holiday dressed up as many different hilarious things. As I became a teenager these costumes began to become embarrassing ! (which delighted him beyond belief!) I would cringe when my classmates would tell me they saw the “Great Pumpkin” riding around the neighborhood on the hood of my moms car, ( resplendent in his green tights, massive orange pumpkin body and adorable little stem hat!) handing out candy apples,( that he and mom had made), to all the kids!!! Oh My God!!! Daaaaad!!! How humiliating!!! I think he loved the fact that his two daughters were known at school as the’ Daughters of The Great Pumpkin’! ( ohhhhh, Mannnnn!). This was , for me, the beginning of my appreciation of the humor that Halloween allows! It’s a holiday that has no obligation! Everything on this holiday is done for ‘FUN’! To laugh, dress up and pretend to be someone or something other than yourself for one silly night! Or, ride around your neighborhood on the hood of a car, dressed as The Great Pumpkin, handing out Candy Apples! And I just love the joy in the faces of the little kids who march up to the door and hold out that bag with a look of delighted expectation and receive a treat ( or a trick at my house!). It’s good, clean fun for all! And fun, simply for the act of fun, nothing more! I never feel obliged to celebrate Halloween, it’s just one silly night! I love it! The world is filled with such serious , sad, scary things and I , for one, think its so great to have ‘ONE’ night each year when silliness prevails!
So, I’ve embraced my apparent ‘Fanaticism’ of Hollyween ! Yep, I said it, I’m a fanatic ! Well, through the years I’ve developed quite a reputation for being the Halloween Queen! Yep, also known as “Hollyween” around my house. The city ,back then( about 18 years ago 1994) , used to actually close down the whole street so cars couldn’t drive through. For one or two years the city had various merchants from downtown sponsor certain houses and provide candy for the home owners. It was soooooooo fun! It felt like a festival on our street. Parents with strollers , tons of costumed kids ready to collect as much candy as they could carry in their trick or treat bags. I was in heaven. Some years we got over 500-600 kids at our door trick or treating their little hearts out! I had the brilliant ( if I do say so!) idea of an alternative to candy, I would give out hand fulls of bugs!!! 🐛. Yep, little plastic bugs , spiders and snakes, centipedes and various creepy crawly things! I mean, they do say ,” Trick ‘or’ Treat!” right? Well Trick it is!!! Whahahaha!!! I know, kinda mean, but mostly funny! ( to me anyways!)
When Mariah was little I used to get a big kick out of dressing up for Hollyween with her. It was so much fun to go to her school with her and march around in the parade with all the kids! I figured my time was limited in terms of her not being embarrassed by me ! ( at least I was never The Great Pumpkin!) We had some adorable costumes, clowns, witches, mermaids, 50’s girls, one year she was a butterfly and I was a butterfly catcher, that was a cute one. During this time I was beginning my traditional Hollyween party. Remember, these were the ‘Pre-Scott’ years, so the food was nothing even close to what it is when he’s in charge! Frozen mini quiche , frozen mini bagel pizzas, you get the idea! Definitely not what Scott would serve, good thing he wasn’t around to witness the atrocity that I called food ! And this was the beginning of my collection of Hollyween decor! Back then I mostly concentrated on the front yard, I never imagined I would someday cover every inch inside and out with every conceivable creepy, scary Hollyween decoration!
So, fast forward to more recently, 2009, our last big bash. We probably had close to 200 people ! Yep! The Hollyween extravaganza had slowly evolved into a major happening for all who knew us! And we had such a great time throwing those parties! The decorating started in August! Every single inch of our home, inside and out, was dripping in Hollyween decor . I’m not quite sure exactly how many strands of orange lights were hung from every place we could hang lights, including all the 15 foot vaulted ceilings inside our house! At night it looked like the orange lights were floating, soooo beautiful! I would remove all our art from the walls and replace them with pictures of scary scenes of creepy people! Sculls, ghosts, bugs of all sort, skeletons, severed heads, scary clowns, body parts, grave stones, ghouls, giant inflatable spiders, a bathtub outside complete with red running water and a scary skeleton standing under the water , adorned our home for the holiday ! Scott designed and built,a very scary crate that they set up on our front lawn, it was hooked up to the compressor and they programmed a circuit board that created a loop of creepy voices and noises, the box had a big chain wrapped around it and the compressor made the crate shake and the top looked as though something was trying to get out, then suddenly the doors on the side flew open and out popped a scary clown!!!! Yikes!!! We had dozens of kids standing on the sidewalk in front of our house that night, screeching and laughing with delight ! They loved it!!! And Scott and I were delighted to create such a fun, entertaining treat! I would say that that year was the apex of our Hollyween extravaganza!
I enjoy setting the stage for our amazing party. Decorating and making everything just so , brings me joy. But Scott’s passion is feeding people! So the food at our party was unbelievable! We began to strategize about the menu about 5 months before. Then gathering the recipes and immense ingredients was quite an undertaking. We always tried to hit the Bev-Mo 5 cent sale for the 5-6 cases of wine. Then Scott usually liked to make a killer rum punch. Our good friend Jason who is a brewer at Seabright brewery in Santa Cruz would bring a couple kegs of his beer. My very sweet friend Susan Bracken somehow always volunteered to bring the kids punch,( cuz, oh yea, lets not forget about the kids!) and I had plenty of bottled water, juice boxes and soda coming out the wazoo! Nope, it’s not a requirement to be an alcoholic for my party! 😝. Of course we have many very generous people in our lives who volunteered to help by bringing food, but noooooo, Scott would have none of that! ( the crazy man!) I did manage to get him to agree to let people bring deserts ( of course it didn’t stop him from making his own as well,I don’t know why! He’s outta control!) Here’s a list of Scott’s crazy menu: About 7 entrees, 8-10 side dishes and maybe 6 deserts( he couldn’t resist!). And lots of snacks or appetizer type dishes! In massive quantities, he smoked 45-50 lb. of brisket, 30 lb. of Pork shoulder, 10 lb. of sausages. Home made B-B-Q sauce, two heats, mild and killer spicy. 15 lb. of cheese stuffed meatballs,(yum!), 4lb. of Smoked Gouda and bacon Mac-n-cheese( omg!), 4 batches of Jambalaya, Mediterranean chicken kabobs, 10-12 lb., with veggies, baked beans, 200 handmade empanadas( these we started making a month or so ahead, little by little and pop em’ in the freezer) , potato salad, Asian cole slaw, 8 loafs of cheesy garlic bread, creole sauce for jambalaya , several dips for empanadas , deviled eggs up the ying-yang, 7-layer dip!!!! You can imagine how much time and energy it took us ( and his mom, who maned a grocery cart for the massive shopping trip to multiple markets!) he started cooking a week before the party! And yes, we have two spare refrigerators in our backyard,( you already heard that its like a junkyard out there, I forgot to mention the TWO old fridges!). There were NO hungry people at the end of our Hollyween bash, and never any leftover food! Scott’s food is so well known that everyone who knows us comes to our house ready to chow down and have fun!!
As you can see, me and Scott really enjoy hosting a good party, but once a year is all we can take! And frankly, after the last one , we were done. My Hollyween party was my passion for many, many years . And Scott very gladly joined me in creating a fun event for all our community to enjoy. Each year it grew and grew, culminating in an event that people looked forward to each year. And we really had a great time together, as we so often do! We have a blast entertaining and sharing our home! Many friends are mourning the end of our party and some are relieved to not have to come up with a costume to wear! I think my good friends Kim & Dan, who we have so much fun with each year may never forgive us for deserting the tradition . But Cindy and Chris may celebrate the end of the pumpkin carving ( at least 20 pumpkins total) that they ‘always’ so generously helped me with! 🎃🎃🎃. I must say, one thing I will miss is the kereoke ! Laughing so hard with my friend Theo, he’s always game to kereoke with me!! That was good fun! Something I would never do if not for being a Troll doll or Medusa! Who knew Medusa could rock out like that??? I was just as surprised as Jamie & Claire! And, Thing 1 and Thing 2 have hidden talents that Dr. Seuss left out of his books! Ha! Ha! Ha!
As October is fast approaching and I’m preparing to get rid of all my Hollyween decorations this post seemed destined to be written. I’m sorting through my enormous collection and preparing to part with my fanatic ways. We spent last year in Boquete during Halloween , they do celebrate it there, although with much less commercialism . We heard about parties but didn’t go to any. I’m not expecting to duplicate our celebration in our new home. So I’m ready to have a yard sale and let go of the skulls and ghouls and body parts, severed heads, and pumpkins, ghosts and goblins! It’s all going! As we prepare for this next phase of our lives I’m actually enjoying the thought of simplifying and having much less ,’stuff’! A few less severed heads doesn’t break my heart, I’m ready to part with the bugs and ghosts too! There is something very freeing about letting go of things ( skulls and scary clowns) and starting over with a clean slate! Maybe there is a Panamanian holiday that I can obsess over! Who knows !!! Or maybe our new friends won’t mind if Scott can’t resist smoking up some delicious meats and throwing together that smoked Gouda and bacon mac-n-cheese! Look out Boquete , I hope they have a Weight Watchers meeting there!!!! 😱.
If I had to guess, our days of hosting such elaborate events is in the past. But we’re okay with that. We enjoyed every moment and we will cherish the memories. As long as we find a place to call home and friends to share a glass of wine or a cup of coffee with, we’ll be happy. But if it turns out that those folks in Boquete are fanatics about Halloween and I arrived without any severed heads, ghosts & skulls, I’m gonna scream!!! 😱. Then again, we’ve already had that adventure….. It’s time to seek out NEW adventure! Sooooooo, bring it on!