My plan was that I'd set up lanterns around our cul-de-sac and our Jack O'Lantern would be perched beneath our street sign. In addition to our candy offerings, there would be an abundance of ingredients for 'smores and water for thirsty trick-or-treaters. And for the parents, there would be wine and pumpkin ale for them to sip while they warmed their bones by the raging fire.
At around 5:30 PM, just after I made dinner for the kids - and while Charlie was carving our pumpkin - I started to scramble putting my plan in to action. I dragged the fire pit from the back of the house to the front. I dumped out the water and mucky leaves that had accumulated since it's last use in … June? July? Meanwhile the kids were running around the yard collecting kindling and we dragged logs from the back of the house up the hill.
The sun was setting fast and there was much to do.
I'm darting back and forth from the house to the yard, getting children in to their costumes (two butterflies, one vampire and a Batman) while also pulling out all of the supplies that I'd need for my front yard fiesta. Charlie has just put the finishing touches on the wagon that he'd use to cart children around the neighborhood (decorated with glow sticks) and I'm preparing to grab my
*sob!* I need a new camera so badly it hurts camera phone to snap off some pictures of the children, before igniting the bonfire, when suddenly, I hear Elizabeth say, "Mommy, someone just pulled in to our driveway!"
I look out the window and I don't see anyone.
But at Elizabeth's urging, I look again, and standing there is Jim.
As in, Jim, my mother's husband.
And then, I see my mother, wearing a bright orange pumpkin mask and waving her arms in the air as she is nearly knocked over by embraces from three of our four children, as the fourth FLIES out the front door and jumps in to her arms.
Mom and Jim decided to surprise us by driving 500 miles from South Carolina to Virginia...
… and they couldn't have timed their arrival more perfectly, since they pulled in to the driveway mere seconds before our entourage took off trick-or-treating throughout the neighborhood.
My focus immediately shifted from taking pictures to HOLY CANNOLI, MOM AND JIM ARE HERE AND HOW AWESOME IS THIS?!
There were hugs and laughter before we bid Charlie and the children farewell, settled Jim in front of the football game, and made our way outside to start the fire. Within minutes, people started to drop past and I promised that if they returned in an hour, we'd have a raging fire and 'smores. After 10, 20, 30 minutes … I began to worry because the fire ring was damp, the kindling was damp, and the leaves that I'd thrown on with the hope of success, turned my tiny fire in to a smoky smoldering mess.
But then, the Spirit of Halloween smiled upon us, and the puny smoky smoldering mess IGNITED in to the most awesomely warm beautiful bonfire. And very soon, people started appearing out of the darkness.
It was an occasion I want to sear in to my memory, forever.
The scene of my mother and I standing in the front yard, greeting people on Halloween. We had on matching black down vests. Mom had on my red headlamp and was sipping Pinot Noir out of a styrofoam cup. She had graham crackers lined up on our small patio table with squares of Hershey's chocolate atop each that were just awaiting a perfectly toasted marshmallow.
My mother has the most incredibly magnetic personality of anyone I've ever met and people who stepped in to the glowing circle, remained there. While their children contentedly roasted marshmallows and stayed warm, they shared stories about themselves. We heard stories about our neighborhood. How not very long ago, there were very few children who lived here. But now, there are an abundance.
The fog wafted above us, across a crescent moon. It was dark and bitter cold. But the small lanterns illuminated a path toward us. And the warmth of the fire was made even warmer by the wonderful people who came to share in the glowing light.
This was our best Halloween ever.
And without question, the beginning of a new tradition.