All is ready for today's celebrations. These cookies are for the first- and second-grade class parties: Oreos, pretzels, a touch of marshmallow fluff to hold them together, some quick decorations on top.
These are for the Halloween party at our friends' house: ghost petits fours. (Yes, I'm out of my mind, but at least I know it.)
A nearby city really does Halloween in style: decorations, crowds, closed streets for safer trick-or-treating. A friend who lives there has a party every year. We park near her house and then take the kids out from there when it gets dark. Where we live, the minimum lot size is multi-acre and nobody trick-or-treats except in the few actual neighborhoods that exist...walking from house to house just isn't practical anywhere else. Welcome to the boonies.
One of the places we lived while I was growing up was a residential suburb of Auckland, New Zealand. Back then (early '80s) we were literally the only Americans in town: the second we opened our mouths people knew exactly who we were! We were there for two years--I would have been 8 and 9 and my brother 4 and 5. At that time (and for all I know, even now) the Kiwi kids didn't go trick-or-treating on Halloween. Guess it wasn't part of their celebration...I don't think it was as big a holiday there as here. My brother and I were never in the States for Halloween as kids that I remember anyway, but Mom tried very hard to preserve the American traditions for us, and she wanted us to be able to dress up and trick-or-treat. She explained the situation to some of the neighbors, who were kind enough to agree to humor the only two American kids in town: come Halloween night, these accommodating souls had orange paper jack o'lanterns on their mailboxes so we would know which houses to approach.
It takes a very thoughtful and loving kind of mother to organize all that--to make the holiday so special for two little kids far from home. Since this is the example that was set for me, perhaps now it's clearer why I make ghost cakes and spider cookies and Thanksgiving turkey cookies out of candy, why I am a class mother and frequent trip chaperone, why I figured out how to make a Saturn (as in the planet) costume for my three year-old when that's all he wanted to be for Halloween. In the immortal words of my aunt, when you plant peppers, you get peppers.