Scaring up some holiday spirit

I can hardly believe it’s November already, but this year I am feeling happy that the holiday season is approaching.

Actually, in many ways, it’s already here. I’ve heard a couple of friends complain that they already have heard Christmas carols playing in stores and restaurants. I’ve certainly seen Christmas decorations and gift ideas popping up in stores myself. But I don’t mind – although I dread the cold and dreary weather, I am excited for the gatherings and gift-giving the season will bring.

It was Halloween that made me start really thinking about the holidays. My husband, Mike, and I wanted to stay out of the rain while handing out candy, so we set up shop in our carport for Belmont’s trick or treat. Mike lit the area with artificial torches and found a spooky music track to play in the background. He got us a couple of masks and, before I knew it, he had transformed that little area into a haunting spot.

The children who came by seemed to enjoy it. Some of them were too timid to approach Mike in his hockey mask, but I went mask-free and they accepted candy from me. We had a great time seeing all of the creativity that went into their costumes and trying to guess what some of the more clever ones represented.

When the candy collecting session came to a close, we left the carport set up just as it was – including the bowl of candy – and went next door. Our neighbor, Sarah Scott, was hosting a get-together and had invited us to stop by and “fill a plate.” That was easy to do, since she had set up quite a spread of delicious snacks, sandwiches, salads, desserts and more.

We truly enjoyed visiting with everyone there and chatting with Sarah’s mom, Martha Scott, and aunt, Mary Ann Kemp. They are all members of the Bartels family, and my family and theirs have been friends for decades. We admired the way Sarah has decorated her home with clever creations and family treasures and made the most of the opportunity for a little “down time” with so many friendly faces.

The festive atmosphere of the evening and the chance to bring some joy to local children got me to thinking about the other holidays to come. This year, it is my sister-in-law Amy Pellegrini’s turn to host Thanksgiving dinner for my husband’s family. I know that means a cozy afternoon and evening in the log cabin she shares with her husband, Dick, and children, Tyler and Brooke. It also means I won’t have a lot of cooking to do and will be able to relax and enjoy the day.

Then I will be looking forward to Christmas parades, tree-lighting celebrations, shopping for gifts and even more time with family and friends. Favorite holiday foods will be on menus at all sorts of gatherings, and familiar Christmas tunes will fill the air.

It seems the generous spirit of the holidays also affected some trick-or-treaters this year. I mentioned that we left our carport set up with spooky lighting and sound effects, along with a big, unguarded bowl of candy.

When we returned to our place, we discovered that someone else had been there. The bowl of candy was nearly empty – but not quite. Whoever found it helped themselves to a large number of treats, but they made certain to leave a little something behind for anyone else who happened to come along.

That feels like the holiday spirit to me.