Halloween last year at our house was super scary. But, it wasn’t our costumes scaring everyone off. It was the fact that the stomach flu was ripping through our house like a hurricane. My husband made a half-hearted attempt at taking our oldest two trick-or-treating even though he still had a fever himself, while I laid in bed trying to pray myself out of nausea.
Needless to say, I felt like I had some making up to do this Halloween.
We had planned to get together with our closest family and friends and enjoy soup and chili before heading out with our crew of six parents and nine children. I had decided I would bake homemade bread, which my family loves, and take it with us to add to the soup dinner. I should have known that something was amiss when I woke up to an unusually warm Halloween. If you’ve lived in Colorado long then you know Halloween is always eerily cold. I was raised in a household that didn’t celebrate Halloween, so I always thought it was just punishment for everyone celebrating the devil’s holiday. So, when it was warm, I should have known the devil was on the prowl and that the day would not run smoothly…or it might just be that I can’t keep two thoughts in my head for more than 30 seconds and that tends to cause problems. As our days typically go, I was running around dropping kids at school and picking them up and running around the house like a woman on fire. I started the bread and exercised while it rose, totally feeling like I had my life together and I was a rock star. Then, I started to realize that by the time I had to start the bread on it’s second rise I was going to have to leave and get my oldest from school. No big deal. I preheated the upper oven so it would be ready when we got home and warmed my lower oven by setting it to 500 degrees for two minutes and then turned it off to give my bread a nice and warm sauna to sit in…at least I had planned on turning the oven off after two minutes.
Everyone got loaded into the car and we headed to the school, and again I was feeling on top of the world knowing my bread was rising in the oven underneath a nice warm towel in a perfectly warmed oven. Fast forward one hour to when we got home from carpool; my oldest opened the door to the house and very nonchalantly says,
“Mom, everything smells like smoke.”
I told her it that it was probably nothing and there was probably something on the floor of the oven I was preheating. Once I entered the house my heart sank. The house was indeed filled with the smell of smoke and when I looked at the lower oven it was still set to 500 degrees. The bread inside the oven, that was supposed to be enjoying it’s gentle rise cycle, was effectively being blow-torched. The damp towel was stiff and black and plastered like drywall across the top of the two very hard, very black loaves of bread. Clearly, the devil was enjoying his holiday at my expense.
I was able to shake off this horrible display of botched baking much better than when I was younger, maybe because I’ve had a lot of practice moving past my air-headed mistakes. I decided that I’d just move on to putting out the candy on our front porch which I bought several weeks in advance, because I’m such a put-together forward thinking mom and all. I pulled the bag down from the top pantry shelf and started pulling out the bags of candy. One bag of candy, two bags of candy, one package of bacon… One. Package. Of. Bacon. Bacon! Bacon that had been sitting on the shelf for weeks and was starting to foam.
So much for being a put together mom. At this point I had to settle for getting the kids in their outfits and doing their hair and makeup and showing up an hour late to our get together.
Thankfully, I was welcomed by warm friends with forgiving hearts, who gave me absolutely no grief about being late or being a ditz. I love my friends. The devil’s holiday turned out just fine as our huge group tromped through the neighborhood like a village, all taking turns counting heads, holding babies, pushing strollers, holding “too heavy” candy buckets and reminding kids to say thank-you. The devil might have gotten some tricks in on me this year but I still got the treat of being with friends who feel like family.