I awoke to a grey and rainy day here in the Northwest. It was difficult to tell that it was actually morning as the sky remains dark and ominous. It’s perfect! Now that I don’t have little kids, the idea of the rain on Halloween is not at all disappointing. We will make a fire, we will listen to Allen Parson’s Project’s Tales of Mystery & Imagination. We’ll read Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven (and maybe The Cask of Amantillado).
And we will make spudnuts.
But first, the explanation: My small town upbringing was charming in so many ways. We knew our neighbors, we walked to school. It was a safe and Rockwell-ian piece of the American pie. One of my all-time favorite memories is of my maternal grandmother, who lived with us, making spudnuts (think potato bread fried into doughnuts) every Halloween for the kids in town.
She would start first thing in the morning and our kitchen would be magically transformed, for the entire day, into a doughnut shop, where ALL THE DOUGHNUTS WERE FREE! My friends and I would gladly eat the hot, sticky treats all day long. Young stomachs are guts of steal. I have no idea how we did it without dire consequences. Grandma literally made hundreds of these delicacies. If my memory serves me, they were so fluffy and light, to pick one up was to have it begin to melt even before it made it to one’s mouth.
Nearly 20 years ago I started the same tradition in my own home. While we’ve never lived in a place it would have been appropriate to make the homemade treats for visiting kids, we would make the spudnuts for family, friends and neighbors, making it into a party. I would keep the kids home from school and all day long we would enjoy the traditions we still enjoy today.
I have delicious memories of all of my children with me, in the kitchen, making doughnuts and moaning when I got out the poetry book. Later, when the kids were costumed and ready for family and friends to descend upon the house, I would force them to eat an actual meal, though looking back I wonder if they received any real nutrition despite my efforts.
Today is a calmer day. We live so far out in the country that Trick-or-Treaters are a non-issue. Three of my five children are grown and gone. And yet, the traditions live on!
Under these rainy skies, if you come to my kitchen this day, you will find, albeit a smaller doughnut shop, a doughnut shop nonetheless! Max and Chase are happy participants in working in this one day family business. There will be Edgar Allen Poe. There will be too many treats.
Zoë called last night asking for the recipe. Though she is many miles away, she is creating a day that is quite similar to the one she grew up with.
My grandmother died when Zoë was just a baby. Even before that it had been many years since she had made the confections. So it pleases me no end to think of her cornflower blue eyes and her award winning whistle, the puffy doughnuts in a warm autumn kitchen. Although my children didn’t know her, she is an unseen influence in their lives, not to mention of their taste buds.
I love Halloween. I love the cute kids in costumes and the sense of community. I love the sugary treats and I love the traditions. I love making doughnuts and adore the fact that my kids remain active participants. The best part of every Halloween is that in a very real way, we’re conjuring ghosts. Thanks, Grandma.