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Creative Nonfiction Funny Happy

One of my happiest memories of growing up in Sydney was during Hallowe’en. I considered my cousin Georgie one of the luckiest persons I knew, his birthday was October 31 - Hallowe’en! He not only had a birthday party, but he was the only one I knew that had fireworks at his party. 

On the day of the party, we would all gather in my aunt’s living room which was separated from the dining room by an archway with bookshelves on either side. Because we weren’t allowed in the dining room until much later, we would try to peak in, but all we could see was a curtain of orange and black streamers with spiders and bats dangling and blocking our entrance from the dining room. 

In the living room, aunt Annie had games for us to play such as bingo, post office and spin the bottle with lots of prizes to win. After the games were finished, we’d follow Annie into the hallway to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey. The hallway was narrow so we had to be extra careful not to bump into the telephone table and knock the phone from its cradle. There was always someone who would manage to do just that. When it was our turn, Annie would put a blindfold over our eyes, spin us around a couple of times and then point us in the direction of the Donkey. We’d laugh hysterically at where the tail ended up, any place but where it was supposed to land.

When each child had their turn, Annie showed us to the dining room via the kitchen. There was always lots of giggles as we passed through a second curtain of streamers and creepy things dangling from the doorway. The table was decorated with Hallowe’en napkins, party favours and name tags. A funny hat was placed in front of each chair, one for each of child to wear. We scrambled to our seats, everyone trying to get closer to Georgie but Annie would check to make sure we were seated in our proper place. A special chair was decorated for the Birthday Boy and was usually placed at the head of the table.  

After everyone was seated and in their proper place, Annie brought in plates of hot dogs, fancy sandwiches and the normally forbidden soda pop. When we finished wolfing down the hot dogs and sandwiches, Annie came in with the birthday cake, candles all aglow. This was the signal for everyone to sing Happy Birthday to Georgie. He would make a wish, blow out the candles and 

Annie would carefully cut the cake giving each child a large slice. We ate the cake with gusto, being sure to end up with a moustache of frosting around our mouth. There was always someone that would fall off their chair in gales of laughter. 

Annie would take charge ushering everyone into the kitchen where we’d sit in a circle on the kitchen floor. We would watch as Georgie tore the wrappings off his gifts, patiently waiting for him to open the gift that we had brought. There would be toy trucks and cars, boxed games and puzzles and there would always be a pair of hand-knit mitts or socks from his grandmother. Georgie always seemed pleased with his gifts even though he may not have been so thrilled about getting mitts or socks from his grandmother. 

When the gift giving was finished, Annie cleared the floor. Each child would be given a towel and we’d bob for apples. I hated the part where I had to duck my face underwater so I usually managed to find an apple with the stem poking up so I could catch it with my teeth. After bobbing for apples, we would dry 

ourselves off and sit around on the kitchen floor. I’m sure it was Annie’s way of getting us and the kitchen floor cleaned at the same time.

We’d sit around laughing as we ate our apples. Suddenly we’d hear a tap tap tapping sound at the window. All eyes were suddenly riveted to that window as a scary looking figure passed in front of it. Footsteps could be heard coming up the stairs onto the verandah, the storm door creaked and the inner door swung open. A figure dressed as a witch appeared in front of us. She had a big black mole on the end of her nose. On her head she wore a tall pointed hat with a black gauze veil covering her face. She carried an old wicker basket over her arm. Too scared to move, we’d crunch closer to aunt Annie who pretended that she was just as scared as we were. 

The old witch never identified herself but quietly sat down on the floor 

beside us. She opened up her basket, reached inside and brought out a book and began to read stories about haunted houses, hooting owls and black cats. When she finished reading, she got up and without another word she’d disappear out the back door leaving us children spellbound and speechless. There was 

always some brave boy who would jump up to peek out the window just as the witch disappeared down the lane. For years we wondered who the mysterious witch was. Annie never let on that she knew. It wasn’t until many years later that we discovered it was Georgie’s older sister, who dressed up as the witch and thrilled us with her Hallowe’en stories.

To top the evening off, we filed outside while George’s older brother shot fireworks off into the sky signifying the end of the party. When the fireworks were completed, the children would leave for home so that they could get ready to go ‘Trick or Treating’.

During these special times, I usually stayed overnight and went Trick or Treating with my cousins. My mother usually packed my dress-up clothes in an old pillow case, later to serve as a bag to carry my treats in. Georgie’s sister Doreen and I would dress up in old dresses with lots of beads and old jewelry. With a scarf around our heads and lots of makeup on, we would go as two 

gypsies. George would dress up as a Hobo complete with his fathers suspenders to hold up his britches. We’d go door to door for what seemed like hours. Our pillow cases would be so full, they’d drag on the ground. At this point, we’d trudge back down the lane to their house with our treasures. 

We spent hours counting how many treats we got. There were 

hallowe’en kisses, jelly beans, popcorn, bags of fudge and toffee apples. Far too much for us to eat that night. Aunt Annie would call upstairs. “It’s time for you children to get dressed and ready for bed. Lights out in ten minutes”. We’d pack our treats into our pillow cases, get our pyjamas on and go off to bed dreaming about the best birthday party ever and the very best Hallowe’en yet, wishing that Hallowe’en could be every day.

July 16, 2021 13:44

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3 comments

H L McQuaid
07:54 Jul 22, 2021

Sounds like a great party, George was very lucky! Just fyi: The spacing of some your paragraphs went a bit wonky (the last sentence was continued on the next paragraph). Probably too late to fix on Reedsy, but for your next story, have a read over it once it's published, because sometimes Reedsy does weird formatting stuff that we can't see until it's published.

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Lauren Seaton
18:14 Jul 22, 2021

Thank you for your comments. Yes, I noticed it once I saw it on Reedsy and I couldn't correct it. However, when I sent it to Reedsy, there were no spaces so it happened when Reedsy posted it.

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H L McQuaid
08:00 Jul 23, 2021

You can click 'edit' to change your post as much as you like before the story is approved. Sometimes there are 'hidden' paragraph breaks. I go through and make sure there aren't any extra spaces/breaks by deleting any paragraph breaks, and then I reinsert them. Then I post again and see if that fixed it. May take a few times of editing, posting, and reviewing before the formatting looks the way I want it to.

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