We typically eschew the un-holiday of Halloween. Although I recognize the pagan roots of other holidays, like Christmas or Easter, they have at least been tamed down and been made meaningful. Halloween, on the other hand, holds absolutely no spiritual meaning for our family, and has even lost its usefulness as a “cultural” holiday. We did the trick-or-treat thing for a couple of years when the boys were small, but we even stopped taking trick-or-treaters when truly gruesome creatures started coming to our door. We don’t really like things that celebrate fear and death, not to mention gorging on sugar. So we have ignored the holiday, spent that night out at anchor, or gone to “Fall Festivals” that have nothing to do with Halloween.
But this year, we decided to start our own tradition. People all around us expect a boatful of children to be dressed up and going out begging for candy, so we did the unexpected. We baked pumpkin cookies and putted all over Boot Key Harbor in the dinghy delivering treats to friends’ boats. They were so surprised and pleased—the kids got more pleasure out of the happy responses than they ever would have out of a bucket of candy. Really. They didn’t come home empty-handed, either, as one friend ducked back into his cabin and came back with beads (leftovers from Fantasy-Fest in Key West) and candy and granola bars for the kids. Nothing’s better than an unexpected treat.
It was fun, took the focus off of what everyone else was doing, and gave us an opportunity to leave things better than we found them, so I think we’ll do it again next year if we’re in a place that does Halloween. I have included the cookie recipe here, but I take no credit for it—I owe many thanks to my sister-in-law in Atlanta for her yummy treats.
Soft Pumpkin Cookies
Prep time: 1 hour
Makes: 3 1/2 dozen
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. butter (or 1/2 c. butter + 1/2 c. coconut oil)
1 c. cooked, puréed pumpkin (canned is fine)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour (whole wheat is fine)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. chopped nuts
Cream butter and sugars. Add egg, pumpkin, and vanilla; mix until creamy. Whisk together dry ingredients; add all at once to pumpkin mixture. Add nuts if desired. Bake at 350˚ for 10-12 minutes. Frost when cooled completely (or, for a glazed cookie, frost when warm).
Cream Cheese Frosting: 1/4 c. cream cheese, 1 c. powdered sugar, 1-2 T. milk. Soften cream cheese, add sugar/milk alternately until mixture is spreadable.