Little Moments: Annual Hayride & Bonfire

Do you have any childhood memories that will live in your heart forever?  I do.  I actually have a lot.  One of my most treasured memories was the annual hayride and bonfire at the Bateman’s house.

Little Moments: Annual Hayride & Bonfire

I know these Little Moments posts are usually about my boys or something I am learning as a mom, but since my boys are too young to hear my story, I thought I’d share it’s specialness with you.

I know a lot of people of faith aren’t exactly sure what to do with Halloween.  Do you celebrate it or do you ignore it? Do you go trick-or-treating or do you go to a party?

My family was just like the rest and struggled a lot with these questions.  We eventually settled on attending our church’s annual hayride and bonfire.

And boy, was it the best memory ever.

It was always the last weekend in October when all the leaves had changed and the weather had turned cold.  Mom and Dad would bundle us up in hoodies and coats and make sure we were wearing long socks and quite possibly long underwear.  My sister and I would throw on our favorite gloves and hats and away we went.

Dad never could exactly find the Bateman’s house though.  (This was before the days of GPS.)  Most of the time we’d drive around until it got dark and we could see the glow of the bonfire.

And I do mean, BONFIRE.

You know those pallets that are everywhere? Pinterest crafters tend to use them for home decorating projects, but they usually are used to stack grain, coal, or some other bulk item. Well, these large wooden pallets were what the Bateman’s bonfire consisted of.  Picture 30 of them thrown in a pile and lit on fire.  This was their bonfire. 🙂

Once we finally got to the Bateman’s, Dad would park on the side of the road because there would be so many people there.  It didn’t matter though.  I’d shoot out of the van and hop over the ditch like it was nothing.  Then I would beg my parents all the way down the path to walk faster. (This may or may not have been the highlight of my year besides Christmas.)

Once we got to the bonfire we were free to roam as we pleased.  There were always a couple folding tables set up around the fire.  One held coffee and hot cocoa and the other ones held donuts.  The adults usually huddled around these tables and talked.

The adventures for the kids was much more exciting. Though, we would sneak over from time to time and get cocoa and donuts too.  But mainly, the highlight of the night for kids was the big candy hunt.

Now, this was no ordinary candy hunt either.  This was a candy hunt that was anticipated the entire month of October.  Our excitement started at the very beginning of the month because that’s when the ginormous candy bowl was put out in our church’s foyer.

At first, the candy bowl sat empty, but as the weeks went by it began to get filled.  With each passing Sunday all the kids would walk by it to see what kind-hearted adult had dropped in more wonderful goodies for us to enjoy.

A couple days before the bonfire, my pastor would ask for volunteers to pack the candy into tiny orange little baggies.  I learned later these bags where what Penny Savers usually came in.  They were the perfect size to sling around and throw into the brush (but we’ll get to that.)

On the night of the bonfire, all the kids would run around trying not to get into too much trouble.  My sister usually went off and talked with her friends. I usually tried to see how close I could get to the fire and not get burned.  But we always made time to go on a hayride with our parents.

We all knew the candy hunt was coming when we’d start seeing adults throwing the little orange bags into the field next to the fire.   The field was a perfect spot for the hunt because of all the hills, dirt, and brush.  Plus, it was dark out and most of us only had tiny flashlights.

After the candy throwing was done, the adults in charge would gather the kids together and announce the rules.  They’d tell us how many bags we each could get and then tell us when we could start looking.

There was no turning back once they said “go.”  We were off like shots – squealing, running, and leaping towards all the bags of wonderfulness.

After the hunt was over, all the kids would gather in small circles and assess their personal hauls of candy.  Once we figured out what we had gotten the trading began.  It was glorious.  The trading allowed us each to walk away with mostly our favorite candy.  I’m sure our parents were thrilled.

The night finally ended when Mom finally admitted she was freezing and Dad would say it’s getting late.  I’d slowly walk back down the path (out of exhaustion) and climb back into the van.

I usually fell asleep before we got home. Perfectly content with a big smile on my face.

The fun only got better once my twin brothers were born, but that’s a story for another time. 🙂

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Sweet mama, I’m not sure how you feel about Halloween or what you are going to do this year to celebrate it.  But I hope whatever you decide to do is something that can become years of happy memories.