Time to prepare for celebrations

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After going to work in the dark every morning this week I am convinced winter is only just around the corner.

Not only has it been dark, it has been cold, wet and downright miserable.

The nights are definitely drawing in and the sun is taking longer and longer to get up in the morning, just like me.

I am sure I am fitted with a solar panel somewhere on my body and that I only work best when it is nice, bright and warm with plenty of hours of daylight.

This weekend sees the clocks go back, meaning the mornings and nights will soon be even darker. Up until this point in the season I have been thinking summer has only just left us and have very much still been in a buoyant, holiday sort of mood.

But my tan has most definitely faded now. The summer clothes are now lurking at the back of the wardrobe and holiday time and outdoor swimming are a distant memory of the past. Sun creams seem a vaguely ridiculous idea now.

The other day my childminder even told me there are less than nine weeks left to Christmas, which made me suck in my breath very sharply.

As a kid I was always so giddy at this time of year. I couldn’t wait for the dark nights to come as this meant celebrations. Not only was there the ultimate Christmas to look forward to, but on the way was Halloween and Bonfire Night as well.

As the nights got darker I was counting down the days to my favourite part of the year. I would be making Halloween costumes from the end of September for me and my toys and hoping that this year I would be allowed to have a special Halloween party at my own home.

I envied the children whose birthday fell near this time of year as they had the perfect excuse to have a fancy dress party – which was my favourite type of bash (and still is!). Their parents must have been so glad they didn’t have to think about what theme they needed for their offspring’s birthday as this was sorted.

A quick collection of sweets from obliging neighbours willing to ‘trick or treat’ then back home for brilliant games including bobbing apples, winky murder (bit like murder in the dark only with winking) and of course the best fancy dress competition. One time I played a game where you had to put apple seeds from bobbed-for apples on your cheeks then look in a mirror by candle light and apparently the image of your future spouse would be revealed. Rather than anyone being revealed we of course used this game as a ruse to freak everyone out by pretending to be ghosts.

Bonfire Night was always such an exciting build-up as well. For what seemed like weeks beforehand the sky would be occasionally lit up by a beautiful explosion, set off by some over-excited youngster who couldn’t wait for the official night.

Bangers would reverberate around the neighbourhood and no-one batted an eye. Any foreign visitor must have though how weird we were – becoming excited by what any other nation may well assume to be gunfire.

The smell in the air seemed to change as well when I was a child. Gone was the smell of the barbecue, which wafted endlessly through the back door through the many long summer months. It was replaced instead with proper warm cooking smells. Burgers and apple turnovers.

You would think now I am armed with three small children the excitement I felt as a child would be back as I relive it all again through their eyes. But it appears the opposite is true. Instead I dread this time of year as it all seems to be so vastly expensive.

It starts with my son’s birthday at the beginning of October and doesn’t end until after Easter in April. In that time I seem to spend every penny I have on other people – with all the children’s and the other half’s birthdays falling in this time, not to mention Christmas and other festivities. I don’t want to sound mean but I dread going into the supermarkets at this time of year wondering what gaudy things my children will spot and clamour to me, saying they ‘must’ have it as they ‘really need it, mummy.’

Luckily there is a free event happening next week in Sheffield – Fright Night. This Sheffield City Council-backed event is the country’s biggest-ever Halloween carnival and it hits the streets this Sunday, October 28, just ahead of Halloween next week. With half term next week this is a great way to kick off the kids’ holiday. For information visit: www.yellowbusevents.co.uk