Way back when my husband & I were first married, we were the creeps on the street who turned our lights off on Halloween. We weren’t trying to be nasty adults; we just felt that in a society that tended to err on the side of over-consumption, sending children out to fill plastic pumpkins with sugar seemed over the top. We hid the holiday from our oldest child for a couple of years – one year going to a cabin, one year simply going to bed. But last year we started what will hopefully become our Halloween tradition.
A week or so before Halloween we made fall lanterns. They sat dark in our kitchen for the nights leading up to Halloween. The day before Halloween, we carved jack-o-lanterns. These, too, sat dark in our kitchen. I can’t say when, but sometime during the afternoon of Halloween the pumpkins went missing. (And yes, they were missed.) As twilight set in, we ceremoniously lit our autumn lanterns and paraded up to our forest. (We live in town on a half-acre. We do have a wee patch of woods in our back yard, but to our son, it’s a forest.) And what did we find? Jack-o-lanterns a-glow among the stumps. With darkness settling, we sat and watched our flames and listened for our neighborhood great horned owl. What next? Tell a story, sing a song, drink hot cider, or simply be. To me, that is magic.
You too can make your own autumn lantern! It’s easy and beautiful. Dig out an old Mason jar (any size will work but the small, squat ones are perfect for smaller hands). Unearth some tissue paper – you can use white and paint it with autumnal colors after it’s affixed to the lantern, or go ahead and use red, orange and yellow tissue paper. Paint the jar with Mod-Podge. Stick on the tissue paper. Let dry. Paint another coat or two of Mod-Podge, letting it dry between coats. If you’ve used white tissue paper, paint it. Twist a thin-gauge wire around the neck of the jar to make a handle. Place a tea light in the jar (a bit of sand will hold it in place nicely) and behold: autumnal magic.