Life is Good. Sweet & Short.
And the Ordinary truly is the Extraordinary…
When I was a little girl, you provided lots of giggles on dark & starry nights as friends, cousins and I carried our brown paper grocery sacks or old pillowcases door-to-door, wearing our made-up costumes from old clothes found in the backs of closets, trunks, and cedar chests, and inexpensive masks from the local Five & Ten Cent Store. At each house, we’d knock on the door, the friendly neighbors would open it up, feign surprise at the sight of costumed & masked children, invite us in, then spend a few minutes guessing who we were with questions answered only with silent nods or shakes of the head (and giggles – lots of giggles.) Best of all was when the adults would say “I give up! Who are you?!” We’d giggle (more) slip off our masks, they’d cry out “Oh my goodness!!!” laugh and smile, tell us how clever we were to fool them, then give us a candy bar, & send us on our way to repeat the performance at house after house. We were lucky — small town kids who knew who lived in just about every house in town, and they knew us, too. It added to the fun.
When my own children were little, you, Dear Halloween, remained lots of fun. I usually sewed their costumes – enjoying every moment of their choosing who they wanted to be, selecting just the right fabrics & fun add-ons, and creating something with thoughts of all the fun they would soon have. There were sometimes classroom parties, and in one school district the rule was for each child to arrive dressed as his or her favorite book character. Imagine that! Learning while having fun!
My favorite costume creation at our house was one that seemed to take on a life of its own. Initially, a soft & fleecy fabric was made into a bunny costume. A couple of years later, with the addition of black patches and new ears plus a replaced tail, it became a dog costume. Not long after, it became — with lots of additions of tawny-gold fabric and yarn for a mane — a lion’s outfit. The following year, altered yet again, it was turned into yet another animal for a church Christmas pageant. I think that costume still lives in a box somewhere in this big old farmhouse, bits and pieces of it intact & others missing – looking like a strange bunny-dog-lion creature that would confuse any of today’s trick-or-treaters.
Even when Walter & Wilma were in high school, there was creativity involved in the costumes. Our daughter once made herself a Hershey’s Kiss by wrapping up in aluminum foil & tying some sort of ribbon in her hair. With the proper hat and old leather jacket pulled from a closet, our son became Indiana Jones one year & with a white sailor’s cap and plain old tee shirt, Gilligan another. OK, so maybe Walter opted for less creativity than Wilma did, but still, the idea of “making” a costume was intact. Besides, his somewhat cynical nature by that age required he only go half-way in celebrating the holiday.
Halloween, back then, you were fun.
I’m sorry to say this, but Halloween of the millennium, I really don’t like you anymore.
Oh, I make cute little decorated treat bags of candy for the neighbor’s grandchildren, a young niece and two special little girls, and I think they all look adorable in their costumes.
But you, Halloween, you yourself – well, you have changed.
I don’t like blood & gore, chainsaws, slutty cop costumes, or serious fright, or movies about vicious violence. I don’t even really like store-bought costumes — but I know, not everyone wants to – or has time to – pull out the creativity and make a costume. But when did you become about sexy vamps with blood dripping from some extremity? When did pre-schoolers dressing up as ghouls become “fun?” When did the costumes begin taking on the price tags of a designer handbag?
I am a dud in the world of Halloween, I know. A first class Dud.
I love Autumn. Harvest, Hayrides, Corn Mazes, Hot Cider, Beautiful Trees, Bonfires, Pumpkins and Gourds, and then best of all, Thanksgiving.
But Halloween, you can skip my house this year. You’re just not really much fun anymore.
Wanting to end on a happy note, though, I’ll share the tale of my favorite Trick-or-Treater — other than my own children. One dark Halloween evening about 25 or 30 years ago, a little boy who was probably about 4 years old sauntered up our front walk with his best Cowboy Swagger. Decked out in blue jeans, a plaid shirt, a brown fringed vest with toy Sheriff’s star, cowboy boots and hat plus a simple black eye mask, he stopped just short of our steps where we sat with a big bowl of candy treats. Pulling out his toy gun, with the cutest little grin ever, he drawled, “Trick or treat… Pardner!”
Now Dear Halloween, that’s what it’s supposed to be all about. At least in the Land of Emma Ann. Imagination, and fun.