Dear Halloween…

Life is Good.  Sweet & Short.
  And the Ordinary truly is the Extraordinary…

Dear Halloween,
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.

Love,
Emma Ann

About winebeforefive

"If I had my life to live over... But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute... look at it and really see it ... live it...and never give it back." -- Erma Bombeck “If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. but the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. i'll always be with you.” -- from Winnie the Pooh “I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” -- Laura Ingalls Wilder “Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.” -- Dr. Seuss
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12 Responses to Dear Halloween…

  1. Sue says:

    I so enjoyed your halloween memories. It left me with a holllow hole in my heart, as you are so right…the innocence is gone. Once again, thanks again for a wonderful read!

    • Oh, I don’t think the innocence is truly “gone,” Sue — but we adults need to bring back the Fun of Halloween! The wonderful corn mazes and hayrides out into the pumpkin patches still abound – and if anything are growing all the time. There is hope!!! :)

  2. Did we grow up in the same town…I mean even the same costumes….and, yes, the pillow cases and brown grocery sacks…the same ones that we put popcorn in when we all piled in the car to go to the drive-in movies…yes, Halloween has changed, and I so miss the yesteryear version…some things dn’t get better w/age…thanks for taking me down that wonderful memory lane journey…I relished every word you wrote!! xo Ally

  3. Chris says:

    I agree! I do miss some of those little cuties, though. I moved from an area where I might have 75 little goblins ringing my dorbell on Halloween night to 0. Yep. One of the perks of living out in the sticks.
    Chris

    • Same here, Chris! We used to have oodles of little people, and even would put a lovely cape or hat on our sweet lab who helped hand out treats. But now, out in the country, Halloween is just another quiet day!

  4. I was never really into Halloween, even as a kid. Enjoyed staying home and giving out the treats more than dressing up to get them. Don’t know why but to this day I don’t decorate for Halloween, love fall…favorite season- but Halloween could skip my house too. I will admit to recalling the many years of my children and their costumes made by me. Thank you for reminding me that there is fun to be had and memories to be made even in those times not held in such high affection. Great read.

    • Yes, Charlesy Jane, staying home and handing out the treats was always wayyy more fun, and now that you’ve mentioned that, you’ve jogged another good memory I have of Halloween from the past. Seeing my little nephews and nieces dressed in their costumes – often with their not-dressed-up parents standing right behind them – in my parents’ living room, while my parents and I “guessed” — always incorrectly — who they really were, then dropping their treats in their bags, was far more fun than being the “trick-or-treater” myself. One Halloween, when our son was about three, he, too, decided it was most fun to dress up but sit on our porch steps with me and hand out the candy. A policeman was stationed on our street, and little Walter insisted on taking him a treat, too. That, to me, should be the spirit of Halloween… Thanks for the good note, and the two good memories you brought.

  5. Jen LC says:

    I agree with you about the overly trampy costumes and the gory movies, but wanted to add that there are still some places where Halloween is still pretty wholesome. I have loved making costumes for our girls, 5 and 2, who will be Annie Oakley and a little lamb this year. :)

    We’re fortunate that our neighborhood has a great trick-or-treat night that includes lots of neighbors visiting from driveway to driveway and even sharing (gasp) some homemade treats instead of mass-produced sugar. There’s even a neighborhood Halloween party before the official beggars’ night to let the kids wear their costumes more than once.

    I know that every neighborhood doesn’t have the luxury of street lights and friendly neighbors, but when you’re being bombarded by the yuck of modern-day Halloween, maybe thinking about there still being a few pockets of fun left out there will make you smile. :)

    • Jen, Thank you for the positive comments! Yes, I know in our son & daughter-in-law’s neighborhood, there is just such a night, where the neighbors gather in driveways and the street lights make it a safe evening for the little ones. How I’d love to see your Annie Oakley and little lamb! Give them hugs from Emma Ann, please.

      Some churches, I’ve seen, are also beginning to do “Trunk or Treat” in their parking lots to keep that tradition of a safe holiday alive for the little ones.

      Your words are so welcome and appreciated. Your concept of Halloween is the one I like & plan to keep in my mind today and tomorrow, and in future years as well!
      Emma Ann

  6. sam says:

    We had a ball during Halloween, the rain and tromping through the wet leaves even made it better. I came from a family of six, we had the same costumes every year we just switched with each other. The hobo was our favorite. Each halloween we begged mom to get out the halloween box (cardboard box). We gathered in the living room and argued about who was wearing what this year….those were the days..

    • Love this comment – I think I was a hobo every single year – don’t remember any other costume! Pretty sure you’ve still got a good stash of Halloween costume items at your house… Me, too, but mine are all for little people under about age 8! You’re the only person I know, Sam, who can still outfit people of any age for Halloween… :)

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