As the air becomes chilly and the leaves turn orange, I’m reminded of my forever love for fall. Fall brings sweaters, hot cocoa, and memories of Halloweens past.
In my first memory of Halloween, I am wrapped in a sheet, nearly sheer with a year’s wear. I’m excitedly peering through a large cut-out hole as I stumble getting out of the backseat of our 1970-something Pontiac. I eagerly rush to a random front door, toting a folded paper grocery sack that was nearly as large as myself. I feel the trill of shouting “trick-n-treat” as candy is generously dropped into my sack.
That memory will stay with me forever. I can relive it as if it were yesterday. Holidays were simply so thrilling when I was a child.
Growing up, we didn’t have extra luxuries. My parents both worked so hard to provide for us. Because we didn’t have the money to purchase store-bought costumes, my sister and I were usually either ghosts or witches. Witch costumes usually consisted of a store bought hat, crumpled with wear at the end of the night, and a black trash bag. The makeup my mother artfully applied to our little-kid faces more than made up for any embarrassment we might have felt wearing a trash bag. Even back then, there was no thrill like eye shadow and lipstick.
Those were the days in which Halloween was an all-day affair. The party started as soon as we arrived in school, with some kids even wearing their costumes to school. As I look back, I cringe thinking how difficult that day must have been for teachers! These days, even hat-day can cause a disruption like no other! There weren’t just “fall parties”, there were Halloween parties with homemade decorated cupcakes. Nearly always, someone in the class got sick from gorging themselves.
In those awkward hours between school and trick-or-treating, we decorated grocery bags with markers and crayons. Drawing on a bag was such a treat! When finished, Mom would roll the edges of the bag downward so that our little hands could grasp it better.
As the time change happened much earlier back then, darkness came quickly. I was so excited about trick-or-treating, that I was barely able to stomach my favorite meal…Mom’s homemade macaroni and cheese casserole. Back then, mac and cheese didn’t come from a box.
Once we were safely loaded into the car (sans seatbelts) we traveled along a planned route to several different houses. Because we didn’t live in a subdivision, we had to stop at each individual house. As there were no mega-subdivisions of today, trick-or-treating took much longer and was much less productive. We were excited if the bottom of our enormous grocery bag was covered. After all, are there even any kids that eat the entire bag-full they collect these days?
Home and tired, Daddy always insisted on “checking” our candy. These days, I realize that “checking” the candy meant eating all of his favorite pieces. Candy was always a treat. My parents didn’t buy it often.
There was the one Halloween when I was absolutely heart-broken. I woke up with a stomach virus on that very day. I thought the world would end because I couldn’t trick-or-treat! I couldn’t even fathom it. However, my parents saved Halloween. My own personal Halloween was a couple of days later. Little did I know, then, that my parents had pre-arranged all of the stops, so that people would be prepared with candy. I remember being so amazed that Halloween hadn’t been ruined.
No wonder Halloween has such a place in my heart. In those days, Halloween wasn’t about having a fancy costume. It wasn’t about mountains of candy. Halloween wasn’t scary and there was no cloud of negativity that overshadowed the holiday. Halloween was the celebration of fall. It was about tradition and time spent together as a family.
Sometimes, I wonder if the kids today are missing out as they are carted to subdivisions wearing their most elaborate costumes. Then I realize that, although times have changed, today’s kids will look back on Halloween with the same fond memories that us older kids-at-heart have today.
To all of my readers, have a safe fun-filled Halloween. Remember to treasure the memories of yesterday as you make new ones!