Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Past

I loved Halloween as a kid. I loved making construction-paper Jack-o-lanterns to hang on the bulletin board at school, working the Halloween themed worksheets in math class, and listening to Miss Pennington, the school librarian, read scary stories during our class library visits. (She probably shouldn't have done that- these were real scary stories that haunted me well into adulthood!) My Gran lived just down the street from us, and on October 1st, she let me dig out the plain Jack-o-lantern that hung on her front door- her one concession to the season. My mom was never much into holiday decorating, but we had a scarecrow Jack-o-lantern that hung on our front door every year too.

My mom was never much for costumes either. If I had to be in any school play during the previous year, there was next year's Halloween costume. This meant that for several years, I was a Pilgrim, an angel, and an elf for Halloween. My mom can be very creative, however, and when I was in first grade, she made me a clown costume out of pink bedsheets with a yarn wig and yarn pom-poms down the front. It was the first and only year I've won a costume contest. I loved the pink clown costume, but I'm sure my brothers did not, since they later had to be pink clowns too. They should just count themselves lucky that even my mom drew the line at angels and Pilgrim girls.

We lived in a huge neighborhood full of friends (and enemies) from school, and my siblings and I roamed freely during afternoons and weekends. There were simply too many houses to cover in one evening of Trick-or-Treating though, so we had to plot our course carefully to make sure we hit the most promising targets. Our first Trick-or-Treat stop was always my Gran's house. Every year, she bought a huge bag of Smarties to give out, and she never once ventured any further down the candy aisle. I'm not positive why she chose Smarties, but they did make good purse candy during long church services. But the most likely reason is that Smarties are cheap and... well, my whole family is cheap. Anyway, Gran oohed and aahed over our costume reincarnations, gave us Smarties- and sometimes even a special Halloween desert- and then we were off in search of the good stuff. We were supposed to be home by 8:00, which seemed terribly early, but by then, our bags were too heavy to carry anyhow.

I was a candy-sorter. I sorted all candy into brands and then into colors. I took full advantage of my little brothers, who were easy marks for my candy scams. It was a good set-up. I didn't realize then that my parents had their own scam going as well. I remember the terrible pang of disappointment upon waking the next morning to find out it was a school morning. What was up with that? Didn't the school understand that we needed a day to recover and eat our candy? We always made resolutions to ration our candy in a futile attempt to make it last until we could get restocked at Christmas, but the only one who was disciplined enough to do it was my stepbrother, Casey. He gloated over the rest of us when we were all down to the weird peanut butter candies while he still had good stuff like Snickers and orange-and-black Red Hots.

I loved Halloween as a kid, but I believe I'm turning into the Grinch of Halloween as an adult. I am my mother, and I don't need a costume. By the time October 31 actually gets here, I'm more than ready to move on. Now please excuse me... there's candy in the kitchen!

1 comment:

~ Stephanie. said...

Plastic masks that made your face sweat. The big plastic orange pumpkin with the black strap for collecting sweets and goodies. Returning home to dump it all out in the floor and organize your haul. Trading bubble gum for Hershey bars with my little sister. Oh, the memories.