Halloween has always been my favorite holiday though there are some who don’t actually consider it a holiday. Then there are those who think it is evil; they think that anything that involves witches, ghosts, mummies and the like has to be associated with darkness. But not me. For one thing, I do not believe a ghost or witch is evil in and of itself. It’s the intention of something that creates evil. You could go to church every Sunday, do kind deeds, and be honest on everything you do, yet if you do these things without good intentions, it means nothing. That’s why I don’t buy into the reasoning that Halloween is evil. Anything could be evil if that is the goal, and my take on Halloween is that it is fun.
My childhood memories of Halloween are good; they are bits of happiness in a somewhat turbulent and unhappy childhood. No matter how much or little money we had, we always celebrated each holiday(save St. Patrick’s Day and St. Valentine’s Day) with all the proper trimmings. There was always a juicy turkey on the table at Thanksgiving, plenty of presents and a real Christmas tree at Christmas, filled Easter baskets at Easter (there were eight kids in my family, so eight Easter baskets!) But none of them brought me the happiness that Halloween did. There was no pressure to get the right gift, no scurrying to help cook a dinner on, no clean-up and no pressure. I especially liked going to the local five and dime (anyone remember TG&Y?) on Saturdays with my parents and seeing the Halloween decorations and smelling the sweet smell of plastic and rubber from the Halloween masks mingled with the smell of chocolate candy lined up in bags on the shelves. We always had a Halloween party at home almost every Halloween, something I enjoyed almost as much as trick-or-treating.
Halloween costumes were usually of the homemade variety, one year I was a gypsy, wearing some of my mom’s huge clip-on hoop earrings. Other times I was Cinderella from one of our rare store-bought costumes, another year I was a hobo and another I was a pioneer girl in a dress that my Aunt hand-made for me. My trick-or-treat bag was usually a big paper grocery bag that got at least half-full. My older brothers usually came home with a completely full grocery bag of candy, the result of hours or trick-or-treating.
I love the smell of Fall anyway, but on Halloween it is especially great. Cold, clear air mixed with the earthy smell of leaves and candy wrappers. I loved traipsing through the crisp colorful leaves when I trick-or-treated, not knowing what to expect at each door I visited. Some would give apples, some popcorn balls, some wax lips or chocolate candy. I also didn’t know if I would encounter a mummy or witch answering the door. And when it was over, I would love spreading my candy out to see what I got. There would be some scary movie on the TV, and I would end up going to bed late, school night or not.
Halloween was always to me a night of mostly fun (ok,it wasn’t totally perfect—our house got toilet papered a couple of times on Halloween!) and I’ve tried to pass that appreciation on to my children. They no longer trick-or-treat, though I have memories of trick-or-treating when they were small. I especially loved it when they were babies and I could dress them in adorable costumes. And taking my then-five year old son trick or treating around a neighborhood in a small town we were living in was especially fun. I met an interesting lady who introduced us to her five cats and another family who had fake leg parts sitting on tables with all sorts of interesting treats laid out on tables with the assorted parts. My husband recognized the lady who lived there because she was standing outside handing out candy—she was one of his co-workers! Then there were some who poo-pooed Halloween altogether, saying “We’re not trick or treating”(with a grim face no less) when we arrived enthusiastically at her doorstep for candy. My son asked me, “Mommy why is that woman so mean?” when we scooted away from the sour-faced lady’s house. “Some people just don’t like Halloween” I mumbled to myself as we scooted along in the night air. As I looked back at the woman’s house, I thought of what a boring person she must be to not like Halloween. But then I smiled. It didn’t matter that she didn’t like Halloween. All that mattered was that we did.