Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The day of spooks and goblins

I look around at stores full of all kinds of stuff to decorate for Halloween, my favorite holiday, and all the costumes available in all kinds of sizes.  I am amazed at the huge Halloween specific stores that crop up around town beginning in September but I do love prowling in them.  Even Walgreen's gets into the act.  All this is so different from my own experience growing up or even that of my children.

When I was growing up, costumes came from closets or cedar chests.  I remember being so proud to wear a red skirt and gold blouse that my mother had worn to a costume party on her first date with my dad.  She went as a gypsy and so did I borrowing her earrings.  Perhaps that was the initiation or the first awakening of my gypsy soul.  I don't remember a parent going trick or treating with us except maybe when I was only 5 or 6.  After that I went with a group and as we got older the boundaries expanded covering about 5 or 6 blocks.  And the treats were homemade...popcorn balls, cookies, fudge all wrapped in wax paper...maybe some Fleer's Double Bubble after the war was over.  The loot was gathered in a paper grocery bag and hauled home where it went into a big bowl and shared with the whole family.  Sometimes an apple might be given but fruit was pretty scarce during the war years.  At 10 or 11 we got very brave and if someone refused to answer their door and we were sure they were at home because we could see them or lights on, we would take white chalk and mark up their window screens or throw flour on their porch and run away really fast.  Our mothers never knew about this activity. 

When my children were small, I couldn't wait for Halloween to decorate the house with carved pumpkins and make-believe spider webs.  It was such fun and such a challenge to create the costumes my kids would dream up.  When my son was 11 or 12, he wanted to go as Geraldine aka Flip Wilson from Saturday night live.  He could do a hilarious imitation of Geraldine and we blew up balloons for boobs under his T-shirt and he wore one of his sister's skirts.  It was the fashion to add hair pieces so I loaned him my "fall" of long frosted hair.  He was so funny!  Now that would never happen as he would have been teased as being "gay" but back then his friends just enjoyed the joke knowing that he was definitely a "straight" guy. 
My daughter always came up with some interesting ideas.  Once she wanted to be a cloud so she wore white tights and T-shirt and somehow I located some white angel hair which I glued on a white sandwich board shaped like a cloud.  We rigged up something white for her head and off she went, a happy camper.  The next year she wanted to be a lemon...go figure...now how many kids want to be a lemon?  I am still not sure what that was all about but again we worked it out using green tights and a yellow long sleeve shirt and a yellow poster board sandwich with yellow ribbon ties at the shoulder and sides.
They would come home with quite a haul that after my going over all of it went in a big bowl on top of the refrigerator where I would snitch the good chocolate occasionally and the remaining unliked stuff would be thrown out just before Christmas.  I will never forget that terrible crime in Pasadena, Texas where the dad poisoned his own son's Hallween candy years ago when my son was just a baby.  Then someone put razor blades in apples somewhere...how in the world could a mind get so warped!  So sad but now everyone checks their children's candy bags and accompany them trick or treating.  So sad that the world has become unsafe for children in so many ways.
I will get to accompany my son's children for the first time this year on the first day in their new house.  No Halloween cookies made this year.  Maybe next.