As you might be able to tell from my new look, I love Halloween. In fact, everyone in my family loves it, and it was my mother’s favorite holiday, probably because it was the one time of the year she had a legitimate excuse to buy bags and bags of bite-sized Snickers and Almond Joys for at least a month – and all on sale. Our family always went all-out for Halloween, decorating the house and front porch within an inch of our lives for the benefit of trick-or-treaters, while dressing up like extras from Night of the Living Dead when we gave out candy. Because you know there’s nothing like making a 3-year-old in a bed sheet wet his pants while he runs back to his mother, traumatized to the point where years of therapy become necessary.
One year, when my grandparents were decorating for the Big Event, my grandfather decided a noose would be the perfect addition – just what they needed to create the right kind of ambiance. However, he didn’t take two important factors into consideration: the fact their porch was four feet off of the ground and the stupidity of kids in general. Yes, some moron of a darling child stuck his stupid head through the stupid noose and lept off the porch. Don’t worry, he was fine, although my grandparents needed a stiff drink afterwards – and they didn’t drink. I suppose you could say it was a fitting payback for all of those 3-year-olds in bed sheets. It was also the end of the noose as decor.
Halloween was so much fun when I was a kid – we began to anticipate it as soon as school let back in. By the first of October, things were reaching a fever pitch as we began to plan our costumes and plot out our trick-or-treat routes. I don’t think I knew a kid whose parents actually bought them a costume; no siree, we put those puppies together ourselves, begging and borrowing anything we could get from our parents, relatives, siblings and friends. At one point I was so tickled with my costume that I went trick-or-treating as Harpo Marx for three years straight. Nor did I ever own one of those silly plastic pumpkins to carry my candy around in – I by golly took a king-sized pillow case.
When I was a kid, we could actually wear our costumes to school on The Big Day. When we got home, we pestered our moms relentlessly to COOK DINNER because we knew we weren’t stepping foot out that front door until we’d at least made a pretense of eating. Then we’d converge on the neighborhood – the one we actually lived in, thank you very much – and went to every single house. We met our friends and compared costumes and swapped treats and stayed up late and made ourselves sick on candy and it was wonderful.
By the time I had children things were starting to change – we NEVER let them trick-or-treat by themselves, we checked their candy before they were allowed to eat it (some hospitals even offered to x-ray it to make sure nothing was lurking in it that wasn’t supposed to be there), we only went to houses that had the porch lights on, and there were zealously religious households that blared Christian music and handed out tracts telling us how we were all going burn in Hell for allowing our kids to dress up like a Ghostbuster and a ballerina and have a little fun. We knew people who took their kids to “rich” neighborhoods so they could get “good” candy – some of these neighborhoods were so overwhelmed by people from all over the place that no one could drive a car on the streets and some even had to have police come out to direct pedestrian traffic. But it was still Halloween, and still fun.
We don’t decorate now that we’re in Ohio, although we can – and do – program the doorbell to scream for a month. We give out candy, although the trick-or-treaters are few and far between. Why? Because they have completely bastardized the damn holiday, that’s why. Here in Podunk, kids don’t trick-or-treat on Halloween – they trick-or-treat between 3 and 5 in the afternoon on the Sunday BEFORE Halloween. It’s horrible. Atrocious. Disgusting. Pathetic. It’s downright un-American.
It’s just no fun anymore.
So Let’s Have a Contest!
Leave me a comment and tell me about your favorite Halloween memory and you’ll have a chance to win a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.com. Mention my contest and link to my blog from your blog and you’ll be entered twice. The contest is open until 11:59 EDT Friday night, October 3, and I’ll announce the winner Monday morning, October 6.