Halloween has always been my favorite “holiday.” I know it isn’t considered a holiday in the traditional sense, but I spent my childhood waiting all year long for it to make its delightfully eerie appearance once again. If you’ve read my past blogs, you know I have an affinity for mystery stories– so much so, I’d read the entire Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown and Bobbsey Twins books by the time I was through with Kindergarten. These served to inspire my inner ‘’dark side.’’ I adore quivering in my boots. I’m a fan of the hair-raising rush of a good horror film or ghost story, and I used to swear the library in my hometown was haunted, just so I could support the shudders up my spine as I perused the dusty old books. I loved the feeling that someone might be watching me while I read The Secret of The Old Clock. So, needless to say, Halloween was right up my morbid alley. It had nothing to do with the impending sugar rush (which, no doubt, had me catapulting from the rafters). Instead, it was the lure of trick-or-treating my way through a wonderfully spooky night out on the town. I loved trembling in the chilly breeze… and some Connecticut Halloweens were downright colder than a witch’s you-know-what! It was the fun of watching ghosts and goblins glide by in their high-top sneakers, or hearing the cackle of young wizards, gypsies and hippies, as they procured packets of candy corn. It was the sound of fall leaves skittering down the sidewalk, the scent of smoke wafting out from nearby chimneys, and the sight of menacing jack o’ lanterns peering out from the darkness. It was the burst of adrenaline that came when we walked (alright, ran…) by the local cemetery. I was thoroughly beguiled by it all.
I blame this fascination entirely on my mom, who has some of the cleverest costume-making skills of anyone I’ve ever known… and that includes any professional costume designers I’ve worked with in TV or film! She always outdid herself, so we were the envy of every friend, neighbor and classmate. I have vague memories of a year or two I went as something simple, such as a black cat, but those years were few and far between. For example, my earliest Halloween memory is of dressing up as a marionette and attending story-hour at the aforementioned “haunted” library. One year my brother was a cash register, complete with a change drawer that opened for candy storage! Another year, as seen in the photograph above, he was a stoplight. But my favorite was the year my mom made me into a book, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and my brother became my sidekick, the bookworm. It appealed to my amateur novelist sensibilities. Sadly, I could only locate a photo of my brother wearing the costume…
I’m grateful to have grown up in a town where there wasn’t a preoccupation with Halloween being labeled as the “devil’s holiday.” It was just a day when kids could have fun by dressing up and heading out for their donated sugar fix. There weren’t serious safety concerns either. Don’t get me wrong—there were still a few paranoid parents sifting through candy, thanks to the abounding urban legends about razors blades, needles and poison being embedded in Tootsie Rolls. But, for the most part, it was a carefree experience. I miss those days and I foresee a different kind of Halloween with my own daughter. I suspect it will be one that involves trick-or-treating in a controlled environment, with candy being distributed only by familiar faces. I’m a bit bummed about that, to put it mildly.
As an adult, I became obsessed with turning my house into the creepiest on the block. Most years I’ve succeeded, and I’m proud to say kids dare each other to come up to my door to trick-or-treat. I’m sure the looming face of my home, with its dark stonework and pillars, make for an impressive sight. I imagine the realistic graveyard scene in my front yard doesn’t hurt either. It’s enough to make a True Blood fan run out to retrieve a crucifix and garlic. I wonder if the future will reveal that Gray and I share this love for the macabre. Perhaps a decade down the road will see us staking faux tombstones in the grass, and carving ghoulish pumpkins with which to adorn our porch. Maybe I’ll even be creating my own costume masterpieces for her… Ah, I get shivers of excitement just thinking about it! But for now, I’m sticking to the store-bought stuff. It’s hard enough to keep up with the demands of my job, much less to spend the time learning to be seamstress extraordinaire! And since there aren’t a ton of options for infant costumes, Gray is going as a pea in the pod this year… or as I prefer to call it Invasion of the Pod People. I considered buying her an octopus costume, and wearing a shirt that says “mom” on it. That way, we could parade around as an octopus and her “Octomom”. Not terribly PC, but funny nonetheless!
Gray and I wish you and your children the happiest, safest Halloween. May their trick-or-treat bags be full, and their sugar-highs be tame!
Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,
PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!