I love Halloween. I always have. As a child, I loved the way that my mother would read us Poe (remind me to tell all of you one day about the time I heard the neighbors repairing their roof a couple hours after a dramatic reading of The Tell Tale Heart…but I’m sure you can guess the effect on a highly suggestible seven-year-old with a flair for the dramatic) and spend weeks planning our costumes with us. I recall her sewing like a fiend with great accuracy and even greater glee to produce costumes that nobody else could match.
From lions and lynxes to Little Red Riding Hood to Ozma of Oz to an elaborate kachina for the medieval historian, Mom could do it all, and she did. She also delighted in the costume the alpaca rancher made for himself one year. He created a robot costume out of Baskin and Robbin ice cream tubs, cardboard boxes, toilet paper tubes, and a truly amazing amount of tin foil.
Then on The Great Night, my father would take me and my brothers out around the neighborhood, and then up to another neighborhood where some family friends lived. They didn’t have children of their own, so they sort of adopted us as a part of their family. They oohed and ahhed over our costumes, gave us more candy than could possibly be good for us, and let us play with their corgi half the night.
Then it was home again for the Great Candy Swap. The hardest part about that was the fact that we all hated most of the same candies. None of us liked marshmallows, or candy corn, or jujubes. All of us preferred dark chocolate over milk, even as small children. The medieval historian couldn’t stand licorice, but the alpaca rancher and I would fight to the death to get the black stuff, and neither of us cared for the red. I was the biggest fan of Pixie Stix, so I usually managed to get them from the other two…but nobody wanted the marshmallows and candy corn. We usually tried to palm it off on Mom, but she wasn’t a fan, either.
These days I don’t dress up for Halloween the way I used to. I sometimes come up with a costume on the fly. Mostly, though, I pass out candy to the kids who come to our door. I marvel over the costumes – especially the home made ones – and draw back in mock terror from the tiniest vampires and alien overlords. Our neighborhood is one of a dwindling number that still does get a lot of traffic from the trick or treaters, even though the local shopping center and the business district to store-to-store trick or treating as an alternative for panicked parents. I love to see kids in their finery. I love to see their faces as I drop tiny chocolate bars into their bags and pumpkin baskets.
And I never, ever pass out candy corn or marshmallow anything.