Another Halloween has flown past us. Another annual evening of ghouls and goblins, princesses, superheroes, gypsies, pirates, and assorted oddities is over. I shall miss it. I love this one night a year of fantasy where everyone can be who and what they dream of.
I didn’t dress up this year. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Right now I happen to be living a lot of my dreams, so perhaps I don’t feel quite the same need to play dress-up with them. Then again, I did misplace my sparkly purple devil horns. If I’d had them right to hand, I probably would have put them on before handing out the candy.
My town is a strange little place that time seems to have forgotten nestled right in the heart of the San Francisco Bay area. We have tree-lined streets and Victorian houses and a couple mom and pop grocery stores. Kids still ride their bikes to school here. And we do Halloween well. In fact, people often bring their kids from other, higher crime cities in the area just to take them trick or treating. Many of them wind up on my front porch where I can ooh and aah over their costumes.
It was quiet this year. I have a lot of left over peanut butter cups and Snickers bars, which I shall have to selflessly consume myself. Shuckydarns! Still, the reason traffic was down wasn’t fear but simply the fact that it rained and a lot of parents either kept their kids in or did short turns in their own neighborhoods. If it hadn’t rained, I most likely would have handed out all six large bags of candy we had on hand for the purpose. There have been years when I’ve had that much candy and still put the porch light out before seven-thirty because I’m down to two candy bars and the kids around here come in packs.
Even with the small turnout, there were a couple highlights. I was particularly amused by the teeny-tiny, barely walking Yoda who gravely offered me a Crunch Bar in return for his Tootsie Roll. There was the little girl who beamed with the wattage of an entire row of spotlights when I recognized that she was supposed to be Princess Leia and hoped The Force would be with her. There was the young father whose toddler had refused at the last minute to wear his Elmo costume…so dad put it on his own head.
My particular favorite, though, had to be the girl who had clearly created her own fish tank costume. She’d taken a large, white cardboard box and cut openings in all the sides. the openings were then draped with green plastic wrap (the sides had slits for her arms to go through). She then wore a simple, all black outfit underneath with plastic fish and felt seaweed hung on strings.
That costume showed such imagination, so much consideration and effort, even a goodly splash of panache, that it warmed my heart. In among all the pre-fab Minnie Mouses and store-bought Spidermen, it almost made me cheer. It’s not even that I mind the fact that people buy costumes. Dreams are dreams, whether you dress them in something you bought or something you made. What really did it was the fact that this one kid thought so far outside the box, even as she used a box to make her costume.
The true spirit of Halloween is alive and well. I snuck an extra piece of candy into her bag.
Maybe next year I’ll dress up, too.