Halloween. For some it brings back memories of trick-or-treating, churchy Fall Festivals, homemade costumes...and for some it's about the fear factor, blood and guts, horror, being scared out of their wits, ghost stories, murder mysteries...you get the picture. As a little girl, I remember being a black cat for approximately nine years in a row: black tights and leotard, a homemade safety pin attached tail, triangular felt ears hot-glued to a headband, my black patent leather church shoes and a few whiskers drawn on my freckly cheeks with Mama's eyeliner. Jessica, Noah and I, along with the rest of our neighborhood crew would set out down our street, stopping at each house to run up the driveway, and press the doorbell fifty times and yell trick-or-treat as soon as the door was cracked. We knew which houses gave out lame-o candy like tootsie rolls or dum dums. And we knew which ones were the jackpot houses, like the "glass house" at the end of the street, (always our last stop). They gave out ice cold Cokes and king sized Snickers bars. I know. I'm sure our parents were pleased as punch when we returned home with caffeine and sugar saturated half consumed Cokes in our grubby little hands.
Part of me wishes we could have the trick-or-treating and the fun costumes without the plastic tomb stone riddled yards, or the creepy skeletons on the porch. I remember one year we stopped at this house with a coffin on the front porch and as soon as you got up to the sidewalk, it would open and a guy with a BULLET HOLE in his forehead would sit up and scare the pants off of you. It was TERRIFYING. As we walked, (well, I ran), away I lost my shiny black shoe in the pixie grass on the edge of the yard and, as Noah had the flashlight, I was left rummaging around in the dark by myself with my heart in my eight year old throat, scared that the very fires of hell were licking at my heels because of the "dead guy" on the porch. I may have cried. I don't remember. I probably blocked that part out. When I found my shoe, I ran so fast I felt like Michael Johnson in the 1996 Summer Olympics, Izzy and all. I just leaned back and bolted. I probably screamed the quintessential, "wait for meeeee!!" a few times, too.
Anyhow, this blog is proof that I made it home, mostly unscathed, to dump my candy out on the kitchen table or the living room floor for my parents to inspect. We would sort through the "good" and "bad" candy and the rejects would be put in a big bag to be taken to the prisoners at the local jail where my Dad and some of his buddies had a prison ministry. I know. Unwanted candy taken to the prison? I don't even know what to say. We would share some candy with my parents, trade amongst ourselves, (although I'm pretty sure I got duped into giving away the good stuff because Noah and Jessica were pretty good negotiators back then), and then put away our candy for the days to come. My candy would usually be gone in about two weeks. Noah's would last until Easter. I'm not sure if he had ten times as much as I did or if he was just very disciplined as a ten year old. Either way, I marveled at his endless supply of Skittles, M&Ms, and Milky Ways.
As an adult, I love to think back on the excitement of thinking up a costume and the anticipation of trick-or-treating. But I also worry a teeny bit about those kids that dress up as Zombie Bride, a Dead Surgeon, or George Bush. What lessons or values are they learning through this American tradition?? I guess it's up to the parents, but still. If I was scared of the neighbor's 18 year old son with a stick-on bullet on his forehead, I'm not sure a ten year old dressed as Freddy Krueger is such a fantastic idea.
To each his own, I guess. But I still shiver when I'm walking the neighborhood and I see a tricked out house just waiting for a few little kids to venture up the driveway. I, for one, will be staying on the street.