Originally published in the Miami News -Record on October 25, 2015
I passed my love of Halloween on to my daughters. Kady has spent weeks decorating our house and we spent several evenings at Abby’s making her house extra creepy. From the bones in our fire pit to the skeleton sitting nonchalantly on Ab’s porch swing, we have represented the skeletal population well. There’s a 5x8 foot spider web in Abby’s yard which I’m sure the mail carriers will be glad to see come down since they have to walk all the way around it to deliver her mail. Our dining room table is host to a skull, a few “potions”, and some ghosts. Last weekend at Sunday dinner the skull was a nice addition to the bowl of hot rolls.
As a kid, we couldn’t wait to buy the quintessential garb that every other elementary school kid had: the plastic smock/coverall that went over your clothes and the plastic mask with eye holes that were never quite right. By wearing them, you automatically assumed risk of corneal abrasion. Whether you were the Lone Ranger, Red Riding Hood, or Casper the Friendly Ghost, you staggered around not seeing (or breathing) well while you paced single file around the Old Gym to show off your costume. There was a boy and girl winner in each grade and if you didn’t win, you were okay with that because: CANDY. And popcorn balls. And Kool-ade. And those rock hard sugar cookies in the shape of a Jack O’Lantern and covered with ¼” of orange-tinted sugar crystals. Oh my stars, I loved the Halloween parties in grade school. As we got older, the costumes got more creative. Lumberjacks were born when a longsuffering mom would slather a prepubescent face in Vaseline and then toss coffee grounds at the well-jellied mug of her offspring. Mummies came to life when moms sacrificed white bed sheets and wrapped her little darling head to toe. And if you had a mom like mine, she would almost always pull an all-nighter sewing a pilgrim apron and bonnet or maybe a witch’s dress.
I know we live in a different day and age now, but I miss the Halloweens of the 80’s. Back then, no one had ever heard of such a thing as a Trunk or Treat or a Fall Festival. We just trick-or-treated and enjoyed the heck out of the school party that felt like it lasted eight hours – and it kind of did since we all wore our costumes to school and spent the whole day as our favorite cartoon characters, heroes, and creatures then topped it all off with forty-leven pounds of sugar apiece. (Now that I think about it, I’m sure our teachers drank a lot after school on party day. Or at least wanted to.)
Being country kids, we didn’t trick-or-treat in town, but spent the time between school and bedtime burning up a tank of gas going all over Ottawa County to relatives’ houses. First stop was Papa’s farm where we’d catch him before the evening milking. Then it was off to Nana’s house in Picher where there was a brown paper sack for each grandkid waiting on her kitchen table holding enough candy to make a dentist cry. Then on to Aunt Edie’s and Granny Glenn’s, a few of Mom’s elderly friends, and Mrs. Demo at Nine Tribes Tower where we always got her amazing chocolate chip cookies. We’d finish the night at Uncle Tom and Aunt Shirlye’s and by then we were usually fighting sleep because our sugar high had worn off and Mom had snatched up all the candy when we wouldn’t stop fighting.
The kids plan to hand out candy at Abby’s house this year, although I fear most kids will be getting their candy out of random trunks around town. Oh darn. I guess I’ll take the leftover Reese’s Fast Breaks off her hands and dispose of any Fun Size Snickers as well. You know how we moms sacrifice for our kids.