Sunday, October 11, 2009

Halloween is near...BOO!

I will be the first to admit it. I LOVE old movies. By far some of my favorite movies are in the "horror" genre, things involving Vincent Price, Alfred Hitchcock, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, and Boris Karloff to name a few of the "big names" back in the day. With Halloween only weeks away, I've had the opportunity to see a lot of old horror flicks on television and I'm LOVING it! It's bringing back memories of staying up late on weekends as a kid to watch a sometimes campy, sometimes creepy horror flick, often with a TV Horror Host who'd break things up by telling a tidbit about something behind the scenes of the movie or interjecting some humor.

I'm also getting nostalgic thinking about my childhood Halloween experiences, such as trying to navigate beneath a sheet with holes cut out for eyes (yes, I did the old school ghost costume), or sweltering beneath the uncomfortable plastic mask and plastic costume my Mom got at the store after much pleading and whining on my part. Many of my years of trick-or-treating was done with my big sister and my nephew (there's a big age gap - I was an aunt at age 3). I vividly remember Mom dressing up like a scarecrow one year, simply by wearing a flannel shirt under her overalls and tucking some straw into the cuffs at her wrists and ankles and painting her face a bit. Generally my parents didn't have a lot of money to throw away on a poorly made costume I'd only wear once, so I was encouraged to be creative and resourceful. At the time I'm sure I thought they were big ole meanies for not letting me wear the same sorts of store-bought costumes my friends got to wear. In hindsight, however, I'm really grateful.

I also remember that these were the years when people handed out apples and homemade goodies, and nobody thought anything was sinister about it. Popcorn balls sticky with molasses done up in plastic wrap, or sugar cookies with M&Ms pressed into them, or caramel apples made near enough to trick-or-treat time that they'd still be warm...that's not something my children have ever experienced. The candy was in a league all it's own. Red Hots, Bottlecaps, Sixlets, candy cigarettes, wax "Coke" bottles with sugary sweet liquid inside, Charleston Chew, sheets of candy buttons, square Chunky bars, Dubble Bubble gum, Fruit Stripe gum, Fun Dip Lik-M-Aid, Milk Duds, Sugar Daddies, Oh Henry! candy bars, Pop Rocks, Razzles, Smarties, Wax Lips (weird, but totally chew-worthy), and the list goes on. There was no reason to take away our goodies and look at each individual piece back then, because there was no media hype about razors or needles hidden in the treats. Kids simply got home, dumped their pillowcases (a plastic bag? Ppppfffttt!), sorted the candy out in some way or another. My system was simple: I had the chocolate pile, the not-chocolate pile, and the eww that's gross and I'm not gonna eat it pile. I had to trick-or-treat by car, since I lived out on a farm, and I used to get jealous as I would watch television shows of television kids going out their television house and walking around their television blocks without even seeing a car.

I remember Halloween parties, hayrides, bobbing for apples. I remember one of my neighbors (I think it was Jennifer, but it might have been Ginger) having a "ghost" hung up on their front porch for days prior to Halloween. Then, on the night of Halloween, the hanging ghost was replaced by a human under a sheet - one who proceeded to give me a big hug and nearly scare the life out of me! And I loved it.

I wonder, looking at my kids, what they'll remember about Halloween. My daughter's too old to trick-or-treat anymore at age 15. My son will have turned 10 just a few days before Halloween this year, so his time to stop begging for candy door-to-door is drawing near. Will they remember particular costumes? The way it is so cold here by Halloween that they often wind up having to cover their outfit with a coat? Will they remember how their candy lasts for months because we stash it and hand them a couple of pieces a day rather than let them gorge themselves into a sugar coma? I hope they remember good things, fun things, cherished things.

Mainly, fall seems to remind me that time is passing quickly. It reminds me to slow down, examine the colors of the leaves, to snuggle up with my kids and a warm drink (if they'll let me). The air gets crisp and cool and fresher somehow. Back home, this was my favorite time of year. I spent many autumn days laying on the cool grass of our front yard, making out shapes in the clouds, watching the leaves fall, taking deep breaths to fill my lungs with air so crisp and fresh I could taste it. I'd walk down to the bridge and watch the sun slowly sink on the horizon as it reflected off the babbling water of the creek.

I love the fall. I love Halloween. And for now, in this moment, I'm just feeling blessed to have had the life I've had so far.

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