Halloween means everything to me.
Ghosts and pumpkins outshine candy canes and Christmas trees (or menorahs) by miles.
I remember the care my mother took with our costumes; always homemade and unique. My parents made made the whole month an event; reading Halloween books and making sure my sister and I watched all the age appropriate TV specials. We drove far away to get pieces for our costumes (they didn’t have those big warehouses on every corner) and went to Halloween carnivals, concerts and pumpkin patches.
Halloween was the changing of warm weather to chilled, the smell of hamburgers grilling at my school’s fair, it was the choice of dressing as anything I wanted, it was glazed donuts with orange and black sprinkles and homemade chocolate cupcakes with plastic spider rings. It was spooky stories – not scary… just Ichabod Crane creepy. It was the electric energy of all the children out on the street on Halloween night – it felt like team work – it felt like unity. It was begging my dad for one more block and then trying to get in as many houses as possible before the porch lights started clicking off. It was dumping out my pillowcase of loot at home, trading candy with my sister and feeling victorious as I counted the plentiful chocolate varieties (milky way’s, snicker’s, Hershey’s and extra gold stars for peanut butter cups) and the rest of the candy was filler – I’d eat it, but I wouldn’t love it like the chocolates. I’d ration that stash of candy for a month. I’d come home from school and stare into that bag and smell the sweet papery smell and just feel… I don’t know, happy. Content. Complete.
I don’t like horror and I don’t like being too scared, so as an adult, Halloween had it’s limitations. In college I went to Knott’s Scary Farm with a group of friends and was so petrified by the costume zombies jumping out at me that I kept my head buried in my boyfriend’s chest and screamed into his armpit non stop. Adult Halloween parties become about booze and horror films and all I really wanted to be doing was giving out candy at home with my family or walking up and down the enthusiastically decorated blocks of my childhood neighborhood, looking at all the excited kids. For many of my grown-up years Dan and I went to the famous West Hollywood parade to look at all the elaborate, risque costumes. The parade has now become gentrified and way too over crowded, but in it’s day, it was a great tradition. A few times I went out Trick or Treating with Godchildren – those were really good nights.
The last two Halloweens were wonderful and really fun but now, Spenser is older and it is a truly bewitching holiday again. I re live it’s glory days through my son who calls out from the back seat, “Oohhh! Halloween decorations!” And even though he’s only two and a half, he’s appreciating all my efforts – the pumpkin patches, the themed shows, the carnivals and tup shiny ghosts we stuck in the lawn. I’m beyond thrilled. I get to assemble a unique costume for my boy, I get to watch Curious George Halloween and other appropriate specials (my speed,) I get to go to my old Elementary School carnival and buy a homemade cupcake with a spider ring on it. I get to return to my childhood block and Trick or Treat with my sister, brother in law and Grandpa.
I look at Spenser in his costume saying “I so excited!” and I feel… I don’t know, happy. Content. Complete.