Oh, my! have I been reminiscing in my head. This weather. This season. This everything.
We had glorious weather for Halloween night this year. Dry and cold, but not too cold. The Trick-or-Treaters surely had a blast. I think back to when The Daughters were Littles and getting them ready to go out. Sometimes it was joyous and sometimes… not. Costumes were either embraced or rejected. We had to find neighborhoods that participated because our own “neighborhood” is impossibly rural. I wanted them to have the same experience of going door-to-door that I did. (None that “Trunk or Treat” mess. Bah!) A party to come back to was fun though. The kind where you grab some chili and cornbread after you rush back into the heat of the house. The coup de grâce, however, was when you spread your bounty across the floor to compare it with your siblings’ and friends'.
When my brothers and I went with our neighborhood friends we hit The Jackpot. Every damn year. The townhouses’ courtyards were so close together you would fill up your pillowcase within an hour. Rumor had it around town that other kids coveted our struggling neighborhood because it was less work and the families were generous. This wasn't the neighborhood that gave out full size candy bars; this was the neighborhood you could do "volume" in. Most of the time people ran out of candy before you were ready to quit, but many kids couldn’t give up that ghost and they kept going. Teenagers rang doorbells up until 10 pm and we'd throw forgotten couch pennies in their buckets because we had run out of candy, too.
When I was really young I remember us picking out cheap-o costumes from the local Kresge’s back when they sold them in boxes. Be Batman! A Bride! A Witch! Frankenstein! Inside was a flammable nylon gown of some sort that tied in the back like you were a hospital patient, along with a plastic mask complete with an elastic to hold it on your head. It made your face sweat from your breath if you ran too much, but it was especially problematic if you wore glasses and were severely nearsighted (Trust me on this one. They fit neither over nor under.) Some years there was the disappointment of a winter coat over your costume because it threatened to snow (The horror! No one can see what I am!). And some years… well, it was just like this year.
Cold, crisp, glorious. A glowing, pumpkin orange sunset. The smell of wood smoke from baby bonfires.
I remember being just frantic with the fear of missing out when darkness fell; kids started banging on our door and my dad wasn’t home from work yet. You have to wait, Mum said, Give them their candy. Oh. My. God. The anxiety. Everyone is out there already! All the good candy will be gone! We’ll get apples! Stale popcorn balls! And —*gasps, then whispers*—boxes of raisins. Good grief! When is he getting home from the Great American Insurance Company? My poor mother listened to us bellyache while trying to get real food in us before the impending sugar coma. And my poor dad, when he finally did walk through the back door, he barely had time to change out of his suit. What’s taking him so long???! Why can't he hurry? When we finally headed out the door I remember sucking in the cold air and sky rocketing off the cement porch. Where I was going I didn't need stairs.
But oh! the heady freedom of independent Trick-or-Treating once you got old enough and could leave your little brothers in the dust. My Bestie and I went as Laura and Mary Ingalls from The Little House on the Prairie that banner year. We rocked it in our prairie dresses and homemade bonnets.
And with this season upon us again, everything is swirling with fallen leaves and possibilities all while it is going into hibernation. It really is Samhain (“sow-win”). The ancient Celts had it right; it marks winter’s beginning and the beginning of a new year. Go ahead — try on a new persona. You can be anything you want, right? A bride! Frankenstein! The Bride of Frankenstein! You can even pick out the box it comes in.