Whatever happened to Halloween?
Why did have to become so complicated? Yes, I’m waxing sentimental again about how a perfectly good, scary holiday has been almost totally warped out of recognition. So either sit back and let me whine and moan or click off to some You Tube video with hamsters dancing.
Ah, Halloween in the good old days! Pillowcases filled with candy my parents always had to eat a lot of, telling me they were testing it, of course! Followed by the Halloween trading session to rid yourself of the lame toothbrush someone always gave and gain more peanut butter cups. The sweat covered princess and Frankenstein costumes with the plastic masks designed to block out almost all vision, but we wore them and raced about in the dark for hours.
And then of course, there was always that one house. The one that all my friends and I were sure was just not right. It was large and set back from the road. We would tell each other all the strange stories we knew about it in hushed whispers at the edge of the yard. “She never comes out! My Mom says someone died in there! See, that’s her cat on the porch, the black one! My older brother told me you can hear screams coming from the basement at night!” This was followed by the debate of whether or not we would approach and who was elected to ring the bell. But we would get that resolved fairly quickly and with our hearts in our throats we would step up onto the porch and ring the bell. Slowly the door would open and she would appear, older and more bent over than anyone we had ever seen. Her twisted hands would reach in the bowl to give us one Tootsie roll each. It was sad candy, not the fun, excessive sweets our squeaky, clean middle class upbringing had gotten used to. Yet even in our disappointment we would say thank you before we ran off across her yard to talk about how spooky she was.
The pumpkins on the porches as we ran home all looked the same. No one had yet gotten into pumpkin carving art. They all glowed at us with triangle eyes and jagged teeth.
“Wait up! Wait up!” We would call out to each other as we ticked off the houses we hadn’t yet gone to.
Halloween was easy. Easy and just the right size.
It was one night when we knew that every behind every bush something hidden watched us and everything that flew over our heads was dark creature just waiting to whisk us away.
It was a night that allowed us to be brave and adventurous and imaginative. To run and explore in the deep, shadowy darkness which was so often kept separate from us.
But I’m not giving up on it. I am so glad that it continues every year, albeit in a different form.
One day I may end up being the bent, old woman in the creepy house. But if I do and if you come calling on Halloween night….you’ll get more than one Tootsie roll! I promise!