I just heard on the morning news that the term “Halloween” may be offensive to some people. What people? I thought to myself. Well, evidently (and to no one’s surprise), there are many people who don’t care for Halloween (well, fine–no one likes everything), who think that Halloween is evil (that’s still up for debate), or who are just generally offended by the term itself (again–ok, fine).
Well, here’s the thing–how exactly do we know which people are offended by Halloween? Or Christmas? Or birthdays? Or the state bird? Or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?? Hey, it’s not like people are wearing badges that read “I am offended by (check all that apply).” How the heck are we supposed to know?
So, that said, let’s go back to today, which is HALLOWEEN. There–I said it, and I don’t feel one bit guilty about it.
Last night the Crankee Yankee (my husband) and I put out candy for the trick-or-treaters for the first time since we’ve lived here. In our town, the kids go from door to door on October 30 between 4:00pm and 7:00pm. While our much more creative neighbors decorated their homes in fantastic and fabulous fashion, from inflatable Frankensteins and witches to ghosts hanging spookily from every tree, monstrous spider webs on the eaves and carved pumpkins flickering the dark–we just filled a wagon with leaves, a pumpkin and an orange bowl of candy.
But we had fun and got to know more of our neighbors, especially the kids. We were visited by Iron Man, Spiderman, princesses, witches, ghouls, zombies, Freddy Kruger, butterflies, aliens, and one walking toilet. (Yes, really. The kid made it himself, and, since both arms were contained in the costume, his partner (a slice of pizza) obligingly tossed the candy into his bowl after he lifted his lid. He gets my award of best costume this year.)
While our usually quiet neighborhood was overrun with candy-seeking scary folk, the Crankee Yankee and I talked about our Halloweens of long ago. Back then, you could go out in the actual spooky dark with your friends, going door to door (only neighbors you knew, of course) hollering “Trick or treat!” Just being out there in the dark was so much fun, made more so by the fact that you had on a costume and you got candy. Also during those more innocent times, people often made homemade treats like candy apples, popcorn balls, cookies, brownies, fudge and taffy. No one ever thought of anything sinister about this; it’s just what people did back then.
As for tricks, the worst thing we ever did was soap an occasional window, or toss an egg on the sidewalk. Our parents made sure that we understood that egging peoples’ houses or vehicles were strictly off the table. The punishment for doing so was just not worth it; we would have to show up the next day to clean up, and face the neighbor in question to apologize. Even so, you’d hear about your crime well into adulthood. Years later, you’d be back in your home town with your own children, and go visit your old neighbor who was by that time in a nursing home. As you made your hellos and introduced your children, the old man or woman would glare up at you from their wheelchair, pointing a bony finger at you, croaking, “It’s YOU! You’re the little brat who egged my door on Halloween!”
Most of our costumes were homemade back then. I remember only a tiny percentage of kids who had “store-bought” costumes. We went out as ghosts (old white sheet with eyeholes), hobos (old clothes and shoe polish beards), fortune tellers (one of Mom’s old dresses and lots of clinking costume jewelry and makeup), and so on. If Halloween fell on a school day, we got to change into our costumes after lunch and be part of a big parade downtown. It must have been a massive operation for the teachers, but for us kids, it was Halloween heaven.
So, that was then, and this is now. To all those out there who are offended by Halloween–I’m sorry I mentioned “Halloween” so many times in this post. To those of us who still love Halloween, both for what it was and what it is; a happy Halloween to you all!
(….are there anymore KitKats left?)