Wednesday, November 2, 2011


My grandmother and my daughter around 1996.
     This year, for Halloween, the kids danced between raindrops while they held on to their costumes, hats, masks and goody bags. It was another windy Halloween in Florida. As far back as I can remember, Halloween was always windy and spooky.

     When I was a child, we usually put together our own costumes out of our parents castaways and added a couple of store-bought touches like vampire teeth, a scary mask or a tiara. We’d knock politely on a door and yell "trick or treat" as loudly as we could. The resident who was forced to answer lucky enough to be answering the door would lean out with a big bowl of candy. Oohing and aahing over the costumes, they’d drop candy in our bags. We’d yell our thanks and run to the next house.

     The year I was seven, my mother was pregnant with my brother who was born on November 3. She’d answer the door and the little eyes of the trick-or-treaters would grow huge at her gigantic belly. My brother always did know how to steal the show.

     When I moved to St. Louis with my ex-husband and our son, I found out that different areas of the country do things slightly differently for Halloween.

     Our first Halloween in the mid-west, we dressed up my son as Batman, and took him trick-or-treating with his young cousins. I learned that in St. Louis, when you knock on a door, you have to have a riddle ready. The riddle is asked, an answer attempted, and THEN the candy is dropped in your treat bag.

     At the first door the kids approached, the unsuspecting homeowner opened the door, and our young son marched right in the house. He marched down the hall and disappeared. All of us stood there with mouths gaping watching him go. Then we started calling him, but apparently whatever he found in the room at the end of the hall was much more interesting than we were at the moment. Finally, our niece was invited in to collect him and found him sitting next to the man of the house watching a football game.

     After I moved back to Florida, I used to take my two around a nearby neighborhood–one with a large number of homes and kids running all over the place, hysterical on candy highs from smuggled sweets crammed in their mouths between houses. As crazy as it got, even when we could no longer feel our feet, it was still fun.

     When my kids were still little enough to enjoy going trick-or-treating with Mom, we’d always end up at my grandmother and aunt’s house. By then, the children were exhausted, make-up was slipping off faces and costumes were askew, but my grandmother and aunt always made a fuss. My kids were always proud that they had "scared" or impressed their relatives with their costumes.

     My grandmother and aunt have been gone several years now and my children are now adults. Funny. I used to think it would be the big things I’d miss when my two little ones were grown. I never thought it could be the mad scramble for the right costume, the numb feet, the arguments over candy, or the laughing at the can of Coca-cola someone gave out as a treat one year.

     I have to admit I missed it all when I sat quietly reading a book alone on Halloween as I waited for one more little trick-or-treater to find their way to my door.

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