Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ghosts, Ghouls And Goblins: It's Halloween

Some of my nieces and nephews, making the rounds of their neighborhood when they were younger

As a small child I didn't stray far from our own home without an adult with me very often, so I anticipated the night of All Hallow's Eve almost as much as I did Christmas. The opportunity to run with my friends from door to door in the neighborhood and collect treats from people in houses nearby seemed almost surreal to this little piggy.

Although you could buy costumes in a few stores, many of the costumes we wore were of the home-made variety; ghosts and hobos were favored attire for many boys, since they didn't involve a lot of effort. Being a hobo meant borrowing some older clothes from an older male relative, rolling up the sleeves and pant legs and dirtying your face with ashes from the fireplace to give our peach fuzz faces the illusion of not having shaved for a week. 

Impersonating a ghost was as easy as taking an old sheet and cutting holes for eyes. Keeping those eye holes in place while you hurried about was another thing altogether, however.  Every so often you'd see some kid trip over their ghostly train and go ass over tea kettle, splaying themselves onto the sidewalk and spraying their "loot" out of the pillowcase often used as a treat bag onto the ground.  

My mother used to make her own treats to hand out: carmel-dipped apples, small bags of home made candied popcorn, cookies and the likes. With time (and repeated reports of razor blades in apples and other tampered-with treats) came the era of pre-packaged candy and things. It's sad to know there are more and more looneys out there with each passing year, but so it goes. Most kids (by my personal observations from the front porch) are now accompanied by at least one adult, tagging along to supervise and say such adult things as "did you say 'thank you?'" and "no running across the street... wait for us".

Today Halloween is Big Business, with stores chock-a-block full of aisles of pre-made costumes for at least a month in advance. Bags of candy to hand out to the kids who come to your door appear in grocery and warehouse stores, too, and I'm guessing that the makers of diabetic medications hold celebratory gatherings of their own around the same time.

I've given up on handing out candy to the little ones, but the front of the house still gets decorated and illuminated with colored lights. The past five or six years kids showing up at my door receive some small toy novelty instead of candy, and that's seemed to be fine with them.  

Glow in the dark items have been a hit, as have any other items that blink, flash or make some sort of noise.  More than a few times I've heard kids back out on the sidewalk on their way to the next house saying things like "this house is the BEST," and that makes it worth the extra expense for something other than candy.

I know a few of you reading this may have to resort to a web search to figure out what the holiday is all about, but most of you will understand. Either way... Happy Halloween!

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