I’ll admit it. Halloween is not my favourite holiday. I’m not a fan of the grotesque, zombies or even clowns. I’ve been afraid of clowns long before it was a “thing”.
When I was growing up in the 70’s and 80’s we all wore home made costumes – not made using a pattern either. We took old items and fashioned them into pretty generalized versions of things – a hobo, a witch, a pirate or a rock star. I distinctly remember it being a real challenge to come up with a costume idea that utilized things you could easily find around the house.
More than one year I remember my mom telling me that if all else failed I could always cut a hole in a sheet and go as a ghost. I always thought that was an odd suggestion considering we didn’t own white sheets. There’s nothing cooler than a flowery ghost. *eye roll*
When store-bought costumes finally came on the scene they were little more than appropriately coloured garbage bags with accompanying masks. The masks had an elastic band that usually broke and had to be re-stapled on and the masks themselves acted like a sauna for your face.
Sweat, sweat and more sweat running into your eyes as you tried to peer out through the tiny slits in the masks where your eyes were supposed to go – but rarely did your eyes and the holes line up. There are now entire pop-up stores dedicated solely to Halloween decorations and costumes.
Growing up we also didn’t have stencils for carving our jack-o-lanterns. They always had a toothy grin and more often than not, triangle-shaped eyes. We’d dig all of the guts out of the pumpkin and then roast the seeds or save a few for planting in next year’s garden.
School Halloween parties were always so much fun as well. We’d take our costumes to school and dress up in the afternoon then share the baked good our parents sent in for our party. Our teacher would play spooky music and we’d play games and get wound up on sugar before the trick or treating even began.
The treats were different then too. The mini bars included Crispy Crunch, Three Musketeers, O Henry and the older varieties and the chips were either plain or if you were really unlucky salt and vinegar flavour. Candies were mostly penny candies and peanut kisses and the rolls of sweet tarts. Now there are so many varieties of treats I don’t even recognize half of their names.
We also didn’t have fancy Halloween bags or buckets – we used a pillowcase to collect our treats. Slung over our shoulders like an autumnal Santa we’d go from house to house lugging all the treats from previous houses while the Unicef boxes around our necks rattled with small change.
There was always one house that you had on your list of “must visit” houses and it held a prized treat. For us it was the last house on the street. You see, we lived at the top of a very long hill and so trick or treating for us meant going all the way down hill and our reward was that last house. The coveted treat? A can of pop. The man who lived there worked at the local Pepsi bottling plant and he always had the fun flavours like grape or cream soda. Thankfully our mom or dad would rescue us and drive us back up the hill at the end.
I’m still not a fan of the holiday. In fact, I refuse to answer the door on Halloween night. That’s not to say I don’t hand out treats – I do. I just prefer to wait on the doorstep for the little ghouls and goblins to walk up our driveway so I can see them as they approach. There’s something about opening a door to a masked person that gives me shivers down my spine.
This evening my boys will be dressing up as a ninja and a Power Ranger and their dad will take them up and back our cul-de-sac.
I’ll be waiting for them on the front step when they return with bags filled and smiling faces as they excitedly tell me about their adventure.
I’m just hoping I don’t see too many clowns.