Monday, October 15, 2012
Shades of Fall - Trick or Treats - UPDATE - Found the Cat Costume Photo!
My earliest memory of it was early grade school and that Cat outfit mom bought. She was recently out of the hospital following cancer surgery and didn't have a lot of energy to sew one (she made most of my clothes with her little Singer machine), so she splurged on a store bought costume. I still have a photo of me in it, the black pants and top with a big glittery cat on the front, my cheeks flushed with the cold, one front tooth missing and a smile that said "Look at all the candy Mom!" As we got older, she encouraged us to make our own costumes, to spark our creativity (note to self - wearing Superman Cape does not enable user to fly).
As an adult, I do the same, though it's a rare party I'll go to, preferring a home cooked meal with the company of just one or two people, or even myself, to a crowd. But sometimes I will venture out if the people are those I really enjoy spending time with, showing up with a smile and something hot from the oven to add to the table.
We showed up and the guests, most of them as well, in the medical field said - "What ARE you two?"
Upper and Lower GI !
As adults we can still laugh, even if it's sometimes just at ourselves.
Childhood Halloween traditions never varied. There was always Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin to watch. For dinner we'd have hot dogs with sides of orange jello and some carrot sticks and a glass of milk. Then we'd suit up as quickly as firemen, eager to be out the door, out into the night where the cool Fall breeze shivered and stirred the grass where the leaves had long since fallen.
I paired off with a brother who was older. We were limited to where we could go but we had pillow cases that would hold a LOT of goodies.
There would be an occasional homemade caramel apple, popcorn ball or other such treat from a couple of older ladies up the street, but they put little commercial address labels on the wrapped treat with a note so our mom's knew immediately who sent it and that it would be good to eat. But the occasional popcorn ball aside, what we were after was the commercial loot. Hershey's and Tootsie Rolls, Fruit Stripe gum, Sugar Daddies, Smartees, Milk Duds (still a favorite), Crows, Skybar, Nestle Crunch, Dots, Pixy Sticks, Big Hunk, Boston Baked Beans (those were given away, I still don't like them), Gobstoppers, SweetTarts (more, please), Charms, those little candy necklaces, Necco wafers, Slo Pokes, Jolly Ranchers, Chic-o-Sticks, Bazooka gum.
The only thing Mom wouldn't let us keep was the Sugar Daddies. For some reason she thought those would just ruin our teeth and would hide them away with a plan for them to be rationed out one by one over time. Usually however, after a month, she'd forget about them. We'd run stealthy espionage missions into the kitchen until we found her hiding spot and would capture them and hide them in our secret fort to ruin our teeth at our own darn pace.
But the trick or treating wasn't just about the candy. It was being out, imaginations running free, flashlights shining into a future as exciting as we could imagine.
One year I was a ghost, that year a lot of kids were ghosts, the lumber mill having laid off a bunch of men, and money for costumes sorely lacking. An old sheet, a couple of holes cut for eyes and you were a ghost.
To each porch that had a light on we'd go, candy bag in hand. Trick or Treat, though with my front tooth missing, more like Twik or Tweat. Still that missing tooth got me extra candy (oh aren't you cute).
One house, always anticipated, had its owner dress like a witch, press on warts and all, and she'd have a steaming cauldron of dry ice and spooky music playing. That was the best part of that whole street. We'd approach the door, it would open with a haunting creak, the interior of the room blooming with light, a flutter of slender muscles in our arms as we held out our bags, trying to show we weren't really scared. That's just some kids Mom. . right? She really doesn't turn into a witch every Halloween? Then she would laugh, more of a honeyed laugh than a cackle, blue eyes, sparkling, holding us silent with her lifted hand from which would pour down sweet goodness, not toads or bats or other scary things.
We then trudged on home, tired, happy, stuffing what candy we could get in around our masks as we waited to cross each street, looking left and right as we'd been taught, crossing with someone who had at least one flashlight. We were of a generation that for the most part obeyed our parents rules, for with disobedience came punishment. None of this "throw a temper tantrum in the store, I'll just BUY you that toy to get you to shut up". We were of the "spare the rod, spoil the child generation" and my backside met Mr. Ruler more than once. Making promises of punishment that never happens does not work. Doesn't work with rogue countries, doesn't work with children.
We'd gather our loot on the floor, our Mom going through it to check for unwrapped Candy or a homemade treat that didn't have a little address label on it, to show which lady up the block made it. There was no cautions about eating too much, or sugar and cavities, for just this moment in time, we were kids, just being kids, there in that sweetness of memory that remains with us always.
Posted by Brigid at 4:00 PM