Halloween is always a fun time of the year in my family; more so when the kids were young and we lived in a neighborhood where we knew most of the families. It’s different now for me as I live in an area where kids don’t go trick or treating, and I have no young ones in my family close by.
Still, I enjoy the spirit of Halloween and enjoy all the memes and cartoons that circulate on the Internet, as well as those friends send me via e-mail. Not meaning to insult my Wiccan friends, but this meme made me chuckle.
Now I want to share an excerpt from my humorous memoir titled A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck. The book is all about the fun and foibles of raising kids that I wrote about in a weekly humor column for a Dallas suburban newspaper. I was known as the Erma Bombeck of Plano.
Halloween is not like it used to be. With concerns over Politically Correct costumes, candy that has been tampered with, and “who is that stranger driving slowly down the street”, Halloween has lost some of the charm of my childhood. But it is still an event of magic and excitement and an opportunity for pure unadulterated fun.
It is also one of the times I miss my kids the most.
We always took the holiday very seriously when the kids were young, spending weeks on costume preparations and decorating. “Carving The Pumpkin” was a family affair that took an entire evening and even dinner was suspended for preparations for Trick or Treating.
The year the twins were two, we thought it would be the perfect time for them to be totally swept up in the Halloween experience. The older kids were even willing to pare back their expectations of the most awesome costume so we could concentrate on the twins. We could all share vicariously in their excitement when we took to the streets.
Paul, being a generally easy-going kid, allowed us to dress him up in the cat costume that had originally been made for Anjanette ten years prior. Since it was yellow, he didn’t seem to care that it had belonged to a girl first. He even sat quietly while we painted whiskers on his cheeks.
Danielle, however, had a hard time getting into the swing of things. She didn’t want to put on her clown costume and balked at my attempts to put make-up on her face. She didn’t want to go Trick or Treating and she didn’t want to carry that brown paper bag. But after I forced her into the costume, smeared her face, and shoved her out the door with her bag she finally resigned herself to the indignity of it all.
After about a half- hour, Danielle had a complete change of heart. This was pretty cool, going up to a house and having someone toss a candy bar into her bag. And she didn’t have to do anything except say “thank you.”
Another hour later, Paul’s energy level was so low it dragged on the sidewalk along with the tail from his costume. Since both kids had bags that weighed more than they did, I thought it was the perfect time to go home. The older kids agreed; they were eager to go off with their friends. Paul agreed because he agreed to most anything those days. The only dissenter was Danielle. How could she pass up this mother-lode of candy?
I finally got her home, after enduring stares from neighbors whose expressions asked what terrible thing was I doing to this poor hapless child, who was screaming louder than the ghost sound effects on the corner.
After a bath and a solemn ritual of exacting promises from the other kids that they wouldn’t touch her bag of candy, Danielle was in bed. I collapsed on the couch for a five-minute break before tackling the clean-up in the bathroom.
Then I heard the soft shuffle of footsteps coming down the hall. I opened my eyes to see Danielle with an eager smile. “Can we do this again tomorrow?
What I wouldn’t give to hear her say that again this year.
What special memories do you have of Halloween past? Please share in the comments. And if you’ll be out and about with youngsters this evening, be safe and have a good time.