So, the title for this post was originally going to be "The one in which I sound like a cranky old man bitching about how I used to walk to school, uphill, both ways, in three feet of snow and bare feet. And I LIKED it!"
But I thought that was too wordy.
When I was growing up, we were all about Halloween. No, we didn't trek to Target in August to start stocking up on candy (by the way, I'm on day 6 of my Target hiatus and I'm not even a little bit twitchy yet, so there), or set up animatronic witches in the yard that would cackle and drool blood anytime someone walked by. There were no dry-ice machines puffing pretend smoke at the doorway of our houses. We wore giant plastic masks and nylon-based costumes that burst into flames if we so much as looked at a jack o'lantern, transforming our costume from Howdy Dowdy to the less popular Self-Immolating Monk. We went up and down our streets knocking on our neighbors' doors, shouting "TRICK OR TREAT!!!" with such gusto, you'd think we were taking them by surprise at every ring of the doorbell. "Really? It's Halloween?! Thank goodness I have some candy just lying around for you! What are you? A Self-Immolating Monk? Very realistic!"
I recall one year trick or treating on crutches, I was so gung-ho for the experience. In 5th grade, I sprained my ankle a total of three times; probably because I never let it heal the first time or the the second time. It's the sort of thing where my left ankle now aches when it's going to rain. Yeah, I'm THAT old, folks. But I would not be deterred by the crutches, so I threw on a costume, swung myself down the street on my crutches and let me tell you, my basket was chock o'block full that year---sympathy candy. It's a good thing.
As an adult, after those awkward years of "I'm too old to trick or treat, but not old enough to use Halloween as an excuse to get stupid drunk with my friends," the holiday became a night of crazy costumes--I have been a back up dancer for Madonna, Molly Shannon's Mary Katherine Gallagher ("sometimes....when I get nervous....I stick my fingers under my arms and then I smell them....like thisssssssssss"), an old lady, a Goth, a Studio 54 partier. Nothing is more fun than planning the costume, finding all the pieces for the costume, dressing up in it and then watching the reaction of other people when they see you transformed.
So I have fond memories of Halloween. For the most part. And more than anything, I want Ethan to have fond memories of his Halloweens, too. So far he has been a peapod, a monkey and a bumble bee. This year he decided to be a fireman. He is at an age where he "gets" it. He started to demand trick or treating sometime around the 28th and I had to keep explaining to him that we couldn't simply walk up to peoples' houses whenever we felt like it and demand candy. Except for 2 hours on the 31st, that is considered really uncouth. Yeah, a 3.5 year old could give a rat's ass about couth--he wants candy.
Since Ethan was born, I've not considered dressing up myself. Too busy, too tired. Nothing to do and no place to go, really. A whole lot of effort for pretty much no pay off in comparison to years gone by. But this year I decided at the last minute that I HAD to dress up. Earlier in the month I'd purchased a witch hat from the $1 bin at Target, mainly to amuse Ethan during one of our marathon Target trips. But it was floating around in the dining room and I decided to be a witch. The day before Halloween, we ran around finding a long black wig, green face paint and green and black striped tights. My Sephora holiday catalogue arrived in the mail on Saturday and the cover model was all glittery and fake eyelash-y. My costume idea really materialized: GLAMOUR WITCH!!! Well, glamour-ish. There's only so much glamour you can pull off when your face is green.
I knew our neighborhood wouldn't be ripe for trick or treating--not enough kids and the few kids that are on the block are from families that don't really believe in observing Halloween. So, okay. I got dressed up, we got Ethan dressed up and threw him and his fire hat, fire extinguisher and bull-horn siren into his little red wagon and hauled him to the next neighborhood over. The neighborhood with the massive houses and the cul-du-sacs. Where the people with kids and loads of expendable cash live--they'd have some rocking trick or treating there!!!!
Except they didn't. Out of 20 houses, maybe 8 of them were open for business, in a trick or treating sense. When I was growing up, you gave out candy on October 31st. Period. No discussion. Every porch light was on, unless there was some sort of major family emergency, and even then, you found someone to do the candy passing. Fine, no one in my neighborhood had haunted houses or mock graveyards set up in the front yard or screaming skeletons hanging from trees, but they had their porch lights on and they oooh'd and ahhhh'd at every single child who presented themselves at their doors. Kids took ONE piece of candy, said "thank you" and showed off their candy to their parents waiting at the end of the walkway.
I know I'm paining a very Normal Rockwell picture of Halloween's past and perhaps they weren't as idyllic as I am recalling. But there is something seriously disheartening about watching your little fireman bound up to a door (with its front light on), knock as hard as his little fist can manage, ring the doorbell, and have no one come to the door to tell him that he looks like such a brave fireman and to give him some candy.
I don't think Ethan was too disappointed; those who did answer their doors were effusive in their appreciation for how stinking cute he was as a fireman and everyone gave him two pieces of candy. So he did all right in the loot department and all of that. Fair enough.
But I couldn't help but feel that Halloween was losing it's magic. Entire neighborhoods with front lights off, other neighborhoods with only a smattering of porch lights turned on. It made me sad, and Husband would probably say I pouted a little bit underneath all that green make up.
I love love love living in Northern California. But I know that the neighborhood we live in now will not be the one we stay in indefinitely. I want Ethan to grow up in a place where community is a priority. Not so that he gets a ton of candy when he trick or treats one night a year. But so that he knows that porch lights will always be on for him.
He wore the entire ensemble to dinner on Friday night-in case the sushi place suddenly bust into flame, he wanted to be prepared.
Sadly, anyone who was within 10 feet of me is probably still finding glitter on their person to this day. Looks like Ethan might have gotten some in his eye. I was very shiny.
My love affair with goofy tights was rekindled this Halloween. Green and black stripes? I'll be wearing you all winter long, baby!
For the record, I had a file-folder full of scanned pictures from Halloweens past that I really wanted to upload for this post, but Blogger.com is TRES MUY useless today, so I guess we're lucky I got any of them to load. Apparently all of my scanned pictures are "corrupt", which is blogger.com's way of saying, "We're sorry. We're TRES MUY useless today." Meh.