Halloween Redux

October 31, 2012 | Posted in Childhood, Family, Holidays, humor, Parenting, Writing | By

Gypsy-Costume-1970s

Halloween nowadays…Uh oh. I just said “nowadays.” Damn kids. Get off my lawn! Turn that music down! Sit up straight! Okay… I think it’s out of my system now.

Anyways, Halloween nowadays is fun, sure, but it’s nothing like when we were young. Halloween during the 1970′s was a whole other ballgame. Today parents and children work in tandem to think up creative costumes and often spend hours at department stores and fabric shops to ensure successful costumes.

We also make sure our kids eat a balanced meal, rich in protein and complex carbohydrates with the perfect ratio of vitamins and minerals before trick-or-treating so that any sugar consumption after dinner is absorbed and metabolized less harmfully.

Trick-or-treaters use flashlights and reflective arm bands and are accompanied door-to-door by watchful parents in large groups. Merriment is structured and there are always “pleases” and “thank-yous” even from the most frightful witch or goblin (wearing a latex-free masks with safety breathing holes, of course.)

Candy is checked, and re-checked. And checked again. Do we know where it came from? Is it fresh? Is it more than 36% sugar and food colouring? Can it be frozen for the doling out of joy in thimblefuls through the winter?

BRUSH YOUR TEETH. And use the fluoride-free cavity protection rinse the dentist recommended!

Pumpkins lining tidy pathways of tidy two-storey subdivision homes are well-lit and rival museum works of art. They are not jack-o-lanterns; they are “Post-Modern Gourd Carvings.” They are beautiful and fragile and no one touch it.

This is in stark opposition to Halloween of my youth (and yours too, dear reader, if you are between 25-100.)  Our parents often scrambled a costume at 4pm on Halloween evening, using couch cushions and old curtains. Mom’s red lipstick and some clip on earrings transformed 6-year-olds into “pregnant housewife circa 1974″ in the time it took to mix another Tom Collins.

Kids had little to no say in what costume they would wear. If it was bought, it was bought on sale by your mother when she was at the grocery store, thrown into a cart with Cheeez-Whiz and Wagon Wheels. More likely  it was made, and no matter what, you smiled for the damn picture.

Pumpkins came in three standard carving patterns: scary face, funny face, or uncarved. They were lit by stub wax candles, lit ourselves with wooden matches or a leaky Zippo.

Dinner was unnecessary – you’d be eating all night anyway, so why waste money on a formal supper when the bank wants 18.5% for the damn mortgage and the union might strike?

Let me fill my pocket flask and we’ll go, fathers said. They stood in groups, sipping and chatting at the bottoms of driveways while we ran – ran - no pleases, no thank-you, Yes, Mrs. Patterson, I will tell my mother you like my costume.

We ran and we screamed and we laughed and we showed no awareness of orderly merriment.

Then we were home and tired, make-up washed from our face.

Smelling of Noxema and Pond’s Cold Cream,  our scrubbed faces shone as we sorted and traded and sorted and traded again.

We ate ourselves just this side of sick. We hadn’t had dinner, you know.

It was Halloween.

It was Halloween.

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