If you’re of advanced years and you saw me in my Halloween costume a few evenings ago, then please accept my apologies. Dressing up as The Grim Reaper – complete with scythe – is not something I do on 364 evenings of the year, so if you did spy me and thought I’d come to cart you off to the other side of the astral plane, then I’m sorry.
Halloween is not only a brilliant excuse for adults to dress up, but is also the best time of the year for kids to dress up too!
No one knows where ‘trick-or-treating’ really originated, but when you’re nine years old and you come home laden with enough candy to keep you in tooth decay for an entire year (but that you’re going to eat in two hours flat) then who cares? It seems likely, however, that the idea of dressing up for Halloween originated in Britain, then came to the US in the 1920s. We Americans then gave Halloween a good old polish and gave it back to the rest of the world.
Everyone knows the rules – a knock on the door on the evening of October 31st means you’re about to be candy-mugged by skeletons, pirates, zombies, vampires and mummies – all about four feet tall. You could shut the door on them of course, but that risks their mischievous wrath. Even worse, their parents might write that you’re a miserable old ‘so-and-so’ on Facebook.
My local community still embraces Halloween, and has done so for as long as I have lived here. But when I was a nine-year-old trick-or-treating was a really huge thing – much more so than it is these days.
I remember one year along with two buddies making the rounds, bravely knocking on the door of an old lady who was known to be a bit of a reclusive oddball. Of course, there were stories that she sacrificed cats and played canasta on Friday evenings with the devil and several ghosts, but now as an adult, I know that such stories were just tall tales. How can ghosts pick up their cards? Anyhow, the old lady smiled sweetly at us once she’d opened the door and we’d chorused ‘trick-or-treat’. She remarked that we all must be thirsty, disappeared back into her house then re-emerged with three glasses of water. It was a ‘treat’ we hardly welcomed, but we were too scared to ‘trick’ her in case she turned us into goats.
Of course I’m too old for trick-or-treating these days, but I do spend the evening with a few friends who chaperon their children around the neighborhood. Halloween has become a special part of childhood, and between the times you’re too young to remember it and too old (and too cool) to partake of it, it doesn’t happen that often. It pays to record and preserve the trick-or-treating exploits of your young hooligans, so they can later relive the memories of dressing up, running around in the dark and the sugar rush into the early hours.
Even if you’re a grown up you can still enjoy Halloween, and you may still get spooked. Walking home the other evening I rounded a corner to bump into five very tall, very scary clowns – the true stuff of nightmares! I had to ask them if they were real just to make sure, and I haven’t had a peaceful night’s sleep since …