It’s Hallowe’en, the lamps are lit and . . .

I remember when Hallowe’en was a big deal, before I worried about my teeth or my children’s teeth, before I was aware of the not-so-nice people who tampered with candy to do harm.
When I was growing up, our costumes were usually created from something we found around the house, except for a skeleton costume that was handed down like a family heirloom, a right of passage.
It was made of a black scratchy fabric, like no fabric I have come across since, and which had no give to it whatsoever.
The mask was a hood that pulled on over the head with eyes cut out and a breathing hole of sorts. Bones were painted on the fabric in white paint.
My brother and sister wore the skeleton before I was of age and I have no idea who had worn it before them, but the costume was ancient it seemed to me.
I didn’t do a whole lot of growing so I was able to wear the skeleton costume for many years. By the time it got to me the femur and a couple of ribs had left for parts unknown.
I didn’t mind, but was slightly relieved to finally outgrow the skeleton.
I now find myself wondering about the story of that costume, where it came from and where it ended up.
Once I moved beyond the skeleton I did the customary hobo costume and pirate and witch. I was a cowboy and a ghost.
Children love and embrace the idea of being something else, something strange and wonderful, even if it means wearing a winter jacket over top.
My parents took us into town to my aunt’s house where we would run around the neighbourhood relishing in having homes so close together, our pillowcases filling quickly.
I sometimes went with Duane and on one occasion he set his bag down at the corner of Armit and Nelson while he tied his shoes and some big kid snatched up his candy haul and ran off with it.
I don’t recall if we chased after him or merely stood in disbelief that someone would stoop so low as to take our candy treasure.
My sister and I shared our take with Duane and we were all the better for it, but it was an introduction into the world where the biggest and meanest seem to prevail.
Abandoning trick-or-treating was a tough transition. We’re caught in the middle of letting go of our childhood rituals to move blindly into something else we aren’t sure of.
I reluctantly gave up on Santa Claus though not without a fight and I was ten when I wrote my last letter to him, which he apparently ignored because I did not find a Secret Sam Spy Kit under the Christmas tree that year.
I was disillusioned, puzzled by this growing up thing, not because I didn’t get what I hoped for but because something I had believed in with such conviction turned out to be something else entirely.
This isn’t unique to me I realize, but by my age it should all make sense. I’m not sure it does.
I created costumes for my daughters from elephants to ghosts to kittens to wizards and everything in between. We carved pumpkins with happy faces and scary faces.
I groaned about the candy consumed, I tired of the rules required to balance candy consumption with teeth brushing, but I reveled in the fun of dressing them up.
Now it’s on to the next generation, my grandchildren becoming Spider Man and Paw Patrol characters and unicorns.
Happy Hallowe’en, trick-or-treaters.
wendistewart@live.ca

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail