A broken tooth on a dirty basement floor.
Fingernails scratching at the window.
Blood on a shard of broken glass.
Muffled screams in the attic.
A doll missing the head.
Oh, I'm sorry, that was my everyday childhood memories.
What I remember fondly is the traditions that we had each year as we went trick or treating. The traditions were a comfort each year, but at the same time agonizing…
We'd head over to see family friends and eat supper before going trick or treating in their neighborhood (the same one I live in now, how cool is that?!). We would go over to their house around 6:00 for chili before the blessed event (Nancy could make chili like nobody’s business but we didn’t care, we wanted CANDY!!!). I remember her sweet tea too. It was true Southern sweet tea, taken to the brink of solution saturation with white sugar. It could double as pancake syrup, just the way I liked it, closer to an energy drink than tea.
We would wear our costumes over and worriedly look at the quickly darkening sky, it was almost time and we still had to eat supper. Torture!!! We knew that the adults would sit around and talk and talk and talk, leaning back and "letting the food settle." That was the murderous part! Did they not understand?! Did they not know the immediacy of the situation?! This was Halloween! There were doors to knock on, bells to ring, glorious candy to get and they’re sitting around wondering if they should get dessert or wait till later?!!
Finally we would set out into the crisp night air, the miniscule rubber band holding our masks on by the tiniest staple imaginable pulled the back of our hair but heck, it’s Halloween, time to get to work! As we ran ahead, our parents strolled down the street just as a formality. We furiously ran from house to house and the folks were always dawdling behind. We whined for them to hurry up until we saw the blessed wave of our dads, ‘Go on, go on!’
Those were the days when kids went out, they came back safely, people didn’t really worry about keeping their doors locked and we rode in the back of pickup trucks as a treat before it became illegal.
With that wave, we were off, running from house to house yelling “Trick or Treat!” and receiving the fruits of our labors. We would see pumpkins carved into jack-o'-lanterns on stoops with the familiar burnt pumpkin smell that came from too tall of a candle, before the days of electric tea lights and the overly cautious society mentality. That smell even now brings back delightful nostalgic memories of those cool autumn October 31sts. Then around 9:00, we were back, sitting in the floor going through our booty, sifting through the good (little Hershey bars) the bad (cheap hard candy) and the ugly (WHO PUT THAT &%$@# BOX OF RAISINS IN THERE?!).
It was the whole package of Halloween; the days leading up to Halloween were filled with images of paper skeletons, the excitement and anticipation of going out at night dressed as someone or something else into the night, and looking up into the night sky with some anxiety and hope that one might actually see a flying witch or a ghost.
THAT is the Halloween that I remember, and the one that I want to share with the kids of today.