I’m getting ready for my second favorite holiday of the year. I’ve been picking up sweet, vintage decorations for the house when I see them and I’m reading a book of ghost stories. WAIT! I must stop my madness and living a lie. I need to bring my skeletons out of the closet. Come out of my haunted house and into the pale light, of the full moon. “Halloween is my favorite holiday”! It’s true! Sorry Santa!
While Christmas gets the title as “the most wonderful time of the year” sprinkled with magical child wonderment; Halloween meets these same standards and is truly a magical time for me. What other holiday lets you dress up and transform yourself into ANYTHING, go out, walk around at night and get candy; all while people are oohing and awing over your costume? Try walking into Grand-mama’s house with the rest of the family on Christmas dressed as a pirate and everyone will think the butter has slipped off your biscuit. But, do it on Halloween and you will be smothered in kisses, declared the most beautiful/handsome pirate to plunder the neighborhood and given a regular size Snickers bar.
The traditions and decorations of Halloween date further back than any other holiday I can think of and carry on today. I have memories of my costumes from childhood (and some from adulthood) that make me laugh out loud when I think of them. My sister deciding, I was going to be a Mummy one year, wrapped me head to toe in a bunch of my dad’s ACE bandages. My dad was not amused that we used all his bandages for this purpose but, was quite proud of her creativity, so he let it slide. I also remember another favorite… The boxed costumes. Ones that went over your clothes and tied in the back. The fabric was paper thin but would usually hold up for the evening. More often than not the tie broke! But never fear, a large safety pin will appear… at least if my sister had anything to do with it! I would then proudly put on that flimsy plastic mask held on with a thin elastic band that usually broke after the fourth house. (You would have to move it up and down on your head because your face was sweating like crazy and/or none of the holes and slits would line up where they were supposed to, so you had to breathe through your mouth and your breath created condensation.) I would grab my pillow case, get told a million times to stay away from the candles in the pumpkins, so I don’t go up in flames, (there was no such thing as flame retardant material in the 70’s, that’s just how we rolled) and out the door I went. Those costumes cost maybe two or three dollars at the time and you could be a princess, skeleton, or superhero. Some of the most popular brands were by Collegeville and Ben Cooper. They were awesome and now they’re collector’s items. I saw some at Brimfield Antique Market a few years ago and all those memories of wearing them, came flooding back.
My Mom would always decorate for Halloween around the house. Black cat here, ceramic carved pumpkins there surrounded by garlands of leaves, gourds and Indian corn. I remember her always putting up the old plastic popcorn ghost on my door. I think that spawned my love and my sister’s love of Halloween. My sister adores black cats. She has a beautiful collection of vintage black cats and black cat inspired items. And, she has been decorating a Halloween tree before they were cool. I’m all about the jack-o-lanterns. I have my Mom’s large ceramic one and a nice little collection I’ve built around it. And we both love the vintage Halloween blow molds by Don Featherstone, Union, and the Empire Company. We proudly display them in their special places every year. You can look-y but no touchy!
Maybe it’s the innocence of a child so excited about becoming a real transformer or zombie for the night or the not so hurried and harried preparation for Halloween that I love so much. I mean after all there are no real expectations from anyone. No giant dinner to cook or presents to fret over, buy and wrap. Just family and friends getting together in a relaxed atmosphere to eat pizza and walk around the neighborhood. No rushing around. Just catching up as you walk the kids around and visit with the neighbors. You may rarely see Mrs. Johnson or old Mr. Jones. But every year, faithfully, they can be found sitting on their porch, or watching from their living room window… waiting. Waiting for all the little ones to repeat the magical spell “Trick or Treat” which in an instant unlocks memories of times gone by. And they tell your children, how big they have gotten and how their mother use to come by when she was a little girl. It warms your heart. That is the magic, and it is powerful magic! And maybe just maybe, if you look up into the night sky on Halloween Eve, you might see a broom zoom by…because…even Santa likes to dress up.