It's that time of year again. When I was a kid, it involved at least a month of planning and intense anticipation. We learned songs called C'est l'hallowe'en at school; we watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on TV; we begged our Mom, please pleeeaaaase PLEASE puh-lease to buy us real, store-bought costumes this year, at Wolco; we picked out ridiculous pumpkins to bring home and then let Dad do the real work carving them. And then finally, the big day arrived.
Every year we dressed up as fatties: fat nuns, fat clowns, fat witches, fat princesses, because we had to cram our snowsuits underneath whatever costumes we were wearing. Glen usually came over to trick-or-treat with me, and we would arm ourselves with 2 pillowcases each. Two because eventually the first pillowcase full of candy would become too heavy for our little arms to carry, so we would have to make a pit stop to store the first bag and go down the next street with a fresh start. I remember facing actual blizzards just to get that candy, and it's hard to trudge up and down everyone's front steps in snowboots! But boy was it worth it. And when we finally finished with all the neighbourhood houses, we would get in the van and go visit the other people who expected to see us in our costumes.
First, to the Bosse house, who had formerly been our neighbours, but Mr. Boss was also our dentist. We always got new toothbrushes and floss along with our candy at their house. And of course to Grandma's house we went, where every year we got....fudge. Yup, little blocks of fudge wrapped in seran, the kind of thing that our teachers warned us to never accept, and our parents warned us never to accept (it falls into the same category as apples full of pins and razor blades) but of course from Grandma it was fine. Except I don't think any of us actually liked fudge. But we were polite kids, and we had our picture taken, and it was all well and good, but we were all impatient for what really mattered: the customary dumping of 10 pillowcases of candy all over Grandma's living room floor (2 each for Glen, Jamie, J, T, and Jan). We would make piles: gum, chips, chocolate, suckers, softdrinks, etc. One big pile in the middle would be for all the stuff we donated to Dad (the stuff we wouldn't eat): those horrid kisses, peanuts, raisins, and probably the fudge once we got home. And then it was barter time. Popeye cigarrettes and tubes of rockets didn't hold much value, but man, if you had a bag of cheesies, or a can of cream soda, or a peanut butter cup, you held all the power. And of course Mom would say something dumb like "Only two pieces of candy or you'll make yourself sick" which was promptly ignored. In fact, I do recall at least one Halloween where Jan did make herself sick, but then Jan was the candy monger among us.
Today Halloween doesn't hold as much power as it used to, unless you're my Mom, who has recently reclaimed the holiday along with her friend Joan. They have made a habit out of renting the most obscene costumes (rented costumes....apparently only for adults) and trick-or-treating for liquor and Doritos. But the rest of us spend the night remeniscing about days long past, and even missing Grandma's fudge now that she is gone.
Halloween used to be a day you didn't have to work hard, because at school you coloured pumpkin scenes and had costume parades and school dances. But now we go in to work just like any other day and Halloween loses its mysticism. Except of course for my dear friend Sarah M. who celebrates her birthday on October 31st. I hope you have a good one Sarah, and any of you reading this who know and love her can certainly add your birthday wishes for her in the comments section of this post. As for the rest of you, I do wish you a happy Halloween, and I hope we can all find a way to be at least a little childish and sugar-high on that day. If you have any big plans, or better yet, if you have any great Halloween memories (favourite costume, coldest year, etc) be sure to let me know in your comments!!