'Twas the Night Before Halloween
What kept me awake, I wonder? Was candy such a big deal? Was dressing up as someone or something else worth losing sleep over? I really can't remember what had me in such a dither the night before Halloween.
My costume was usually homemade - seems like I was always a gypsy - except for when I was 7 and 8 years old. One year for some reason Daddy sprung for a Siam Princess costume from the dime store. I think it cost a whopping $2.98, and I remember choosing it. Siam Princess? I liked the mask and the shiny yellow and bright pink coverall with some sort of intricate sparkly design. I got two Halloweens'-worth of wear out of it, so when you amortorize the cost, well - practically free. Of course, it was a little big the first year and a little small the second, but no matter.
One thing that kept me awake, I think, was the anticipation of being allowed to go door to door, never knowing who'd give you what, trying to set a goal of how many houses you could get to or how big a paper sack you'd be able to fill. We always took paper bags to collect candy - no plastic pumpkins or trendy little totes - except for the big kids (and you really weren't supposed to trick-or-treat over the age of 12 - but some boys pushed it to 14), who carried pillowcases.
The idea of collecting candy, or whatever - because you were just as likely to get apples or homemade cookies - was exciting. That stuff just wasn't as readily available to us on a day to day basis. Candy, cookies, Coca-Cola - those were all for special occasions. Like Halloween. I don't remember getting much chocolate; it was mostly hard candy or wax lips or bubble gum. I well remember the fun of getting home and dumping it all in the middle of the floor, pooling our resources, trading this or that, with big brother David coming in at the end with a bulging pillowcase (or two) to add to the loot.
As we got too old for trick-or-treating, there were usually parties or the coming-of-age thrill of getting to answer the door and hand out candy.
I tried to provide the same good Halloween memories for daughter Kate when she was growing up, and I think I did. Her costumes were more elaborate, though we did have several rag-bag homemade ones, and the decorations grew well beyond a simple carved pumpkin, though not to the level of many houses today.
And now I get to re-live Halloween excitement with grands Liam and Charlotte. Liam, at 4 years old, is just coming into his own where the euphoria of Halloween is concerned. The super-hero costume, the thought of trick-or-treating with his family and buddies, the anticipation of what candy he’ll acquire for his efforts - yes, the thrill lives on.
Still, if I lie in bed tonight and try to dredge up the feeling of being an 8-year-old Siam Princess again, who knows? Maybe I won't get much sleep after all.