Halloween was a time of cold night air, crunchy, decaying leaves, and homemade costumes. In fact, my sister and I were always dressed in zero-money-spent last minute costumes. I was either a hobo or an old man every year. There were no fairy wings and princess dresses for this kid- that would have been wasteful. In all honesty, it never really mattered what you were wearing as a costume. Your heavy chore jacket and gloves that were required for walking outside at night in the chilly Iowa weather covered up most of it. Thank goodness I was wearing giant ugly snow boots and a plastic mask that impaired my vision and steamed up my face. Those princess slippers looked flimsy and unpractical, I'm sure it would have been horrible to wear them and the pretty pink fluffy skirt that matched....
|My sledding clothing and my Halloween costumes |
were basically the same.
Then there were the haunted houses. My little hometown was full of decrepit buildings that lent themselves perfectly to becoming chambers of terror. With a big community effort, my small town boasted a scary house every year. This fact thrilled my friends and taunted me. I hated being frightened, but I loved hanging out with my friends. For me, haunted houses were a place of peer pressure gone wrong. Twice I was convinced by my friends that it would be "FUN". The first one scared me so senseless that I was sobbing uncontrollably. In fact, the person holding the chainsaw stopped pretending to attack us and removed his mask to show me that he wasn't really a murderer who was going to chop me up into bloody bits. The second one I went through in a group of friends. I closed my eyes tight the entire time and clung to my girlfriend's shirt. After that, my standard response to any pressure to be scared was, "No means no. Back off." That included the time that my friend's eight year old daughter tried to get me to walk into the yard bird pen with her and the moment that my other friend's middle school kid tried to convince me to watch Saw II. Both of those events happened about six years ago. Kids can be real jerks.
But hey, at least I got candy at Halloween! Come to think of it, I didn't even eat my Halloween candy. I ate the Snickers bars then the rest of it sat hardening in a bowl until that girl from my class came over right before Christmas and inhaled it all in a weekend.
So I had shitty costumes, candy that I had to throw out, weird strangers and houses that terrorized me to the point of losing friends and sleep. Come to think of it, I don't really think I liked Halloween at all when I was a kid.
But I like it now.
One person changed my mind. It was Brock. You see, I married a man who LOVES Halloween. He loves costumes, carving jack-o-lanterns and decorating our yearly giant scarecrow. He loves pumpkin patches and corn mazes. He comes home from Target with bags of tombstones, spiders, and bats. He owns an entire Halloween village; a miniature town of scary houses, spooky ghouls, dead trees and creepy goblins. My husband's uncontrolled enthusiasm for Halloween rivals my children's manic passion for Santa. And it seems to be contagious.
I think I caught the Halloween Virus.
It all started with facial hair and pirates. Our first Halloween party we dressed as criminals of the high sea The next year we were a convict and a cop. Brock can rock creepy facial hair like none other.
The next year was a witch and another pirate.
Then we were cowboys.
Then we were an eighties witch and a pirate.
There was a definite pirate them with Brock...
After some convincing, the next year we were Sonny and Cher.
Then we were old school vampires and .... a pirate.
Our costume bin was proving to be limited.
Each year, I heard my spouse describe the elaborate costumes that he wanted to wear. Then I visualized receipts with triple digit numbers at the bottom. Each year, I said "no" to spending that kind of money on a costume. Insanity! Costumes were to be made from pre-owned items! Everyone knows that! We should all just be hobos! Yet each year, as I watched him dress as a pirate again, I felt sorry for him. I started to collect treasures over a period of time- interesting items that I would find on sale- and stuff them into a box in the attic. Each year, as I watched my husband's boyish excitement over a holiday that most people think is for children, my Halloween hating heart grew a size. Eventually, it softened like the mid section of a woman who has given birth- specifically, my mid section.
This year, as we transformed ourselves into someone else, I fully embraced my inner "munster" and proudly walked the streets of our city with my Frankenstein, who worked for hours one night making his giant head. I even saw one evil clown and two haunted houses, but I still managed to have fun.
Oh, and my children liked it too.