Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

The witches fly
Across the sky,
The owls go,
"Who? Who? Who?"
The black cats yowl
And green ghosts howl,
"Scary Halloween to you!"
Nina Willis Walter
Everyone is a moon and has a dark side, which he never shows to anybody.
Mark Twain

I love, love, love Halloween! It’s a combination of my favorite things: autumn, ghosts, smells of burning leaves, vibrant oranges, reds, and browns, sweatshirts, rakes, split-rail fences. Halloween takes me back to my childhood when I lived in on a hill in very rural Pennsylvania. I close my eyes and I see the heaps of fallen leaves just waiting for me to jump in to. I can smell pumpkin ‘guts’ and can remember the thrill of sticking my handI had a dusty green sweatshirt that was so soft and fluffy on the inside and my mom would pull the hood down tight to make sure that not one windy breeze hit my ears. I can hear the crackly-crunch of the dried leaves, smell the cold in the air. I can remember the death of the garden. Cornstalks leaning over like old men turning into spirits. Old black rotten tomatoes that would sprout volunteers the following summer. No fear of snakes – it was too cold! We would trick-or-treat in town. Knocking on the doors, often the backdoors that we didn’t get to see during the day. Such a novelty being outside in town at night. Back in the day when we were more likely to get homemade cookies, or apples, or popcorn balls. Back when moms didn’t have to race home after work to grab their kids, throw dinner in (or maybe pick up a quick pizza), before rushing off to beg for candy. Back when Halloween was celebrated on the 31st on not on a Thursday because Halloween falls on a Friday and afterall, there’s a football game that night. Back when Halloween was spelled Hallowe’en (for what reason, I don’t know). Back when school kids learned little songs like:
‘Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate, The first one said, "Oh my, it's getting late." The second one said, "But we don't care." The third one said, "I see witches in the air." The fourth one said, "Let's run, and run, and run." The fifth one said, "Get ready for some fun." Then whoosh
went the wind, and out went the lights, And five little pumpkins rolled out of sight!” (anonymous)

Now that I’m an adult I hold all my Halloween memories close, trying to give those same memories to my children. But times are NOT the same. My parents still come down every home football game to cheer on their beloved Nittany Lions and to show support for JoePa. But mom is in her 70s and doesn’t hear so well and dad is in his 80s and isn’t quite as fiesty as opinionated as I remember – although he IS still quite the chocoholic and most of the Halloween candy my mom buys gets eaten by dad. My favorite aunt is gone so there will be no sweet Halloween card from her this year. Even my kids are more sophisticated in their choices for Halloween costumes this year. Thank goodness though, my husband regresses tremendously around Halloween time. He becomes absolutely giddy with thoughts of trick or treating! I know I’ll let the kids stay up late – energized by the pounds of sugar they’ve eaten despite my warnings that they’ll get sick. I know that tomorrow I’ll have post-Halloween blues. Well maybe not until Sunday since on Saturday the kids and I are going to a Halloween Hoopla with a new group of people who I’ve never met who are part of a sustainable-living community. I saw the advertisement – bring your musical instruments for food, music, and a bonfire – sounds like fun for me! But Sunday will be sad for me for sure. Because the day after Halloween reminds me of the quick slide into the most anxiety producing time of the year for me.

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