Trick or Treat… by JoAnn

A pumpkin with a hat on top of it.

 There is a chill in the air and the familiar smell of Fall is finally here!  I don’t know if it was the madness of 2020, but this Summer seemed to last forever.  I thought the hot temperatures and high humidity would never end.

With cool temps comes the promise of the first winter holiday, Halloween.  Whether or not you celebrate Halloween, admit that this time of year is festive.  The beautiful Fall colors are in their glory, the sun is shining, but there is a crispness in the air that brings out our favorite sweater.  It’s just a wonderful season, and Halloween fits right in.

I remember as a kid in the 1960s, Halloween was about two things.  A costume and trick or treating for free candy.  My mama did not sew but she was very talented in the kitchen, gardening, and many other things.  However, she never had the knack for using a sewing machine.  That meant any costumes would be store bought or improvised.  Since money was usually tight, a mask was our one and only choice in the store-bought category.  I remember having several masks and they included; Casper the Friendly Ghost, a witch, and a Gorilla.  Why I wanted the Gorilla, I do not understand.  It was pretty ugly, but I loved it. 

Since we lived in Northeast Tennessee, the weather was usually cold by Halloween.  So, we didn’t worry so much about a costume as we did a warm coat, which worked out great for us.  As long as we had our mask, we were good.  Our daddy was always the one who would take my sister and me to trick or treat.  We would go into town, where neighborhoods had homes close to each other with sidewalks.  It was so very exciting for us!  My sister and I did not get sweets daily, so getting free candy was magical.  I didn’t care what kind of candy it was, anything with sugar would do 😊!  

I remember one particular house that we would visit each Halloween.  In it lived an elderly lady and her rather peculiar adult daughter.  They always gave us peanut butter and saltine crackers that they had made themselves and wrapped in wax paper.  For some reason, I just could not choke down one of those crackers.  My daddy kept telling me that the ladies were nice, and that we should be thankful they had shared what they had with us.  I knew he was right, but my taste buds always told me otherwise.  I remember Daddy eating one to show us that they were good.  It didn’t help 😊.  He continued to take us back to their house every Halloween and I believe he was trying to teach us a lesson about people being different and that it’s okay.  I didn’t learn the lesson then, but I did when I was a little older, and I never forgot those two ladies or those peanut butter crackers.  It’s probably safe to say that I remember them every Halloween.  Thanks daddy.

When the day came that I had kids of my own, Halloween lost its magic and became more of a chore for me.  Indulging them with store bought costumes that I never got as a kid or trying to be a good mommy and make one for them, was more stress than fun for me.  We usually had to sacrifice to pay for a store costume, and like my mama, I had no talent for sewing.  I could come up with some pretty cute ideas using every day household items like hair curlers, makeup, old robes, and fuzzy slippers to make my daughters Robin and Christine an overworked housewife.  They looked adorable but weren’t as happy as they would have been with a real costume.  

I do think my kids had as much, or more fun than I did on their Halloweens.  Except for the years that we attended a church that did not believe in the holiday being celebrated.  Then Halloween was replaced with Fall Festivals, which were fun, and some even encouraged the kids to wear costumes.  Non-Halloween costumes of course.  There would be a bonfire, roasted marshmallows, hot dogs, free candy, and games but my kids were always sad if they didn’t get to trick or treat. 

By the time my youngest was about 8 years old, her older sisters had outgrown trick or treating.  I decided to let her choose if she wanted a Fall Festival or a traditional Halloween.  This mama was quite tired of the whole ordeal, and just wanted her little girl to be happy.  Being the intelligent and creative girl my Chelsea has always been, she chose both!  So, we attended the church’s festival, and she created her own costume, and I took her trick or treating.  

Truth be told, I kinda got burned-out on Halloween when my daughters were growing up.  I enjoyed watching my grand babies go trick or treating for the first time, but lost interest after that.  Does that make me a bad grandma, or just a burned-out mom still?  Who knows?  But I still cherish all of the memories and they are more fun to me now than when they were happening.  Our kids grow up way too fast, and it helps to reminisce and laugh about the successes and the failures.

Happy Halloween all.