I will preface this blog by first admitting that I bring the holiday chaos on myself and love the crazy excitement that fills our house during the month of October. With that said, I still wonder, what happened to the simple trick-or-treating that I experienced when I was a young girl? I don’t remember my parents being so invested in this secondary holiday.
When I look back on Halloween, I don’t remember seeing yards transformed with strobe lights, graveyards, or "inflatables." Some porches may have had a jack-o-lantern with a real candle burning inside, but most of the time, it was simply a house with a doorbell that led to a piece of candy or a home made treat.
My costumes in the 70s consisted of the standard plastic smock, that tied in the back (usually Wonder Woman or a princess), with a plastic mask, that usually ended up on the top of my head due to the inability for my skin to breathe or the poor visibility it offered. Remember those? I believe these may have been discontinued due to the highly flammable material, but my mom and dad may have told me that parental lie to get out of buying me a new one. That might have been the year I got a pillowcase.
My most memorable costume was constructed when my parents gave me a white pillow case and a few markers, and said, "create whatever you want." I drew a lot of hearts on it and re-used my Wonder Woman mask, so I guess I was Wonder Woman!
A close second was the year of the cat. I had ears, a tail and black sweatpants. I didn’t need much more than an imagination to have fun. Aside from those masterpieces, my brother and I tended to be "hobos" or "bums" every year. Easy and simple, and we still got candy. That’s all that really mattered to us.
At what point did Halloween and parental involvement change?
We have created so much fun during the month of October and for the Halloween holiday specifically, that my youngest son, who is 10 years old, loves Halloween more than Christmas! What kid loves Halloween more than Christmas? What have I done to myself?
We decorate, we bake, we make costumes and have a tradition of having soup and chili on the stove for any family or friends who’d like to stop by, even though we aren’t technically home. Luckily, my Mom has been our annual candy-passer-outer which allows my husband and me the time to circle the neighborhood with the boys!
In order to have a successful holiday, we prepare ourselves with hot chocolate or adult beverages and extra pillow cases to dump the buckets and lighten the load for the runners. We also supply a vehicle if it happens to be a cold night in Nebraska. Spoiled? We don’t think of it as spoiling them, because it gives us the opportunity to still take part in this crazy weird holiday.
Where else can I walk around in a home-made Lady Gaga costume and feel normal? I follow the boys and their cousins around with the camera, if I can keep up with them. I try to catch the action shots, while my husband socializes with the neighbors who spend the evening on the driveway next to their fire pits. Again, my parents did not have a fire pit or the desire to socialize with the ghosts and goblins. It just wasn’t necessary in 1978.
We are usually one of the last families circulating the streets and are always surprised when the houses go dark. Already? It’s only 8:15! It always goes so fast! Once the boys are home, they each find a corner of the room and dump their huge loads of candy out in front of them. They dig through those piles to eat, sort and trade their treats. They’ve learned the hard way through the years which candy is the most valuable. A Snickers is worth at least five Smarties or three Laffy Taffy’s. Candy Corn and the old orange wrapped peanut butter chews are freebies...not worth a trade at all.
It’s at this time that we all revisit the desire for Halloween to be on the last Saturday of October, just like Thanksgiving is celebrated on the last Thursday of November. Who doesn’t want this? How can we completely enjoy this fantastically crazy holiday when we have to shut off the fun, scoop up the candy, scrub off the make up, and get to bed in order to be ready for school the next day?
Halloween on the last Saturday of October. Who’s with me? Iowa and a handful of other states have "Beggars’ Night" and trick or treat on October 30th. I don’t understand why they do this, but if they can work that out, why can’t Nebraska make the switch? If there’s a mom out there that can rally up support for Saturday night trick-or-treating, I will gladly sign the petition!