Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

Note: Edited for Clarity. And also logic. Not that this makes the post any better, but it's less horrible than it was!

I might not have the most standard Halloween background. My childhood neighborhood, according to my mother (which makes this following statistic NON BIASED and therefore RELIABLE) gets about 400 trick or treaters on Halloween night. Everyone who just dropped by Target for a last minute bag of candy should take note of this because it seriously increases the number of mini-snickers bags you have to pick up. We get the usual heart-rendingly darling small fry, but also a huge number of surly, un-costumed enormous types who are a. far too large to be doing this and b. sometimes bringing their GRANDCHILDREN around with them and still holding out their pillowcase crammed with sugar.

This means I have an in-bred tendency to over-prepare for Halloween. If you add that up with a previous admitted crap-making tendency we're talking problem territory.

So yes, I admit the year we were in Virginia I made about a hundred felt bags (four designs: skull, bat, ghost and pumpkin. Personally, I rather liked the skull and the ghosts). That's a hundred little bags with hand-appliqued designs on them people. These were filled with sticky hands (don't ask), holiday bubble-blowers, and candy. We got... hmmm....maybe 10 kids ringing our bell? But our kids were thrilled since they got to enjoy the left-overs. We had sticky hands to play with for the next two years. Thinking of this episode makes me cringe from remembered craftiness. It's a very sad thing.

But the costumes that year were the best we ever did. Child 1 wanted to be a ghost, which sounds a bit dull, but we dressed it up with layer on layer of cheese cloth goulishness (my contribution) and then added those glow-stick chemical things underneath - the ones that you have to snap to create several hours of green eerie light (Kirk's brilliant concept, and may I say that was the coolest ghost ever?). Child 3 was a robot with glow-in-the-dark paint on its costume buttons (again, my contribution), and a tap light on its helmet (paint plus plastic plant pot - Kirk's brilliance again, darn him). Child 2 though was all me, and Child 2, it was a person being eaten by a shark (full marks to Child 2 for the best costume concept in history). This was, without doubt, the coolest costume we ever made. I sewed up the top half of a shark, with glow-in-the-dark teeth rimmed with gore (oh my gosh, this was an INCREDIBLE shark... You can tell how awesome the whole thing was by the unrestricted use of parentheses) and Child 2 wore its swim suit and a pair of goggles. I have to say, our neighbors were probably not nearly fabulous enough to appreciate our creative costuming. The only problem was this was our first post-Alaska trick or treating, and I was very fussed over the thought of poor little Child 2 freezing in its bathing suit. I worried and bothered, and reminded them several times that should Child 2 get cold it must be hustled straight home so I could cuddle it properly and give it hot chocolate. Naturally Child 2 nearly suffocated in its very impressive, but extremely well insulated shark, and had to flip the head over to dangle down its back just to get enough fresh air between houses.

In California the trick-or-treating was prime - lots of great houses, lots of friendly people, lots of insane types who handed out FULL SIZED candy bars thank you very much, and the good kind too! The problem was our house. We lived in a house that had a long driveway flanked by dark and looming hedges. The intrepid trick-or-treater would have to creeeeeaaak open the slightly rusty gate, thread its way past our attractive-but-threatening landscaping, around the corner, and then pound on our dark gee-we'd-love-to-carve-you-up-with-a-cut-rate-home-improvement-tool front door just to score a tiny bag of Skittles or something. Now, for the older kids this was just extra stuff, but the tiny types were too shy to even get to the gate. So Kirk and I just set ourselves at the end of the drive in our watching-soccer-games chairs with a bottle of red wine and a large bowl full of over-prepared treats. Sure, I was still begging small children to take several handfuls of foam dinosaur gliders and a slide whistle, but there were lots of other people around to join in the fun which made me community spirited and not faintly disturbing.

The year Kirk disappeared I set up my chair, poured a single glass of wine, and handed out handfuls of toys and candy. And I smiled at the older kids, and talked to the little ones about who they were, and why they chose that costume, and how Belle is the prettiest princess but Cinderella is nice too. I counted four dalmation puppies and seven Harry Potters. And my kids came and kept me company, and I did not cry.

This year I'm firmly esconced in the basement, refusing to partake of the greed-fest that is my neighborhood's trick-or-treat tradition. I can't enjoy watching three generations of people shake down the people around me for five dollars' worth of sugar-rush (oh dear. I think my prejudice is showing. Golly... I feel rotten) But I'm thinking of Kirk, laughing at our kid's fantastic costumes and the tiny little kids tottering around with the wonder of their first trick-or-treat, and that's enough holiday tradition for me. At least this year.

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