Monday, November 2, 2009
I wish I had a front porch to put a jack-o-lantern on. Setting them out by our front door in the warm Vegas sun doesn’t have the same effect as the pumpkins from my childhood. Then, I remember creeping out onto the chilly porch with my mom to light the candle at dusk, the sweet smell of burnt pumpkin still hanging in the air from the previous night’s burning.
And costumes were better back then. They did have those cheap plastic costumes at the stores in town, but I snubbed my nose at them, preferring the challenge of creating my own costume from the closets in our house and at my Grandma’s. Most kids made their own costumes, probably because of financial reasons, but this made us care more about what we wore, because we spent the weeks before Halloween planning and scheming and coming up with the perfect costume. The immediate gratification of buying something at a store would have robbed us of half the fun.
I grew up in a house on a country road outside of town, so there were no nearby neighbors to walk to for trick-or-treating. Instead, we got into the car and drove to all our family members’ houses, stretching the night’s fun longer into the evening. In contrast, a few years ago I went trick-or-treating with a friend and her family, and I have to say the difference between Vegas trick-or-treating and my rural childhood’s made me a little disappointed. I had expected a leisurely stroll from house to house, but because Vegas houses are crammed so close together, the kids ran like banshees from door to door, sometimes hitting three houses within a minute.
As a kid, half the fun of Halloween was giving out candy to trick-or-treaters who came to our house. But since we lived in the country, hardly any ever came. In fact, I remember one year when I was about 10, and Mom bought special little individual treat bags that I painstakingly filled perfectly with equal amounts of several kinds of candy and then tied with a black and orange bow. I excitedly waited for the kids to come, but no one did. The pitfalls of living in the country. But all I needed was one trick-or-treater to be happy, and usually I got that.
One unusual year Mom and I had several trick-or-treaters, and we had to quickly drive into town to buy candy. While we were gone, someone soaped our windows in clever pictures of smiling jack-o-lanterns and the words “Happy Halloween!” Mom and I laughed about it afterward, happy to be living in a town with such wholesome pranksters.
Enough reminiscing about my childhood and how much better things were back then. After all, back then I didn’t have a patient dog named George who allows me to dress him as Superman. Things are good.