Tomorrow is Halloween. Once upon a time at the little house in the big woods, we had lots of small ghosties and ghoulies come trick-or-treating. What fun it was! Clif often dressed in a long, black wizard’s robe as he passed out the candy, which filled a large wooden bowl that we set on the buffet by the side door. (In Maine, nobody uses the front door, and we are no exception.)
One year on a fine Halloween, Clif rigged up speakers that blared spooky music in the woods. He also hung up “ghosts” in the trees, and they swayed back and forth in the breezy night. This was certainly a big hit with the trick-or-treaters.
But as our children grew, and our friends’ children, too, the stream of trick-or-treaters slowed to a trickle and then dried up entirely. Every year, we turn on the porch light and have a bowl of candy ready, but no one comes. It makes us sad, but we understand. We do not live in a neighborhood, and nowadays, we don’t know many families with small children. (This, ahem, forces us to eat a lot of candy.)
As a child, I absolutely adored Halloween. Few parents made their children costumes, at least in the country village I lived in. We mostly had off-the-rack costumes that came with those plastics masks that made a child’s face sweaty even on the chilliest night.
Never mind! It was still a magical night. Off we would go with our little plastic pumpkins—the more ambitious trick-or-treaters carried pillow cases. Our village was so safe that we were allowed to go alone, with younger brothers and sisters and tow. We prowled the dark streets, stopping at every lighted house, and indeed nearly every house was lighted for us. Once in a while we would get the dreaded box of raisins, but mostly the adults understood that what we wanted was candy, and candy is what they gave us.
At home, my brother and I would empty our candy on the floor so that we could examine our loot. Usually we got the snack-size packages of Pom-Poms, Butter Fingers, and other goodies. But every once in a while some generous adult would give a full-size candy bar, and that was always a cause for celebration. Then the bargaining would begin as my brother and I would trade the candy that we didn’t like. (Candy I didn’t like? Was that possible? When did I ever encounter candy I didn’t like? I suspect the trading was mostly instigated by my brother, who doesn’t have a sweet tooth and thus received candy that he wasn’t fond of.)
After the trading, I would have a glorious stash of candy, which I kept in my bedroom, where I could dip into it whenever I wanted without having to ask permission. Such delicious freedom, and it only came once a year.
Well, no more trick-or-treating, no more trick-or-treaters. But we do have a few Halloween frogs to cheer us up. I’ve collected them from my gardens and have arrayed them on the porch along with leaves and little pumpkins.
A happy halloween to all! If you are lucky enough to have little ghosties and ghoulies in your life, then I hope they receive many sweet treats.