When I was young, Halloween always gave me the creeps. Of course, you say. It’s supposed to!
But no, I dreaded the day. The only Halloween I remember was spent with my cousin Patty, her friend Judy, and my sister. We decided (probably with some adult input) to be the three witches from Macbeth. My sister helped us make our costumes. Each of us had a yarn wig of a different color: yellow, red, and black. I don’t remember which color I had. We trolled the neighborhood in Van Nuys, reciting, “Boil, boil, toil and trouble! Give us candy on the double!”
That may have been my last Halloween appearance until I was married and living in Iowa. My husband and I decided to throw a Halloween party. I made our costumes. He wore a giant papier mache chicken head. I was a princess mouse. For his costume, one friend stapled hundreds of fall leaves to a plastic rain cape. That night, when he crouched on the ground, he was totally camouflaged, and terrified us when he jumped up.
The next Halloween night I recall was the height of beauty and magic. My godchildren’s Waldorf school created an Enchanted Walk through the woods in Wallkill. The children made their costumes (with help) and participated in mysterious scenes in clearings in the woods: a fairy on a swing, a dwarf pounding on an anvil, haunting music coming from afar. It was lovely, and such a pleasant change from violence, blood, and danger.
For some reason, Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) has always appealed to me much more than Halloween. The costumes are often creepy, but the whole atmosphere and motivation is totally different. Making food for deceased relatives, decorating the graveyard with marigolds and candles, and eating special foods is so much richer than collecting candy and TP-ing your neighbors’ trees.
Halloween is coming around again. Will my granddaughters love it more than I ever did?