Me and October: BFF

The shade of orangey red that is outside my window now is stunning, and that’s just from the mistake sassafrass tree that springs up like a weed every so often.  The huge maple out back is always the last to turn, and it’s a magnificent display of yellow and gold and bronze that could bring me to tears of happiness.  There are warm handknit socks on my feet, and endless cups of tea are consumed for warmth.  Still haven’t turned on the heat yet, as I’m trying to make it to November 1 for absolutely no reason whatsoever, just want to see if we can do it.  It’s about 52 degrees now but I’m counting on the sun to do its job soon, so all is well.

The front of the house has been decked out with corn husks, straw bales, pumpkins, gourds, mums of every color, and an old straw broom.  It’s so ridiculously easy to decorate with flair and style in October, so I am ridiculously happy that all we needed was to throw some stuff together with almost zero effort (and I mean that: Hubby tied up the corn stalks, Older Daughter arranged the mums and gourds, and I approved) and it looks like a magazine.  Well, the kind of magazine I would read, anyway:


Front steps need re-staining. I’ll get the staff right on it.

One thing about October that makes us not BFFs is Halloween.  I realize I run the risk of alienating folks by that statement, but I just don’t like it.  I’ve tried it several times (just like I kept trying Brussels sprouts and I finally did like them so maybe there is hope for Halloween but I doubt it) and I’m trying to keep an open mind, but I don’t like it.  I loved it as a kid, naturally, because free candy, but that was about it.  I didn’t go crazy wishing and planning and dreaming of a costume, we didn’t exercise massive amounts of creativity, I didn’t have a trove of costume material waiting for me in some trunk in the attic.  For that matter, in my very early years we didn’t have an attic.  I’m sure we bought a costume at Woolworth’s, along with a giant paper shopping bag that had a goofy jack-o-lantern grinning and must have been wishful thinking on the manufacturer’s part because that puppy never got filled beyond a quarter of an inch.  

I vaguely remember being a princess in a pink dress one year with one of those awful masks that had the elastic going around the back of your head and causing your hair to get teased and felted both above and below the band so when you tried to take it off it invariably got stuck and the more you pulled the more it got stuck until you howled for your mom who tsked as she tried to get it off and there were usually scissors involved.  The mask was also that divine-smelling plastic that was a whole-face mask (before adults in a committee somewhere decided whole-face masks were dangerous; where were you when I needed you?) so the plastic allowed two almond-shaped holes for eyes and two small round holes near your nose for oxygen.  Being plastic, and being that trick-or-treating involved a bit of walking, heavy breathing happened and then condensation when warm air meets cool plastic.  Because the makers in China wanted a realistic Halloween effect for these selfish American children who go begging for candy, the mask was sculpted realistically and so the condensation pooled under my nose and my chin and truth be told, it was a miserable experience just for orange lollipops and Bit-O-Honeys and the occasional nickel.  I don’t remember getting a lot of chocolate.  I do remember my mother loving chocolate.  Hey….

As an adult, Halloween was pretty much ignored because I didn’t have the kind of friends that threw Halloween parties.  Well, once I did when I was seventeen.  I went with an older boyfriend to a Halloween party and we went as the Lone Ranger and Tonto, because I had long hair that could be braided and I owned a poncho.  This Halloween party consisted of bowls of chips and bottles of soda and music playing and people sitting around in their costumes.  Except for the costumes, not much different than hanging out at somebody’s house but we got the added bonus of being uncomfortable in odd clothes.  That was my only experience with an “adult” Halloween.  Not much to it, I admit, but that’s how I think of Halloween.  Anticipation and preparation and then the “Oh, is that it?” kind of let-down that comes and then “Well, that was a waste of time and money.”

When I had children, I somehow got bit by the crafty bug and I made all their costumes until they were of the age when they said “Really, Mom, could we please just buy something at Toys R Us that looks cool?” and I was off the hook.  If I played my cards right, I would even get Hubby to take them door-to-door so I could stay home and answer the door for all the little hooligans that came by.  I gave them a bowlful of Fun-Sized Treats from Huge Conglomerate Chocolate Factory to choose from and played little games with myself.  If they asked “How many may we have?” they got three each.  If they couldn’t be bothered to say “Trick or Treat!” I handed them one each.  If the older ones who couldn’t be bothered with a costume save for a few smears of face paint under their eyes representing either a zombie or a linebacker, I don’t know, just stood there holding out their grimy pillowcase and staring at me, I stared right back, smiling, until they said something.  (Even on Halloween I had to teach a lesson, didn’t I?  What a teacher.)  Then when my kids came back with Hubby groaning from the weight of their little plastic pumpkins, we had to go through all the candy, scrutinizing it for razor blades, small rips that could represent a hypodermic needle, ground-up glass, and discarding homemade treats.  I’m sure the original intent of a scary Halloween was not to be that scary.

Then I went back to teaching, and I had forgotten that Halloween is a revered time for the very young.  Everyone demanded to know what I was going to be for Halloween, and I was very mysterious about it, declining to share, but in my head I was thinking “WTH, I have to dress up?  When do I ever get away from this!”  Nine times out of ten I would do nothing, and when the little ones would demand “What are you dressed as?” I would answer as always, “The meanest teacher in the school!”  That’s my kind of costume.  One year I got creative and brought my knitting and stuck some needles in my hair and had several balls of yarn trailing out of my pocket and my answer to “What are you dressed as” resulted in “I’m a knit-wit!” and I would snort to myself as the blank stares got even blanker.

Middle school Halloween is just dreadful.  It’s all about how revealing your costume can be without going against the dress code, so forget the sexy pirate costume and anyway you’re only in 7th grade, why are you thinking about being sexy?  It’s also about making sure nobody has a weapon, nobody offends somebody else, nobody has something too scary… it’s just not a good place.  Then there’s the Mischief Night aspect of it, which is traditionally the night before Halloween where all the local groceries are descended upon for eggs, shaving cream, and toilet paper, and the little devils decorate the town in a manner not quite like the one pictured above.

Now my children are grown, I am no longer teaching, and we live on a busy road and get very few trick-or-treaters, especially since Halloween was cancelled for the last two years due to extreme weather conditions.  Yet I still have two giant-sized bags of candy for the day, manufactured by Huge Chocolate Conglomerate Factory, because I have a grown-up child by the name of Hubby and since he worked so hard on the corn stalks I can’t refuse him some treats.  It’s nice that somebody around here enjoys Halloween.







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3 responses to “Me and October: BFF

  1. You mean you never sang Pumpkin Carols (with a nod to Charles Schultz?). What reformed Halloween for me was going Pumpkin Caroling with my friends (we were in our late teens) all decked out in costumes. We’d sing a song or two from the Pumpkin Carol Canon and then hand the person at the door a treat. Seriously. The joy/confusion that we spread for those few years was worth it.

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