Ghosts of Halloween Past

Blog post No. 467

knoebels-hallo-fun-sign_54_990x660I have a terrible memory. Which is funny since a lot of my posts over the last few years have been about me looking back on my past. But really, outside of a general vague sense of my childhood, I have a handful of vivid memories that stand out. For some reason (or several reasons more likely) a number of those memories are about Halloween. Sure, Halloween is over, but I’m on a roll with these posts about my personal past and I hate how the minute November starts it’s somehow Christmas season already. So I’m dragging my feet and trying to keep October alive for one more week. The biggest reason is likely that I love the holiday. I’ve loved it ever since I was a child. It was like Christmas but without the obligations. Halloween is a real holiday for kids (and drunken adults, I suppose).Not that I was ever a huge drinker. Or a party person. Though, the best parties (and nights out on the town) were usually Halloween celebrations. From parties at friends’ places to nights out at the Loop. There’s something about wearing a costume that allows people to be a little more free. In some cases (like when the person isn’t so nice) that extra freedom is either unnecessary or troublesome. But for a shy individual who is often too reserved, that extra little push led to some good times (and memories of those good times).

1985 Press Photo Blessed Sacrament School Halloween Parade in EastwoodBut the adult side of Halloween is really a small extension from the main holiday. (Like the hangover that comes from those same nights, but less painful). I have heard stories about the origin of Halloween (some of them contradictory) but I don’t care all that much about that. (Not any more than any general history). What matters to me is what I like to consider the hay-day of the holiday. Coincidentally that would be the consumerism soaked period of my own youth.

I said it last week in my post about The 1990s, but I try to view my childhood with an open mind. To see the warping of the past that’s unavoidable due to our terrible, untrustworthy memories. That said, I can clearly remember sitting in class in grade school, making arts and crafts and singing French songs about Halloween. My grade school did a costume parade and we would get some treats (usually for answering questions in class or from a teacher feeling overly generous) but the real show didn’t start until the evening.

explorers-river-phoenix-joe-danteSitting at the dinner table, waiting for it to be late enough to go trick-or-treating was as agonizing as watching the clock on Christmas morning. As much as the whole point was to get candy, it was also about being free. I was lucky enough to be a child at the tail end of the “be home when the streetlights come on” era, but to be able to wander the streets with some friends, going door to door, mapping out the optimal route, staying out late enough to have to guess which houses may still be dolling out the treats. It was exhilarating.

As a kid who was often labeled weird, Halloween was also a time to express myself. My mom made most of my costumes as a child. She would ask us really early when we hadn’t even thought about it, yet, and spend weeks sewing and gluing together amazing costumes for us. I remember the year I wanted to be Donald Duck for some reason. She found a pattern and made a costume worthy of modern cosplay. There was another year I wanted to be a swamp monster (just to be different) and she figured out how to make it happen. With some green garbage bags and folded paper flowers (and some green face-paint) that year I was exactly what I had imagined.

spaceman-spiff-bailey-s-bosanquetWhen I got older I would my own costumes for parties (often with a little help from mom). Some of those costumes worked out okay, like Spaceman Spiff, but I never left myself enough time to do them justice. Though, my favourite Halloween costumes was when I went to a concert as a werewolf, but since it wasn’t a full moon, I just tried to look like I’d been living in the woods. No one appreciated that one.

Not that I need any more reason to wallow in self pity. Now (in the future where I’m writing this blog post) I’m just working on the novella (which is about to go out to beta readers any time now) and lamenting the early start to Christmas (again). Not that I hate Christmas, I just don’t think the 12 days should take up two months.

2 thoughts on “Ghosts of Halloween Past

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