Halloween is Coming!

I love Halloween. Of course, if you’re anywhere near where I live, that fact is easily discerned. All you have to do is look at the orange lights, the glowing spiders, and the pumpkin-headed scarecrow on the porch to know that there’s somebody here who enjoys celebrate the spooky things in life.

I’ve always loved Halloween. Always. I remember my excitement as a child as the weather first turned cool and cardboard Halloween masks first appeared at the corner store.  You tied them on with string and, of course, they didn’t last long,  but oh, the thrill of finding them on the shelf. It meant the days would be getting shorter, the nights would grow longer, and the time for ghostly tales would soon come.

My love of the supernatural holiday increased when I received a gigantic “All About Halloween” book — presented in comic-book format. I didn’t merely read and re-read the book. I devoured it. From it I learned about Robert Houdin, and Erik Weisz, who would go on to become the great “Harry Houdini” — basing his stage name on Houdin.

As I grew up, I collected Halloween party games, learned magic tricks, and memorized ghost stories.  I searched out recipes for Halloween goodies and always went a little crazy when the first black spiders and orange pumpkins showed up in stores. I still do.

This year, I found delightful eyeballs that glow in the dark. Freeze them, and put ’em in a drink or a punchbowl. The kids at our “scarecrow-making” party last weekend went crazy for the eyeballs.

I also found Jell-o “jiggler” molds for Halloween, and I bought a half-dozen “ravens” to set about the house.

I have ghosts in the bathroom, jack o’lanterns in several rooms — all with glowing lights — and a witch’s cauldron is on the table. Soon it will be filled with “goody bags” for little goblins.

Nobody ever believes me when I talk about how the Halloween season used to be when I was growing up. Yes, I said “season”. It lasted far more than a single night back then. At least, it did in the town where I grew up.

 

Jack-o-lantern

Jack-o-lantern 

We’d get the first trick-or-treaters about mid-month. Each night, a few more would come by. My grandfather’s rule was that I couldn’t dress up and go trick-or-treating until we had at least six kids on one night. After that, it was “officially” Halloween, and I could grab my bag and head out for treats.

My friends and I kept notes of who gave the best treats, and we’d go back each night when we went out. Mrs. Cave always was a favorite. She baked delicious oatmeal cookies with lots of cinnamon. She used to invite us in for hot chocolate, too.

All of this was before the time when towns decided to throw their own Halloween shindigs. Once the town stepped in, Halloween became, as it is today, a one-night-a-year deal. Dress up. Go to town. Have a cold hot dog, a cup of watery orange drink, and that’s about it.

Maybe other towns did more, maybe they still do, but our little celebration took a lot of fun out of the holiday.

I guess that’s why I go a little crazy now with it all, wanting to give kids today a little of the same fun and excitement I used to feel, back in the days when Halloween wasn’t just a night but an entire season of spooky fun.

 

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