Reviving the Family Fun
For generations in my family when Halloween rolled around, was to start planning what you wanted to be around the August before Halloween. I grew up in the age of Saturday morning cartoons, comic books, and Disney movies. My siblings and I had lots to choose from. Old costumes were dug out from under the beds or from tops of closets. We were deciding if the costume that we had worn, from the year before, could be worn again or if we had grown out of the fantasy character that we had been. If we had been a clown, maybe it was time to be The Joker from Batman. If we had been a fairy princess, maybe we could be Cinderella this year. The evolution of our maturity and imagination could be followed by the types of costumes that we had worn over the years. We could count on that by going to the photo albums that our parents had kept year after year.
There were three of us children in the family and every year we had to line up, out on the front porch, dressed up in our Halloween finery, posing while Dad took the pictures with his Nikon. On the years that Halloween fell on a school night, we would all race home, zip through our homework, while the costumes lay waiting on our beds in the bedrooms. Mom would make us a lite, early dinner. We had to eat real food before we filled up on too much candy. My brother and I were the two oldest and our little sister was always the tag-a-long. While we were getting dressed in our costumes. Mom and Dad were downstairs or outside making last minute preparations for the other tricksters that were expected to come to our front door while we were making our way to everyone else’s front doors. Dad would be setting out the jack-o-lanterns or polishing the lens to his camera and setting the film inside it. Mom would be setting up the record player by the front door to play all spooky Halloween sounds from the Disney album. By the time that we were all finished dressing and tumbling down the stairs, you could hear the screams of ghosties and goblins, chains rattling and the moanful sounds of the eerie wind echoing through the house. Candles were lit and lights were lowered. The smell of Fall was heavy in the air. It was Halloween night and we were all raring to get on with it.
Halloweens, in general, for my brother, sister and I, became a thing of the past. We all decided that we were too old to go trick or treating. We would go to the neighborhood parties where costumes were optional. Mom and Dad would look through the ablums and reminence about when we children were younger and say that they really didn’t miss all the preparations that went into it, but we all knew differently. When I got married and had kids of my own, I couldn’t wait to bring back the tradition of costumes, Halloween preparations, decorating, picture taking, baking, and candy giving. My brother and sister all had children also and we decided that we could all take the clan out together for trick or treating, after we stopped by the grandparents to show off the costumes. The grandchildren ranged in ages from 2- 11. There were 6 costumed clowns, fairies, supermen, devils, and one year we had a cell phone….go figure!
The looks of pure joy on our parents faces was enough to make my whole Halloween night special because their children had remembered all the Halloweens that we had enjoyed with them. Mom would have the old record player going, jack-o-lanterns on the porch, candles lit and fresh baked spice cookies waiting for her grandkids. Dad would line them all up on the front porch and take their pictures to add to the old family Halloween album. Sometimes the “gramps” would join us as we made our way down the old neighborhood streets to beg candy from the neighbors. My sister, brother and I would wave to many of the neighbors that still lived in and around the neighborhood. We would smile and glance at each other as we remembered which neighbors we had tp’d the trees on the front lawn or who were the ones that we had gone back to for a second trip for more andy because they had the best.
I hope that the tradition of Halloween is still around when my kids have kids of their own. So many things have changed to make us remember that not all things are as safe as it was when we enjoyed Halloween. Even the parties that were thrown at school has become a thing of the past. As long as we keep it in the family, with all the fun-loving, good times that can be made, then I guess that Halloween will always be a part of my family.