Posted tagged ‘Trick-or-treating’

“But I love Halloween, and I love that feeling: the cold air, the spooky dangers lurking around the corner.”

October 31, 2015

Every kid’s calendar had only three days circled. The biggest and the best day of all was Christmas. Weeks of anticipation, making and changing lists for Santa and decorating the house and tree helped to make the time pass, but it passed ever so slowly, especially Christmas Eve. The second best day was Halloween. What will I be this year was the most important question and a topic of great discussion walking to and from school. The third circled day was our birthdays. They didn’t need any preparation and were anticipated but not with the same level of excitement as the other two days. My birthday came with a present, a few cards, always one with two dollars from my grandmother, and a cake. Blow out the candles, eat cake, open presents, and it’s over for another year. Christmas and Halloween seemed to last days. They had a before and an after.

Going to school on Halloween always seemed wrong somehow. We fidgeted and clock watched the whole day. I doubt we learned anything as our minds and imaginations were filled with costumes and candy. Arithmetic had no chance.

I remember the afternoon lasted nearly forever, not as long as Christmas Eve but a close second. We’d eat dinner then pester my mother to let us leave. She always said it was too early. We kept watch at the window hoping to see a treat or treater so we could prove my mother wrong. Finally we’d get to leave.

First we did the neighborhood then the side streets near the house. I have memories of leaves blowing, street lights shining on the sidewalks, walking all over town and eating as we walked. When house lights finally started going out and few trick or treaters were still around, we’d head home stopping now and then at a lit house.

Once home, we’d empty our bags into big bowls and do a bit of trading. We’d throw away the popcorn balls. My mother took the apples. They’d get eaten at another time. We’d eat a few more bars of candy then the bowls had to be put away. Though the evening was officially over, the candy lasted for days.

“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen, Voices whisper in the trees, ‘Tonight is Halloween!'”

October 31, 2014

I never understood how there could be school on Halloween. Did the powers that be actually think we could concentrate on arithmetic or geography? Our minds were filled with thoughts of trick or treating not multiplication or the exports of Chile. Time seemed to stretch forever that day. I’d look at the clock and when next I’d look only a few minutes would have passed since the last time. I gave thought to a trick of the clock, even a haunting, but it was just me clock watching and agonizing over the slowness of the hands moving from one number to another. Recess was all about Halloween. We’d be standing in groups talking about the night to come and the costumes we’d wear. The bell would summon us back, and somehow we’d survive the last part of the day without standing on our desks and screaming out of impatience and frustration. We always ran home.

The afternoon seemed the longest part of the day because we were so close. I’d put on and take off my costume like sort of a dress rehearsal. My mother made us eat dinner. We’d beg to go out trick or treating, but my mother said it was too early, not even dark yet. We’d stare out the picture window begging for darkness or hoping to see the first trick or treater so we could be next. Finally my mother gave in and off we went.

We’d do the neighborhood first, up the hill and around the cul-de-sac. That took the most time. Neighbors were chatty. Finally we’d break free and head down the big hill out of the neighborhood. We didn’t follow the same route every year, but we hit some of the same houses, the nickel bar houses and the houses which gave us pennies. We’d avoid the apple houses.

I remember walking on the sidewalks filled with the shadows of trees from the street lights. I remember leaves covering everything and a few falling as we walked. Houses had their outside lights on as a welcome to trick or treaters. We’d walk all over town filling our pillowcases. When the lights started to go out, we headed for home munching as we walked. The walk home was always quiet.

At home, my mother would give each of us a bowl for our candy. I remember the bowls were white and had tulips on them. We’d empty out our candy then we’d trade. We’d eat as much as we could get away with. I remember every Halloween as being glorious.

“But I love Halloween, and I love that feeling: the cold air, the spooky dangers lurking around the corner.”

October 31, 2013

It happened: my Red Sox won the World Series last night in splendid fashion. They led the whole game. I, however, still had clenched teeth until that last out at the top of the ninth. I was so excited I stayed up until after two and watched all the festivities. How could I not? It was spectacular.

The morning was sunny, lovely and warm but since then the sun has been replaced by clouds, and the day is getting darker. I don’t mind. Halloween should be dark and even a bit scary.

I can remember the Halloween excitement from the moment I woke up and remembered what day it was. Having to sit in school for so long was pure torture. At lunch and recess all we talked about was what we were going as. It was never what we were wearing. It was always what we were going as. We were, for one night, witches or ghosts or pirates. I can remember hounding my mother to let us start trick or treating as soon as it got dark. She always said it was too early. We’d look out the picture window hoping to see a trick or treater, a sign it was finally time. Some years my brother and I would go together. We were adventurous spirits who would roam all over town. I can still see in my mind’s eye the sidewalk covered with yellow leaves and here and there bright circles of light from the street lamps. The houses always had their porch lights on as invitations for us to stop. Those were the days of small trick or treat bags filled with individual candies. The lady, never a man, would come to the door, open it a bit and give us a bag from the pile on the table beside the door. If it was a neighbor, she’d try to guess who we were. It was never really very difficult, but the best neighbors always pretended it was. We’d finish the neighborhood then branch out to streets around where we lived then we’d even go further afield. I remember a house where we once got an apple, never a favorite treat, but it had a nickel pushed into the skin as the real surprise. Sometimes the candy bags had a penny or two, and back then pennies still had great value. As the night wore on, we’d see fewer and fewer trick or treaters and fewer lit houses. We knew then it was time to head home.

The haul was always important, but the best part of Halloween was being out at night when the shadows of bare branches looked like hands reaching out to grab us and when we’d hear footsteps behind us and be a little afraid to look. We sometimes scared each other, and I remember laughing while my heart raced just a bit from the fright.

We always walked home slowly making the night last as long as we could.

“Where there is no imagination there is no horror.”

October 30, 2010

The cold is back. The days are autumn cool, but the nights are downright chilly, blanket on the bed chilly. Yesterday was so windy yellow oak leaves now dot the deck and the lawn is hidden under pine needles. Some trees along the roads are down to bare branches. They look desolate. They look like winter.

Once in a while a memory from Ghana pops into my head. Today I remembered the Chinese restaurant, the only one in the city back then. It was a long way from the center of town. Taxi rides used to cost only 20 pesewas no matter where in the city of Accra you wanted to go, but the Chinese restaurant was a cedi away, a whole 100 pesewas. It doesn’t sound like much money but for us it was.

The restaurant seating was mostly outside. The tables had real tablecloths, and the Ghanaian waiters wore short black jackets over white shirts which made the restaurant seem fancier than it was. The Chinese food was different but it was delicious. For some reason I remember a lot of peas and fried rice.

We never celebrated Halloween in Ghana. The volunteers in my region were spread thinly, and we didn’t get together much as the travel time was too long, and we were teaching. My only acknowledgments of the holiday were some Halloween cards my mother had sent. They were on display on my bookcase. My students, who would often visit in the evening, checked them out and wanted to know what Halloween was. I tried to describe it. They were most impressed with the trick or treat and candy part.

On Halloween there was a knock at my door. Three of my students were there and they yelled, “Trick or treat,” when I opened the door. Luckily I had peppermint candies which I offered. Each of my students took one, said, “Thank you, madam,” then left. Halloween was over.