Halloween Memories


Today in class we were writing memoir pieces about Halloween.  I started with reading two chapters of Knucklehead, the memoir of Jon Scieszka author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales and then we started writing our own memories of Halloween. Like the crazy lady who lived down the block from us in Belfry, Montana who was a witch because she ate shoe polish and could take out her teeth. True story. Really. I was three. I would know.

Here is what I wrote this afternoon as my class worked:

Halloween in Chicago has usually been warm. With the exception of the year that it rained so hard we discovered that the siding on the north side of the house had failed, it has been shirt sleeve weather.  My children have not had to worry about wearing their heavy coat over their costume. Haven’t needed a coat in 10 years. In fact, when they were little I made their costumes out of polar fleece, but we haven’t needed to worry in so long.

When trick-or-treating in South Dakota,  the possibility for snow was always extremely high.  You wanted to design a costume that let you wear a coat under it or had a coat integrated into it. I learned about this the hard way the year I had THE CUTEST nurse’s costume.  Little white cap and cape with the lovingly appliquéd red cross on the cap and upper left hand side of the cape. I was going to carry my very favorite doll, Black Hair, ironically named as she had NO hair.

Too bad so sad – it was snowing out. That meant boots and a coat that did NOT fit under the cape. So, the cape was on under the coat, and no one saw my adorableness.

The next year we went as ghosts.  Old fashioned bed sheet ghosts. Matt was pretty small, so he was actually a pillowcase ghost.  We had our coats on under the sheets – we were warm and toasty and there was no loss of costume integrity.  It was even a bonus because Mrs. Cole, a woman in the neighborhood who had a huge house with a seriously fenced in yard took one look at us and stopped her reach toward her mini-sized candy.

“Look at you three. I love these ghosts.  This is what a ghost is supposed to look like, not those plastic mask ghosts.  Wait here.”

We had no idea what we were waiting for.  She disappeared and returned with full sized Hershey Bars for the three of us. Major score! No Bit-o-Honey!

We will be hosting the 13th annual Halloween Potluck on Saturday with the Halloween party for the cast of the circus adaption of Tim Burton’s film, Nightmare Before Christmas – called Nightmare – after the potluck.  My daughter’s circus ensemble is doing a workshop performance – Oogie Boogie does an amazing lyra routine, and the final aerial is a double silks routine with Jack and Sally.

When the official trick-or-trick hours are over, everyone comes to our house. We share food, beverages, and just catch up.  The rule is, once you are invited to the potluck, you never have to be invited again. You are invited in perpetuity.  The menu never varies: chili (beef, but also the best vegan chili ever) and amendments should you want spice or dairy, cornbread, salad, and whatever shows up!  It may not be the great candy grab of 1965, but it is fun.

Photo by flickr member euart

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