I was a kid once, and I loved Holidays.  I still love Holidays, just in a different, somewhat more stressful way.  Halloween, to me, was always the kick off of the Holiday Season.  Thanksgiving and Christmas still seem eons away, even though I know they’ll sneak up on me like they do every year, and I’ll be left scratching my head, asking what the hell happened?  But things have changed since I was kid, for better or for worse, I’m not sure.  I believe this is a tale all adults have told throughout their grownup lives, and it starts something like this, “When I was a kid…”

Well, when I was kid, Halloween was, um, different.  Sure, we had costumes and candy, parties and haunted houses, but it was different.  First of all, you usually plucked your costume out of some poor unsuspecting family member’s closet.  My brother’s was a personal favorite, and I believe I wore his flag football uniform for many uninterrupted Halloween’s.  Mom and Dad didn’t go rushing off to the nearest store to buy a costume.  That was like cheating.  You either made something from whatever might be lying around the house or you “borrowed” a few things from your brother.  One year, I wanted to be a vampire, and the only way I could slick down my hair into a full Bela Lugosi was to use vaseline!  Yup, vaseline.  I couldn’t wash that stuff out of my hair for the next week, but it was a small price to pay.  Secondly, I don’t recall there being any “set” hours for trick-or-treating.  The minute the school bell rang, it was game on!  You could either give up the candy or pretend not to be home and risk getting egged.  Ok, I never egged anyone, but it was an idle threat I carried around with me, just in case.  We trick-or-treated all the way home from school, stopped in for a quick bite of chili or soup and out again into the candy fueled night.  We used pillow cases, not screen printed Halloween bags or pumpkin buckets, for optimal carrying efficiency and fewer stops to unload.  We were out all night, until 10:00 in most instances with no parental involvement and no one seemed to mind.  It was the way it was, but the night didn’t stop there.  Upon returning home began the big candy trade between siblings.  I recall doing quite well as my brother and I shared polarizing pallets, so I believe we were both happy, but there in the middle of the floor, lay the stuff no kid would ever touch – peanut butter candy wrapped in plain orange or black wrappers, circus peanut styrofoam candy, a sad little apple who knew he we was well out-of-place and perhaps a  pile of pennies.  Do you know that peanut butter candy is still around?  I’ve seen it in my daughter’s hauls from Halloween’s past.  I’m quite certain they’ve been circulating the same bag of candy since the mid-Seventies, but I just can’t prove it.

Halloween present seems to have far more fan fare.  If you read in one of my previous blogs, it’s the second biggest Holiday in dollars spent next only to Christmas.  The decorations have gotten better, bigger and brighter, and the costumes, I suppose to some extent, more original and lavish, and save for the remaining bag of peanut butter taffy still in circulation, the candy’s still pretty good and by far the best part of the Holiday, but something seems to be different.  Maybe we just don’t know our neighbors and communities like we used to, or maybe we’re all just a little paranoid, but gone are the days of our children running carelessly throughout the neighborhood with out at least a parent or older sibling in tow.  Is it a bad thing?  I don’t know.  It makes me long for a simpler, safer time, but then again I was just a kid then and could never imagine the potential dangers that awaited me.  Maybe that’s just it.  We were kids, and didn’t think about that stuff and God willing, we made it to adults.  Again, things are just different, for better or worse, I’m not sure, but I’ll let you decide.


“Eye of newt, and toe of frog                                                                                  

Wool of bat, and tongue of dog

Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting

Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble

Like hell-broth boil and bubble.”

– William Shakespeare

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney