Friday, October 16, 2009

Feeling Better Friday

Today is the first day in a long time that I have felt like "myself." I am thrilled to see my Halloween decorations twinkling from the mantle, well actually, ALL of the mantles. I like Halloween, just a little. Every bush in my yard is covered in lights and I have a 6' silhouette of a witch (a craft from Martha Stewart Living, God help me!) which stands menacingly in front of a yellow spot light and fog machine. I was thrilled this year to find lime green lights for the yard and another bag o' bones for the "graveyard" ( I chose not to use the real bones this year as we have a new neighbor who works for homicide. Don't need THAT headache!). I don't know why I love Halloween so. I think it might have to do with my mom.

You see, I spent those younger magical years in West Palm Beach, Florida where there is no change of seasons. I had to envision fall leaves, crisp air, the smell of fires burning. My mother, who was born up north, would hang paper fall leaves from the chandelier, carve pumpkins, and put orange on anything that would stand still. I can still remember the smell of the decoration box- a mix of moth balls, candles from the year before, and laundry detergent (it was stored in the linen closet). She made our costumes often out of crepe paper, (HA! Martha Stewart didn't figure this out for years!) and we would trick-or-treat for blocks and blocks and blocks.

Everyone gave out candy except that one house. This house was the only two-story wooden house in the entire neighborhood and decidedly older than any of it's cinder block siblings. I remember that asian people lived there and would either not answer the door (if one was brave enough to ring the doorbell) or open the door and shoo us away in a foreign language. All of my friends were frightened of the house. It was THAT house, like the one in all of the scary movies. I wasn't afraid of the house or the people inside of it. It was difficult to understand why anyone would ignore such a fabulous holiday. I felt sorry for them. They were missing out.

After filling our plastic jack-o-lanterns to the top (I remember stuffing candy into my pockets due to overflow), we would trot home for the candy inspection and homemade pizza. They were glorious nights. We would open the front door and smell homemade pizza sauce and bubbling cheese (Thank God I was born Italian!). If we had been lucky, the humidity would have allowed mom to make sticky candy apples. After a few south Florida Octobers though, I think she gave up on the candy making.

Slopping down a couple of slices of pizza, we kids would plunk down on the floor in front of the TV and trade candy better than Wall Street could trade stock. It was often just as brutal. My favorite candy was put out by Brach's. It was tiny cellophane packages of orange and black red hots. Does anyone remember these? I found this vintage Brach's advertisement for Halloween candy. Those little suckers are right down there in the middle of the ad just next to the candy pumpkins. Can you see them? I LOVED them. I gladly traded chocolate for them... I miss them...

And people were so generous back then. None of this "Just take one piece!" As a matter of fact, I don't remember being allowed to take candy. Most would people would drop three or four pieces of candy into our pumpkins. The best was when a house would make up those little gift bags of candy.
And no one put a basket outside their door and expected kids to help themselves in a honest fashion. Those lonely bowls of candy make me sad for my kids. They are an indication of how adults lose the magic of childhood.

I dreaded the passing of Halloween almost as much as I anticipated it's coming. I remember thinking, while watching what was left of a scary movie on TV, make up melted from running around in the floridian heat, that soon Halloween would be over... Feeling the weight of having to wait another 365 days for it to come again... Hoping that next year wasn't a leap year.

10 comments:

Victoria said...

Wonderful post! I am like this with Christmas--have over a dozen large Rubbermaid bins filled with decorating stuff out in our storage unit.

I have fond memories of dressing up and trick-or-treating for Halloween as a child (including one year when I was an angel with homemade be-glittered card-board wings and the group of kids I was going around with complained of me constantly smacking them--inadvertently of course, with my wings whenever I turned around). But then the church my parents went to decided that Halloween was 'of the Devil' and that ended that--except for a couple "Hallelujah Parties" they threw as an alternative to us all sitting morosely at home handing out candy to other kids....

This may well be why I am getting back into Halloween and dressing up as an adult! ;-)

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

You have inspired me to get some decorations out today--I used to do up Halloween pretty big, but as the kids got older and I got busier . . .

Stacie said...

Victoria- I could NEVER have handled my parents telling me that I couldn't trick-or-treat anymore. It would have been the end. i love the cardboard wings...Perhaps Lucy needs cardboard wings...hmmm.

Jenn- Get those decorations out and watch some old horror movies... Too much fun!

Sarena Shasteen said...

Great post! I have found that Halloween has taken a different turn. It is not nearly as magical as it was when we were kids. Nobody goes trick or treating like they used to. I just don't get it. My kids are a little saddened by the lack of people that get into it. We always made our costumes too! None of that stuff from the store. My kids do the same thing now. I try to make it the best that I can with them...they deserve that experience too. Maybe if we all keep it up, we will bring up a generation that will carry on our traditions!

Stacie said...

Sarena- It can be really depressing! We HAVE to make it tradition like my mom did or we'll lose it.

Oh My Goddess said...

Ah the Great Pumpkin is here too! My memories are of wax lips and candy cigarettes.
There was a house like that in our old neighborhood, and we all called it Boo Radley's house.

Madge said...

i am a total loser for:

1. not keeping up with your blog

2. not decorating my house in any way for halloween

3. i'm sure you can come up with #3

Stacie said...

Goddess- I totally forgot about the wax lips and candy cigarettes!! Do you remember the gum cigarettes that had paper around them and when you puffed on them powdered sugar would come out like smoke?

Madge- I think two reasons is enough. and I won't think of a third if you make time for a GNO... (well, I'll think of it but I won't tell you what it is).

Louise said...

Beautiful memories! Halloween is sort of my favorite holiday, except I'm too busy to decorate. Makes me disgusted. And your countdown thingy just scared me to DEATH because I have to make the candy gift bags AND the costumes in just more than 8 days. EEEEEEEEEEEK!

Stacie said...

Louise, I haven't even thought about those bags yet and the cupcakes and the brunswick stew and pork loin i am making. UgggHHH!