Black cats and goblins and broomsticks and ghosts,
Covens of witches with all of their hosts.
You may think they scare me, you’re probably right,
Black cats and goblins on Halloween night!
Trick or Treat!
I would just like to preface this post by something that just happened to me. It is 3:33 AM on Halloween morning as I write this. My dogs were racing around, begging to go out, so I let them out into the perfect autumn night, with leaves blowing around my feet. As I stood in the street, watching the dogs run in the yard, I heard something crunch about fifty feet away from me. Being that it was pitch black and I had left my glasses next to the computer, I couldn’t see anything, but the dogs immediately starting barking at something walking on the leaves on the dark street. As a veteran survivor of every horror movie known to man, I ran inside with the dogs close at my heels. We’re nobody’s fool; we know danger when we see it.
Now that my nerves are settled, behind double bolted locked doors and drawn drapes, I can get on with my post.
If you’re a lover of horror movies, as I obviously am, you know that the poem above is what the kids are chanting in the background at the beginning of the the original Halloween movie, which is by far, my favorite horror movie of all time. I haven’t written on here in the last few weeks because I’ve been focusing most of my attention on my next novel, but I wanted to write something about Halloween, which has always been my favorite holiday. I thought maybe the best way to talk about Halloween would be to relive some of my favorite memories.
As a young child, I can remember going to the haunted house at The Children’s Museum with the lights on because I was too afraid to go through it in the dark. (For the record, I still don’t go through haunted houses and I’m sure I’d die right on the spot from a heart attack if I did.)
When I was growing up, Halloween was always a big holiday at our house. I was fortunate enough to grow up on a street with a bunch of kids, ranging in ages from elementary school to high school, typically with me falling in the middle. For several years all of the kids in the neighborhood got together and created these elaborate haunted houses in my garage. On Halloween night, while my mom hosted a chili dinner for her friends inside, we’d take turns trick or treating and manning the haunted house. Later on those nights, I would stand in the doorway to the garage with the lights on, still terrified to walk through the maze of crepe paper and hanging spiders, out of fear that something might be hiding in the shadows.
When I was in college, Halloweens were spent in bars, with fake ID’s and costumes that required that I look “cute”. Krissa, my roommate at the time, always refused to wear any costume and usually wore a white tank top and black biker jacket, stating that she was a “biker chick”. If you knew Krissa, this was less of a costume and more of her every day attire. We would go out to the bars, get slammed drunk and come home with drinks slipped carefully inside the pockets of her jacket for the ride home, the epitome of the good alcoholic. Years later, I found that biker jacket with a pack of cigarettes and someone’s number written on a napkin on one of those inside pockets. My mom wore the jacket for a few years and now it’s been lost, probably into “biker chick” heaven.
Years later, my mom hosted annual “Come As You Aren’t” Halloween parties, and I would attend with my friends before we out to Halloween parties or bars. Nobody, except my friend Craig, would ever dress up and his costumes were always extremely elaborate. One year he went as a wind blown man with pieces of trash stuck to a suit and something rigged up with a hanger. I don’t remember the specifics of the costume but I do remember that it required us to sit in one corner of the bar and not move because the costume might fall apart. For that particular Halloween, that meant no meeting cute boys for Craig or Peter, of which I’m sure I was not happy.
Later, my cousin Caroline took over the rank of the family Halloween parties, inviting friends and neighbors as well. Chili has always been a staple at all of the parties through the years and something I will forever equate as a Halloween food. I still love the idea of getting together with people on Halloween whether I dress up or not.
This year we’re going to my cousin’s house and then we’re going to a friend’s house to watch scary movies; the perfect Halloween. I think one year I’d like to go to Vegas or New Orleans for Halloween and wear a really cool costume, but I can’t imagine a Halloween not spent in the Midwest autumn with hot chili and fear in the wind.
Usually I prep for Halloween by watching all of my favorite movies and shows; Children of the Corn, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Fat Albert’s Halloween, all of the Halloween movies and of course, the Roseanne Halloween episodes. I think there is something about the perfect mix of fear and humor that makes Halloween so wonderful.
I always miss my mom on Halloween. For me, she was the Queen of Halloween, putting little spiders everywhere and making special treats, like “finger food” cookies and “eyeball punch”. She didn’t like horror movies, but she definitely loved autumn and everything that came with Halloween. She made the best chili and raw apple muffins and knew how to make little details in life important. She appreciated a good scare but would always accuse me of trying to literally scare her to death.
What I remember most as a child, is that after my costume was taken off and my tricks or treats candy was counted and piled back into the bag, my mom would tuck me into bed and read me one of her favorite poems, whispering the words slowly, as the leaves from the trees flew against my open window. To this day, it still scares the hell of out me. So for this Halloween, I dedicate this reading to my mom…
Little Orphant Annie
by James Whitcomb Riley
Little Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay,
An’ wash the cups an’ saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,
An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’
An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-
An’ all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun,
A-listenin’ to the witch-tales ‘at Annie tells about,
An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you
Much love and Happy Haunting!