Ask almost any American to tell you the origins of Halloween; they probably can’t. (But last year’s Halloween Blog post shares the origins and more!) Every American, however, can tell you what it was like to celebrate Halloween growing up.
After all, what kid wouldn’t love a day when you get to dress up however you want (with your parent’s ok), get lots of free candy, and maybe even a few small scares? There is simply a mysterious magic in the air as Halloween approaches. I want to share with you some memories of it from my childhood.
Many parents, including my own, did not want their sweet children looking evil, like death, or any of the other scary costumes that are traditional for Halloween. While some of my friends wore these types of costumes, many of us dressed up to be like our heroes or what we wanted to be when we grew up. I dreamed of being a school bus driver. All this costume required was getting a box that could fit around me, painting it yellow and cutting out windows. I was ready to roll in my driver’s hat and bus-in-a-box.
I remember marching with my classmates through other classrooms to show off our costumes. My school bus costume must have been great because I “drove” it in that parade two years in a row.
When I was seven, my favorite book character was a big, red dog named Clifford. Before my bus-driving days, I was Clifford for Halloween as evidenced in the photo. I thought it was pretty cool and creative then (and maybe still do today).
Trick-or-Treating: The Most Frightening Year
One year of trick-or-treating involved some really horrifying characters lurking in the shadows….
As my family went out into the night, we made our way to a house behind our own. We went to the front door yelling “Trick-or-Treat!!!” I happily received my candy. But as we turned to leave, I felt something watching me.
Suddenly, by my side was a tall figure in black. Eyes wide, face deathly white, blood dripping from razor fangs…Dracula. This image of Dracula came from a novel by Bram Stoker about a warrior who comes back from the dead and remains alive by drinking the blood of others. I was absolutely terrified of Dracula, so it was time to move on.
I kept checking to make sure Dracula wasn’t following me while moving quickly up the path to the next house. Distracted, I took a wrong step. There I was stunned to find myself face-to-face with a skeleton that I had triggered to pop out of a coffin. Not only did skeletons jump out at me that Halloween night, but faceless creatures on stilts tried to chase me. Even a scarecrow, which should remain still, being made only of straw, suddenly came to life with a nasty, startling laugh.
Halloween was, and is, a fun time to let one’s imagination run wild. But sometimes it leaves us imagining too many things are hiding around the corner ready to get us. After Halloween, I always enjoy the warmth and safety of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It makes me glad to have a community like Bridges where I can always feel safe.