Ghosts of Halloween Past

I miss Halloween. I miss the parade of characters my children chose to inhabit each year: Buzz and Woody, Batman and Robin, Red and Blue Power Rangers. Nostalgia washes over me when I see their sweet candy supplicant faces in photographs from years when the costumes half made them believe they were whom they were dressed up as. I miss making them wear long underwear beneath their outfits to protect them from the cold, holding their hands to protect them from cars, and shining flashlights to protect them from the dark.

When they were very young, we’d walk right up to the doorsteps with them, providing encouragement and etiquette reminders:

“Go ahead, honey, just ring the doorbell!”

They’d look back at us, half hidden in the shrubbery, askance.

“Go ahead! Say ‘trick or treat,’ take one piece of candy, and then say ‘thank you’.”

Back home, we’d spill the loot out right on the kitchen floor. I made them wash their hands, over their protestations, before they dug in. They would sort the candy and do some trading, and then indulge in a few pieces before I put my foot down and declared, “Bedtime!” They’d reluctantly pile everything back into bright orange, black-handled plastic Jack-o-Lanterns. After I tucked them in, I tucked into the candy, making sure eat only as much as they were unlikely to miss. I favored Mr. Goodbars and peanut M&Ms.

When they got to that awkward age when they were too old for parents to tag along but too young to safely go on their own, we’d station ourselves out of their sight but keep them in ours, more chauffeurs than chaperones.

When finally they roamed the streets with just their friends, the real treat was the independence, not the candy. We’d admonish them on their way out: “No mischief, no drinking, be polite, and watch out for cars.” We could only see their surly eye rolling if their costume didn’t involve a mask. They nodded dismissively as they tried to leave.

“Wait, wait, let me get one more picture!” I’d plead.

“Mom…” but they would oblige, and I and all the other mothers in town would post the photos and share admiration for our adorable offspring, much to their dismay.

The street we lived on never got much foot traffic, and the apartment where I live now gets none. I don’t buy candy because I would be sitting in a sugar-induced stupor with chocolate covering my face by 10 p.m. if I did.

This year Halloween fell on a Monday evening – the night I teach yoga at the CT Challenge Center for Survivorship. I considered dressing up in full costume, but my Elizabethan wench gown just didn’t seem conducive to downward facing dog pose. I settled for head to toe black (I know, pretty unexpected for a yoga teacher) with some “spooky” touches: silver threads woven into my leg warmers, an armful of skeleton bracelets, and a fuchsia and black, silver-accented feather boa. OK, I probably looked more like Liza Minnelli than Halloween Yoga Instructor, but I meant well. I brought in orange crème sandwich cookies and ghost-shaped baked potato crisps and offered them up in a fuchsia plastic Jack-o-Lantern with a handle that pulsated with disco-style lights.

My children would have been horrified. But they were thankfully shielded from the spectacle by many hundreds of miles. I got in the spirit (pun intended) and amused myself and entertained my class with something besides asana.

I miss Halloween – the way it was. But I can create my own, new version of the holiday. So next year, don’t be surprised if I knock on your door in full Elizabethan garb looking for a treat!


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