When I was a kid, selecting a costume was thrilling. I spent months planning my attire. I enjoyed cobbling together my look which was usually pulled together with a combination of clothing and accessories from my closet and that of my parents. There was also an occasional plastic store-bought item to complete the outfit, like a badge or a pipe.
Eli, age 9: "ahoy, maties!"
I had to explain my costume to some folks: “a pirate died and came back as a ghost!” This was years before the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, so haunted seafarers weren’t as well-known as they are now. Some of my other childhood costumes included a cowboy, a clown, a Charlie Chaplin inspired guy, a gangster, a soldier, and Casper the Friendly Ghost.
The older I become the less time and effort I wanted to put into my getup. I loved painting my face when I was younger, but my enthusiasm dropped off once I was a teen. The pirate ghost required some work, but not so much with the soldier. With that one, I donned a used army jacket and pants I bought at the local Army/Navy surplus store, and I borrowed my grandfather's black beret. It was an easy three-piece ensemble.
My costume philosophy since then has been: keep it simple and low-maintenance.
I loved trick-or-treating. What a great concept: going door-to-door for a few hours once a year and strangers give you sweets. The anticipation of seeing what was inside the bowl in a homeowner’s hands when they greeted us was thrilling. My favorite confection, by the way, has long been anything with chocolate and peanuts or peanut butter – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Clark Bars, Peanut M&M's, Mr. Goodbar, etc.
"Trick or Treat!"
Two bigger kids can cover a lot of ground in 120 minutes, and we scurried from one dwelling to another. We rang the doorbell, grabbed the goods, said a quick “thank you,” and then it was on to the next one. I used a pillowcase to collect sweets, and it was pretty heavy by the end of the evening.
After we called it a holiday, I spilled my loot on my parent’s kitchen table and there was a mountain of items. What satisfaction! There seemed to be every type of candy, as well as various odds and ends like pennies, a toothbrush, campaign literature, and McDonald’s gift certificates. When I was a kid, Mickey D’s was even better than chocolate/peanut items. I enjoyed going there in the days after Halloween and getting a cheeseburger, fries, or a sundae.
My treat philosophy: chocolate is great, but fast food is better.
My favorite decoration is the
jack-o'-lantern. And that’s another interesting Halloween tradition: carve a face on a vegetable, stick a candle inside it, and put it on your porch to frighten others. But it works! Jack-o-lanterns never fail to creep me out. There’s just something about mischievous eyes and a crooked smile illuminated by a soft glow that gets to me. I used to enjoy carving pumpkins when I was a kid. Most do, I imagine. It seems like it would appeal to young people because they like to get messy – children also fingerpaint, take mud baths, stir Kool-Aid with their hands, etc.
"Almost there... just a little more muscle!"
My jack-o-lantern philosophy: leave it to the professionals with power tools.