beggars, brothers, candy, cats, costumes, Halloween, Holidays, memories, mom, sisters, Trick o' Treat, weather
I have moved my operation, i.e., the laptop, to my upstairs desk which is lit by one of those Keep-the-Blues-Away lamps. I didn’t want this week’s blog to sink into the morass of the one a couple of weeks ago which, unbeknownst to me, concerned my therapist enough for him to ask me about it yesterday. I think he worried I was still wallowing around in a depressive blahness a week or so later and was likely to stay there for the entire winter! No, I certainly don’t want to start harping on this crappy, gray, Oh-Canada weather that’s hovering over this city today. The only thing that’s good about this weather is that it’s terrific to just slink back down under the covers and go back to sleep. And that is exactly what I would have done this morning except for the fact that Rose was already awake and staring at me from her perch on the pillows over my head. It’s hard to ignore a hungry cat, let alone two.
But it is a pity that the gods of all things good and spooky, didn’t consult with Harry Potter or Aladdin and twirl around a few magic wands to bring a dry, not-too-warm, moon-lit night for Halloween. It’s not really fair. Most kids wait for the entire year for this one special night to get candy for free! It’s fabulous. But when it’s weather like today, they’ll have to persuade reluctant parents to please, please, please take them out. And, if they do go, their night-of-collecting will be curtailed by an inopportune rainstorm or concern about colds and sniffles.
That never happened when I was a kid — or maybe it did but I lost those memories. My mother was a fanatic about Halloween. It seems to me that it didn’t matter whether it was raining, snowing or sleeting, we went out! When we got home from school, she’s be putting together costumes from this and that for each one of us who still were young enough to go out on Beggars’ Night as we called it because that’s what she called it when she was a kid. We’d have none of this Trick o’ Treat business no, our spiel was “Tonight is Beggars’ Night and We Have Come to Beg a Bite!” which didn’t carry that hidden threat of “Give me candy or else!” My favorite costume was to be a hobo. I’d wear an old shirt of my dad’s, a pair of pants with a rope for a belt and then, the best part, my mother would smear cold cream on my face and then singe a cork and put smudges here and there for dirt. I still sometimes burn a cork just to get that smell again which takes me right back to those days.
When it was DARK, really, really, eerily, scarily dark — How can you get those spine tingling thrills of being scared on Halloween if it’s not dark? — she’d give each of us a big, brown A&P grocery bag and a list of Rules: Watch the Streets! Don’t Talk to Strangers! Only Go To Houses Where You Know People! (That last one got stretched just a little to include the houses on either side and across the street and around the corner from the ones we knew. The temptation of more candy was worth the venial sin of disobedience.) Be Home by 8:00 pm! (I don’t know how we were supposed to know what time it was since none of us had watches, for heaven’s sake.) I don’t remember if my older brothers were supposed to stay with us little girls, but they didn’t. They would go places that were far beyond our little legs — and even go home and go back out again! The one thing we all knew — the boys and the girls — was that we had to chew all the bubble gum before we got home where my mother would confiscate it in the name of fewer cavities. Such fun it all was!
Now, every Halloween, my friend/neighbor/landlord and I perch ourselves on the front porch and “receive” the goblins and princesses and Harry Potters and Baby Bumblebees and Grim Reapers and Super Heroes and whoever else wanders up our stairs. It sure beats going up-and-down our 18 stairs 50 times in the night. We have, over the years, developed a perfect division of costs and labour for the evening: he buys the candy and carves the pumpkin; I bring a bottle of wine and nibbles for us to imbibe in while we’re sitting out there. It’s all perfect — well, except for the weather tonight!