A friend and I were reminiscing yesterday about Halloween in the “good old days,” a time when everyone dressed up as a ghost (old sheet with holes cut out for eyes); a princess, fairy, or queen (crown, magic wand, robe made from a towel, its two ends clipped under the chin and the rest hanging below the back of the head, accessorized by high heels from mom’s closet); Dracula (black cape, wax fangs from the drugstore, and scarlet lipstick for blood); a witch (gnarled rubber nose and pointed black hat); or a pirate (eye patch, crude wooden sword painted silver, red bandanna, and mustache drawn in with mom’s eyebrow pencil). Superman was about our only comic book hero. There must have been other costume choices, but Darth Vader, Freddie Krueger, and Harry Potter hadn’t been created.
Then, as now, a lot of mothers stitched, painted and glued to get their children costumed for the big night. No one would ever make the mistake of believing our outfits were store-bought. Looking at contemporary costume websites I find that, thanks to Johnny Depp, pirates are back in vogue, and even though we won’t see Superman tonight, we can expect to see a lot of other superheroes lurking on our front porches (or gory beings, as a friend from Indiana just predicted). Despite our yearnings for Halloweens past, it seems that trick-or-treating hasn’t changed all that much since I was a child.
During our reminiscences, I realized that at some point in my trick-or-treating career teachers pressured us to replace “Trick or Treat” with “Happy Halloween.” I hated this idea. I stuck to the old greeting because I was in it for the treats. (I don’t think that’s changed over the years.) I knew my neighbors and hoped they hadn’t gotten the message from our teachers.
I last wore a Halloween costume when I started work as Employee Wellness Coordinator twenty some years ago. I sewed a frog outfit that covered not just my body but also my feet and head. I worked hard on this project, because I was new on the job and wanted colleagues to understand that play and humor were part of wellness. I won first prize. Since that time I’ve felt indifferent toward Halloween. Maybe it’s time for a new costume.