Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Today is Halloween - a day that millions of kids of all ages look froward to. A day to dress up as someone or something else and go out and have a little fun and collect some candy.

Here in Manitoba, you never know what the weather is going to be like around Halloween, but there is at least a 50/50 chance that there will be snow falling or already on the ground. That means that if you are going door to door for trick or treating, that your costume will have to fit over your parka. That kind of limits a lot of costumes but you can also get more creative on some ideas for the bigger than life characters.

I don't remember most of my costumes as a kid, but I do remember two. One year I dressed as a black cat. I wore all black my mom made a tail to attach to my pants. I had a black sweater with a hood that we attached ears to and painted whiskers on my cheeks. Another year, I did pretty much the same costume, except that mom used old hangers that she reshaped into wings and covered with black fabric. I was a bat!

We would drive in to town after an early supper and go trick or treating along a few select streets such as where my grandparents or my aunt and uncle lived. There were a couple of streets in our town that EVERYBODY went to as they were considered to be the more wealthy residents and therefore gave out better treats.

Even back in the 60's and 70's, our parents still went through our bags after to make sure that none of the stuff had been tampered with. Mom always made applesauce with apples. We kids would sort through the various goodies we'd received and also take stuff to school the next day to trade for treats we really wanted. I don't know why, but I always liked the "Rockets" candies. Of course, I loved chocolate back then too, but nothing with caramel in it! If I could, I traded all gum, caramels, licorice and those little candies that were wrapped in white paper decorated with little orange pumpkins.

When I was a first year student in Bible school, several of us decided to dress up for the whole day. We went from breakfast through evening snack in our costumes. I dressed up as a little old lady. I had a dress that my grandma had made for the Manitoba centennial celebrations a few years older. It was a flour length dress that you wore a crinoline under and even used hook and eyes for all the closures up the back. I wore an old shawl, pulled my hair back in a bun with a head scarf and walked with a diamond willow cane that my dad had made a few years earlier. I also wore my glasses down on my nose, walked slowly and slightly hunched over! It was actually a lot of fun.

A few years later, one of my girlfriends and I decided to recreate our own version of the day. We spent a day baking and decorating Halloween cookies. On Halloween, we dressed up in full costumes, face paint and wigs and went out with her sister and her little girl to trick or treat. We also took packages of cookies with us to hand out at homes of our friends and family - if they could guess who we were! We stumped a couple of people, but it was a lot of fun.

One of the apartment blocks that I lived in, here in Winnipeg, had several socials every year - including a costume party for Halloween. I dressed up as a vampire. My mom had sown a long black cape that was lined in red satin and had a matching red cummerbund. I wore black pants, a white shirt, slicked back my hair and painted my face white with blood red lips and droplets of blood running down my chin! I think that was probably my all time favourite costume - it certainly got the most interesting reactions!

My parents and their friends had their own way of celebrating. One couple would dress up and drive to a neighbour/friends home early in the evening. Once invited in, they were offered "refreshments" and the host couple was then expected to dress up and travel with the first couple to another home. This continued late into the night and there were often eight or ten couples by the end of the night. At some point in the evening, they would all go to a local restaurant and a bar just for the reactions. They usually capped off the night at some unsuspecting friends home in the wee hours of the morning where the last host was expected to prepare breakfast for the revellers! I've seen pictures and heard a lot of storied from those parties. Some of the costumes were well thought out and ready for whenever the party arrived at their home and some were thrown together at the last minute. Either way, those evenings were anything but boring!

One story that I remember hearing was of a couple who had been out earlier and missed the first "call", so the party went back about 3 or 4 in the morning, let themselves in with the hidden spare key and started preparing breakfast. The couple, sleeping very soundly, upstairs woke to the smell of bacon, eggs, coffee, toast and about a dozen wildly dressed people around the kitchen table!!

So whether you are handing out goodies at your door, escorting little one around or having a little more adult party fun, please be safe - this is a night for good hearted fun!

Happy Halloween!!!


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