Friday Five: Halloween

MaryBeth at RevGalBlogPals asks for five Halloween/All Saints Day memories. Since my family didn’t go to church much, mine are all Halloween:

I am one in a mob of kids unsupervised by adults but bound together by our parents’ edict: stay together! Big kids are expected to look after the littles and no one is to wander from the mob, or enter a home. We carry pillowcases which we expect to come close to filling. We are cautioned against eating any of our candy before the adults can inspect it; we all eat candy and I am still here to tell the tale. We are not driven door to door in minivans, because minivans do not exist. No parents accompany us and safe in the anonymity of costume and mob, I feel freer than I ever will again.

I am no more than eight or nine years old and this is my all-time favorite costume, cobbled together from my mother’s closet and jewelry box: a Gypsy, dressed in a peasant blouse and an old 1950’s circle-hemmed skirt safety-pinned around my waist. My long, blonde hair is hidden under a colorful scarf and mom and Auntie Helene have draped me in every strand of costume beads and bracelets they own (in my memory, a remarkable amount); I love the sound of all them moving together, something between a chorus of clicks and the rustling of Fall leaves. Mom has given me a “beauty mark” high on my cheek with  her eyebrow pencil and I affect a thick, Slavic accent, think Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle.

I remember hot, plastic masks shoved up on top of my head between houses in favor of drawing non-sweaty breaths, pulled down just in time to scream “Trick or Treat!”

I remember my mom and Auntie Helene dumping all my candy on to the worn surface of Auntie Helene’s kitchen table, at which they sit smoking cigarettes and diligently examining every last piece. They discard apples or home-made items, lest they be poisoned. In unison they “Um-hmmm” to my lie about not eating candy along the way, but my mother’s cocked left eyebrow lets me know her acceptance is donated.

And somehow, impossibly, it is 20 years later and I am a  young mother, walking with my neighbor, Annette, and our two daughters. I am not in costume, but Annette is dressed in her fireman husband’s “turn-outs” and pulling her not-yet-year-old daughter Tiffany in Charlotte’s red, Radio Flyer wagon. Tiffany is a Dalmatian puppy, and my Charlotte is Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. Tiffany, behind us in the wagon has ignored the ancestral edict against eating candy along the way and unnoticed by us, is sucking Reese’s peanut butter cups right through the wrappers. Her hands and face are literally covered in melted chocolate, all her Dalmatian spots and eyebrow-pencil whiskers absorbed right along with it. Annette and I are horrified, but Charlotte/Tigger, having chafed under our watchful eyes, laughs and laughs and laughs, and asks if she can finally have some, too.

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