I don’t have fond childhood memories of Halloween.
After my mother found Jesus, she made me to dress up as Mary Magdalene for my second grade class party in the hopes I would witness to all the other little children dressed up as princesses, witches, baseball players, and superheros. But rather than demanding my classmates cast the devil from their lives, I told my friends I was dressed up as a princess. I didn’t look anything like a princess, but I don’t think my classmates cared enough to challenge me — readily available candy took up most of their attention. One of the homeroom mothers who came in to assist with the party complimented me on my costume. She told me it was “very creative,” and then turned to the teacher and said “not every mommy is good with a sewing machine.” They both laughed, and I laughed too, but only because they did.
I got off the school bus that afternoon with an orange plastic spider ring, a tiny bag of waxy candy corn, a jack-o’-lantern pencil topper, and a Tootsie pop covered with a coffee filter and googly eyes that was supposed to look like a ghost. That was too much for my mother — she vowed never again to allow the public school to indoctrinate me with their devil worship. From that point forward, she pulled me out of school on Halloween “for religious reasons.”
That evening, on Halloween night, we kept our lights on to let the neighborhood kids know they could trick-or-treat at our house, only instead of candy, my mother cheerfully handed out religious tracts designed to look like one hundred dollar bills. Thankfully, that was during the span of years when it was popular to give out little coupons for free McDonald’s french fries, so I suspect most of the kids assumed that’s what they were getting.
The next morning, we discovered our house had been egged, though not in any meaningful way. There was one lone egg cracked on the concrete landing outside our front door — it looked like someone had dropped it there instead of throwing it. Perhaps a disgruntled kid wasn’t quite disgruntled enough or maybe he just lost his nerve. Despite the mild nature of the prank (understandable in light of the religious tracts), my mother asserted that it was, obviously, evidence of an attack from the devil.
The next year, and every year after, I had to spend Halloween night at Chuck E. Cheeses with the flat headed religious kids. They were the weird kids from the most conservative families in the most conservative churches in town.
Lots of them were home schooled because their mothers were even more afraid of satanic curriculum in public schools than my mother. Almost all of them were strange – they seemed to enjoy the cardboard flavored pizza and bought in to the idea that being high on Jesus was way better than being high on sugar. I wasn’t convinced, but I spent my tokens playing Skee-Ball and tried my best to be polite.
Now that I’m an adult, Halloween is my favorite holiday.
There are no meals to plan, no family to visit, no gifts to buy, and no annoying holiday music. Instead, adorable neighborhood kids come to my house dressed as adorable creatures and adorable characters… and I give them candy.
There’s no real point to the holiday other than that — seeing happy, adorable kids and giving them sweets… and I absolutely love it. :)
I spent my evening doling out chocolate to unidentifiable princesses, superheros I no longer recognize, and an assortment of ball players, zombies, and monsters.
This year, I made it my personal mission to make up for the humorless dentist a few doors down who hands out toothbrushes instead of candy every year. Each kid who came to my door with a toothbrush got a few extra pieces of the stickiest, most sugary stuff I had in my big plastic pumpkin bowl.
My candy bowl is now empty, but my heart is full.
Happy Halloween. :)