2008 Halloween Story Contest : Showcase : Halloween Hoopla
Halloween Creative Writing Story Showcase
By Stefanie Wass
"What do you think you want to be for Halloween?" It's only September, but I'm already thinking about my two daughters' costumes.
"Probably a princess," smiles my youngest. Remembering the multitude of tiaras and satin gowns in our playroom, I sigh in relief. Finally, an easy costume, not requiring me to sew, create, or spend money.
"I want to be Hannah Montana," smirks her older sister. That tween pop star with the glitzy clothes? I ponder this, wisely refraining from saying, "Why not something simple, like a witch or ghost?"
When I was in elementary school, I threw Mom's orange scarf around my head, painted my lips ruby red, and proclaimed myself a Halloween gypsy. Back then, October 31 meant trick-or-treating and carving a pumpkin. My friends wore plastic masks from the dime store Casper The Friendly Ghost was a favorite but costumes were never elaborate. Halloween was a singular night of fun where kids could run through the neighborhood, beg for candy, and perhaps collect a few coins for UNICEF.
How time marches on! Second only to Christmas in retail sales, Halloween now involves elaborate front-porch decorations, complete with scarecrows, ghosts flying from tree limbs, and spooky, spine-tingling music.
Both kids and adults wear costumes (I admit to answering the door one year in complete witch gear: long black gown, pointy hat, and black lipstick. My husband, wearing a red plastic clown nose and Groucho Marx glasses, was my comedic sidekick.) Supposedly, consumers spent over five billion last year in costumes, candy, and Halloween-related decorations A bit over the top? Perhaps, but I admit to being swept away in Halloween's allure. It feels good to celebrate autumn and act a bit zany.
Soon, it will be time to dig out the decorations dried corn and pumpkin scented candles for the mantel, and a doll-sized witch for the bathroom counter. My daughters will cuddle their stuffed animals, a spider and black cat that magically reappear each year after hibernating in the basement storage bin. I will dust off the orange and black doormat, then deliberate on the perfect placement of bright yellow and burgundy mums on the front porch.
"Can we make pumpkin seeds this year?" Without fail, my girls always yearn for baked pumpkin seeds, an easy treat made with dry seeds, salt, and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Pumpkin carving night is huge at our house the girls draw triangle noses and gap-tooth grins with a pencil, and my husband wields the knife. "Gross! Look at all the goo!" the girls say, digging in with large spoons and sticky fingers. Pulpy orange seeds fly through the air, creating a delightfully sticky mess. I rinse and pat the seeds, then bake. Fifteen minutes later, we enjoy a crunchy, salty snack under the glowing eyes of our new Jack O'Lantern friends.
Pumpkins and decorations complete, it's time to paint, parade, and party! In our Ohio town, that means painting scenes of goblins, bats, and "The Great Pumpkin" on Main Street's storefront windows. School children decorate the store windows each year, adding to the festive spirit of the season. At school parade time, Disney Princesses and Power Rangers line the elementary school sidewalks, waving at throngs of admiring parents. It's quite a scene hundreds of camera toting suburban soccer moms, crowding in for a view of Cinderella or Dorothy from the Land of Oz. As I stand under the towering maples, the late October sun peeking through the crimson leaves, I'm impressed by our town's parental support and neighborly spirit. Moms toting iced cupcakes hurry into school, preparing for classroom parties. I smile at my husband, one of many dads who have taken time off work to watch their parading princesses.
Finally, it is time for trick-or-treat, an event which happens twice in our town. October 30 is Merchant's Trick-or-Treat, a delightful afternoon affair where children beg for coupons, gift certificates, and candies from local stores. Children who don't get their fill of Now and Laters, Snickers, and Tootsie Roll Pops have yet another chance: October 31, when Halloween officially arrives and kids can trick-or-treat in their individual neighborhoods. (Which, more often than not, is preceded by a Halloween costume party, complete with hot dogs and cider for the kids and stronger spirits for the adults.) Halloween can be exhausting, so I try to pick and choose my family's activities. We usually skip the town costume contest, but never would miss our family pumpkin carving tradition. Expensive costumes are not my style, so this year Hannah Montana will have to wear a borrowed wig and some sort of glittery shirt. Thankfully, my witch hat is still in pretty good shape.
It's easy to get carried away at Halloween time. Already, I'm searching for tiaras and dreaming of perfect pumpkins. But, I can't help but embrace a holiday centered around community and family fun. Add chocolate, and all the hoopla makes perfect sense. •
© 2008 Stefanie Wass, www.stefaniewass.com