When I decided to sit down and write, I had no topic in mind. What I decided to do was to venture out to www.pixabay.com, a site that has license free pictures that can be utilized on blogs and websites (hint, hint). I wanted to peruse the pictures until one “spoke” to me. One that evoked a feeling or an emotion that made my mind click and whir and say to itself, “there is something there, dig for it.” I looked over dozens, maybe even a hundred photos. This is the one that grabbed me.
Two weeks ago, my blog post discussed my love for the Fall, or Autumn. One of the things that I love about Autumn is Halloween.
Halloween is a child’s holiday, but it is for the child that still lives in all of us; for this holiday defies age. The children in their costumes evoke our own memories of being those children, of the experience of walking house-to-house on a dark, cool night, ringing doorbells and crying out, “Trick or Treat!” Of being rewarded, and the pleasure of dumping the haul on the family room floor after returning home. The memories I have to share here are my memories – memories from my childhood, and memories of Halloween with my children. The are my nostalgia. I miss these times with my kids in particular, but the memories of the joy will last me forever.
My earliest memories from my hometown of Orange, California are of being dressed as a tiger. I did the tiger thing for a couple of years and after Halloween the costume became my pajamas. A few years later it was a cowboy: hat, chaps, and silver six shooters (loaded with a full roll of caps). My dad would take my younger brother and me out around our block. We would stop at every house, knock or ring and yell the magical, candy-producing chant. It always seemed so late when we got home. In reality, it was probably 7:30pm.
As I got older the thrill became twofold. First was the actual making of the costume. No more store bought costumes. In the back of my parents closet was an old dresser full of “dress-up” clothes. These were the makings of great Halloween goblins. My favorite was to go as a hobo. Old ripped jeans and a too large flannel shirt were topped off with a crumpled plastic pork-pie hat and a huge rubber cigar. 45 seconds with a charcoal briquette and my 10- or 11-year-old self had a respectable 5 o’clock shadow. Also, we had reached an age, in what was the more accepting 1970’s, that my dad no longer tagged along. We were ghouls on the loose.
Once properly adorned, and with the dark almost completely settled in (for my northern climes friends, it gets dark in SoCal much earlier than in Michigan) we set off with a goal: to reach the fire station on Shaffer St. This was the second part of the
thrill. Why? Because they always gave out full-sized sugar daddy bars! It was several blocks of walking (or seemed like it anyway) but you got to hit up every house getting there, and as many as you wanted on the way back until either A) you were too tired; B) your candy bag was full or weighed too much; or, C) any combination of the above.
As a child you view Halloween from the child’s perspective – the costumes, the candy, the mischief. Then I became a parent.
I have three children and each has given me the joy of seeing Halloween through their eyes. Costumes as unique to each child as they are unique to other kids. Vampire, pirate, executioner, dalmation, princess, clown, an elf, and on and on.
When they were little, like my father before me, I escorted them around the neighborhood, taking them to doors, reminding them to say “Thank you.” When they reached the point where dad providing escort was “no longer cool” (and dad deemed them old enough) they were off in large groups of friends. I am sure their memories will be much like mine, and very different too. Perhaps the basis for their own story one day.
October and Halloween hold other cherished memories for me , also. Memories that I have no doubt are shared by my wife and kids through the lenses of their perception; but all good.
Our family loves the movie Hocus Pocus. I haven’t seen it now in a few years, but when the kids were younger, we loved to watch it together every year, particularly the girls.
]For my son it was A Nightmare Before Christmas. The Jack Skellington mug in my office at work attests to my love of that movie also. I have always been especially taken with the musical score.
Another great Halloween movie memory is The Halloween Tree. Written and narrated by Ray Bradbury this animated film from the Cartoon Network tells unique stories of Halloween from the perspectives of different times and cultures throughout the world. It is done in such an enjoyable and charming way that it’s not until the movie ends that you realize that you just might have gotten a little education, too. Like Hocus Pocus, I would say that The Halloween Tree is one of those films that families refer to as “cozy” and can watch over and over again.
Now remember this picture? Yes, it spurred me to write about Halloween, but it still says more to me, and I think that is why I chose it. Often when I see a photo, I “feel” things from the picture. Black and white pictures in particular pull this sensation from me,
While still Autumn related, looking at this picture makes me think of walks I used to take as a teenager, late at night, around the home we lived in out in the country. I could take the dogs with me and let them off their leashes and listen to them as they ran through the undergrowth. It evokes for me the end of the growing season and the Harvest Moon. I smell leaves burning and feel crisp air on my face. I see children bobbing for apples, and I hear the breeze rustling the red and gold dying leaves. I imagine the frost that will soon start to greet me in the morning.
Pictures all tell a story, and sometimes our story is not the same as that of the photographer. But the beauty of art is that it is for any interpretation we want to give it.
All the best.