Out of the [Broom] Closet
October 31st, having arrived after an eternity, I can finally come out of my [broom] closet and admit that I am not a fan. When I was a kid, it was all good. There were a whole bunch of us in my family, who would go out in home-made costumes, tame by today’s standards, but go out we did.
However, upon returning to the house, the ritual required that we gather around the more than spacious kitchen table and empty our bags of treats out in one gigantic pile. Then Mama would begin the classifying and sorting of the goodies, including a share for Papa, who had a yen for chocolate, and piles for the “little kids” who were still too small to trick-or-treat.
Though it may have seemed an old-fashioned concept at the time, no one balked at seeing that the final portion that was received, was smaller than that which was brought back from the outing. It’s just the we did things.
So what happened to dampen my enthusiasm? Maybe it was the razor blades that started appearing in the apples, or the fact that anything that was “home-made” took on a slightly ominous note. If it wasn’t store-wrapped, it was suspicious.
More likely, it has to do with a lifetime of anxiety when it come to scary films. Having been terrified into any number of panic attacks by the “Twilight Zone,” or films such as “Tales from the Crypt” I am more than happy to ignore the whole day.
I think back to a time, a couple of years after I got out of the army, when I had a fine head of hair, and a flaming-red beard that went down to the middle of my chest. It was enough to make people approaching me, side-step to the other side of the road. I didn’t care, because those who knew me, still greeted me with a hug and a howdy.
However, when I was invited to a costume party at the home of a fellow employee of the auto-parts house, I decided to take the extreme step of shaving both my beard and my head. I donned a conservative outfit, and went as a “reformed hippie.”
Lo and behold, there were a lot of people at this party, only a dozen or so who knew me. The net result was basically, “Hey, look at the goofy guy who did not dress up for the party.” Big sigh. The best laid plans of mice and men.
Later, as an educator, I, together with the man with whom I team-taught, hosted the annual Halloween party at the middle school. My biggest problem then was the fact that the kids who chose to wear masks, had a certain element of anonymity, which, as you may guess, does not really work on a middle school campus, when the mood was already off the charts.
How does a teacher maintain a modicum of appropriate behavior, when he knows not, who the clown is who is running roughshod over the rest of the kids?
Living on a mountain, and not having had trick-or-treaters since the eighties, when my own small sons would invite local neighbors (all three of them) to stop by and trick-or-treat, I am relieved of this responsibility. The time will come, I feel certain, when grandchildren will force me to further adjust my attitude, but for now, I am content to let the whole holiday slip past, while the inexorable march of time brings me closer to what I really consider a holiday: Thanksgiving and her big sister Christmas.
Yes, I saw a Christmas advertisement on the television the other night, but instead of groaning, I was grinning. What can I say? The only person in costume is Santa, and he evokes sweet dreams, not nightmares.