Trick or Treat Indeed
I was raised in New England, in Massachusetts. A more Halloween conscious state you would be hard pressed to find. Probably part of that Salem/Puritan thing. Even two weeks ago when I was visiting there, yards all over the state were decorated in anticipation. Ghosts flew from trees, pumpkins were piled in big, roiling heaps, stalks of corn were gathered and rested against door posts. Cardboard witches were in windows, and Indian corn was hanging from the front doors. Some houses even had more techno-savvy decor, but as that is not my taste, I won't go on about it. Suffice to say, it was as though the state colors had turned to 0range and Black, dotted with giant clumps of chrysanthemums.
As a kid, my mother made all my costumes from scratch. That was for two reasons -- 1st we could not afford to buy ready-made, and second because I think I was fulfilling my mother's own fantasy about the kind of Halloweens she wishes that she had had. Nonetheless, I always looked forward to the whole adventure..including the scrounging around for fabric on sale or hidden away in some drawer -- or outfits that could be re-purposed. I recall one year as a geisha in a kimono made from what used to be drapes in a oriental print. Then I was a kind of Carmen Miranda gypsy wearing a bowl of plastic fruit on my head which had been glued into a basket and tied to a scarf, and a whirling striped skirt and tons of necklaces. Then I was a flapper in a black dress with tons of gold fringe on it from an upholstery store going out of business. The dress was one of my Mom's old taffetta slips, given wide straps made from the narrowing up bits. I always fely glamorous and special and so proud of my Mom.
But here was the best part. When we called on a neighborhood house, I was allowed to take candy, but always had to leave a handful too (My bag was pre-stocked from home).
My mother was very clear about why --"Because in *this* family we never just *take*."
She didn't want her kid standing in front of someone's door expecting to be given something -- feeling entitled to it just because of the calendar's date.
I like that part of my upbringing. I get troubled by the sense of entitlement I see among some American children, children whom their parents protected from the reality of life -- children who have grown into young adults never having to face what things cost -- never having to understand how a family sacrifices one 'thing' in order to have another. I see parents struggling to find the money so that their kid can have any number of absurdly priced items without the child having any understanding of this in the broader scheme of things. My hunch is there will be hell to pay when the grim reality of the work world catches up.