FILED IN: Parenting

Old Ghosts of Halloweens Past

My kids love Halloween and start planning their respective costumes soon after the first day of summer vacation.

“I’m going to be a dead cheerleader!”

However, now that they’re getting older, I’m having a hard time finding the idea of having them dress up as a dead… anything… as being all that festive, really.

“Okay, but how about a devil, or something?”

My 8year-old, most especially.

“Being a devil is boring!”

Not from where I sit.

“Actually, I think you’d really be good at it.”

Perhaps—channeling my inner-Stevie Nicks – it’s because I am getting older, too.


Never mind, sarcastic humor is wasted on the young.

“Plus, a lot of my friends are gonna be dead cheerleaders, too.”

To think, last year it was High School Musical.

“I want to be a dead cheerleader, too!”

Besides, having watched my parents fight, tooth and nail, just to be able to live without the constant pain, or worry that both their bodies are slowly betraying them, well, I truly believe in the magically restorative powers of seeing their grandchildren dressed as fairy princesses and Winnie the Pooh.

Every year, I really dread the thought of taking my kids shopping for their Halloween costumes.

On the other hand, as a child, I remember my mother and father coming home from work one day and excitedly handing me a shopping bag from the now defunct Two Guys discount store.

“It’s your Halloween costume.”

I reached in, gently pulled out the cardboard box and noticed right away that it was a witch’s costume, for the bright green mask staring back at me, right through the plastic cellophane cover and I still remember it feeling a lot like Christmas.

My twin brother was Casper the Ghost that year.

“Make sure you’re back before the street lights come on.”

For years, both my parents worked full-time jobs and then cleaned office buildings at night, so my grandmother would send us off with our pumpkin heads and Trick-or-Treat with the other neighborhood kids.

I don’t recall any of their parents being around to watch, or remind them to use the walkways, rather than run straight across lawns and rush their way through flower patches, either.

Then, some jerk decided to put razor blades in some apples and, well, parents started insisting that kids wait until they got home so they could check our candy first.

Halloween wasn’t as much fun, for a while, after that.

Then, in 8th grade, my slightly eccentric yet amazingly artistic Aunt decided that I should attend my first Halloween Dance as something a little more exotic.

“How about a Geisha Girl?”

She pulled out one of her best silk robes (it was white, with a gold dragon wrapped around the middle), then she took one of her best wigs (the one that made her look like Cher), secured it to my hair with two chopsticks and proceeded to transform me even further with some of her best makeup and her favorite fan made of real ivory.

“You look beautiful!”

I felt it, too.

“What the heck are you supposed to be?”

Unfortunately, none of my classmates were feeling it – never mind, they probably didn’t even know what the heck a Geisha was supposed to look like, anyway – and, well, I just started telling people that I was a casualty of the Orient Express.


Apparently, they hadn’t read any Agatha Christie… either… needless to say, I left the party with a deflated head of hair, smeared eye makeup and a slightly bruised ego, to match.

“Trick or Treat!”

My parents were home early, that night.

“Wow…what happened to you?”

Go figure.

“I know; pretty scary, right?”

My father just stood there, staring at me, while mother jumped up, mumbling something about her Polaroid camera.

“Actually, you look very beautiful!”

So, I smiled and, well, it sort of felt like Christmas, all over again – I wonder, what happened to that picture?

“Well, okay, if you really want to be a dead cheerleader."

Halloween happens only once a year – thank goodness – besides,  my parents love everything their grandchildren do, say, or wear and live to undermine any decisions my husband, Garth [not his real name] and I make, for them, anyway.

“Plus, I want to wear my High School Musical outfit, again!”

Well, that my friends, then pretty much changes everything… right?