Scary Fast

I was idly scrolling down my Facebook news feed yesterday when I spotted a couple of photos my daughter had posted of my son and herself, all dressed up for Halloween.  They were taken when my children were very young, in the preschool and kindergarten years, but when I looked at the pictures, I was instantly flooded with very specific memories of those two Halloweens.

martha-and-daniel-2I remembered that my daughter’s angel costume had been borrowed from church  (one of the costumes used for the annual Christmas program), and I remembered how grateful I was that my son wanted to be a fireman two years in a row.  I wasn’t one of those moms who enjoyed putting together elaborate costumes for my children, which also explains why my daughter’s ballerina costume in the second picture is nothing more than her dance class outfit with a shirt underneath the tutu to keep her warm.

I remembered how we carved the pumpkins just before eating dinner, so that our Jack-0-Lanterns would be ready for any early arrivals.  I remember how my husband and I took turns being the parent who stayed at home to greet trick-or-treaters, and the parent who took our kids around the neighborhood.  I remember the pumpkin sugar cookies I made,  dying the frosting orange and then adding just a touch of green for the pumpkin stem.  (I may not have been big on costumes, but I put an effort into those Halloween cookies.)  Mostly I remember the barely contained excitement of my son and daughter when the big night finally arrived, and for once, getting a lot of candy wasn’t just allowed, it was actually encouraged.

When my children were young, I was a stay-at-home mom who was struggling to make a go of a free-lance writing career.  Sometimes I felt a bit overwhelmed by the constant demands on my time, the never-ending cycle of laundry, meals, dirty diapers, and trying to keep two very active little people safe, healthy, and happy.  Occasionally I felt isolated and lonely, missing the company of my co-workers and the way I took easy access to adult conversation for granted.  Older women, especially my mom, often told me to treasure the years when my children were young, and warned me that they would be over far too soon.  “In the blink of an eye,” they said, “this will all be gone.”

martha-and-daniel-1

I’m ashamed to say that there were times when I didn’t quite believe them, because time didn’t seem to be moving all that fast to me.  But now my daughter is a 30-year old married woman, and my son is a 27-year old man who will be married in less than two weeks.  It seems like only yesterday that they were a little ballerina and fireman, and so excited for Halloween they could hardly stand still.  How can that be?  How in the world did time move so very quickly?  I remember those sweet days of their early childhood so very well, but I guess I must have blinked…..

Halloween Memories

Lea and I halloweenThere’s something about Halloween that almost makes me wish I was a kid again.  I remember when I was very young, and Halloween meant a trip to the local Woolworth’s to pick out my costume, back in the days when they came in a cardboard box with a clear cellophane top so you could see what you were getting.  Later, I’d help carve the family pumpkin, and then we’d head out to trick our treat in the neighborhood.  The best part was after trick or treating, when I’d come home and sort through my haul, eating as much candy as I could before my mom noticed what I was up to.

When I got a bit older, my friends and I would piece together our own costumes from whatever we could find around the house.  None of us had fancy costumes, either store bought or hand made, but we didn’t care.  My favorite was when I put a black cape over a white sheet, and went trick or treating as Dracula’s ghost.  By then the chief attraction of the holiday wasn’t so much the candy as it was a fun night out with my friends, telling jokes and trying to scare each other as we walked down the dark streets toward the next house.


Later, when I had my own kids, I could revive a little bit of that Halloween excitement through them.  I helped pick out or make their costumes (I wasn’t very good at sewing, but they didn’t seem to notice), enjoyed watching them in the school Halloween parade, helped with the class parties and took them trick or treating.  But eventually my kids got old enough to trick or treat without me, and then stopped going altogether.

Martha and Daniel HalloweenNow I am middle aged, and I think I have just outgrown Halloween.  I still put real pumpkins on my porch and set out a couple of ceramic pumpkins in my living room, but I can’t be bothered to string orange lights, stretch fake spider webs across my bushes or place crime scene tape across the steps.  And I certainly don’t want to turn my front yard into a fake cemetery or put zombie figures on my lawn.  I don’t believe that Halloween decorations should ever be graphic enough to scare small children, the way the the barbecue pit with a bloody Santa Claus head on it I once saw on someone’s porch most certainly would.

I know there are lots of adults who still enjoy Halloween, and love the elaborate decorations and the Halloween parties that require costumes, and that’s fine.  I’m just not one of them. My husband and I did go to several costume parties when we were newly married, and I thought they were fun, although my husband didn’t like dressing up.  (One year he went as an Accountant, which he is, so that meant he didn’t have to wear a costume.  And that was the only year he didn’t whine about having to go to a Halloween party.) But it’s been many years since I’ve dressed up on Halloween, and I honestly don’t miss it.

These days my Halloween celebration consists of carving a jack-o-lantern, maybe making a few pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies and handing out candy to the kids who ring our doorbell on Halloween night.  It’s true I don’t get the same feelings of anticipation and excitement that Halloween used to bring, but that’s okay.  I  believe that Halloween is for the young, and I’m no longer young.   And I know I’m lucky to have a lot of great memories from when I was.