Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween Southern Style

Halloween Southern Style

It was a warm and comfortable night. The breeze was blowing gently, moms with strollers strolled their small charges up and down the streets chatting socially. Crowds of parents with crowds of children greeted each other congenially. Children dressed in costumes with short sleeves and/or tights roamed with flying bags filled to the top with popcorn balls and candy. A gentle rain began to fall and a neighbor drove our whole group home. When the little purple witch and the demon cat came in they asked for a cold drink. Candy packages were tied with pretty ribbon over little bags. Welcome to Halloween in the South.

This is not the Halloween I grew up with, nor the one my children have experienced so far. MY Halloween was usually the day we could expect the first snow. We prayed for it, even though it would mean wearing a heavy coat over our costumes or bulking up underneath with long underwear. There were no fairy princesses in pink dresses and dress shoes. There were hippy hikers with fatigues and snow boots. There were strange plastic garbage bag clad monsters with down coats hidden by dark green. We looked forward to arriving home to hot chocolate and sitting around a table where we would carefully sort through our candy looking for suspicious open packages which my parents feared were injected with LSD.

There were neighbors of sketchy character, who truly made the trip a little bit creepier. Fathers and mothers tightly bundled in warm coats, their hands gloved, faces wrapped, held flashlights grudgingly. They prayed the kids would get tired quick, get tired NOW. Later in the night we could count on some of the neighborhood ‘bad kids’ coming around T-P ing and smashing pumpkins, upsetting the parents mightily and kind of freaking us kids out too. And this was the nice area of town.

In Seattle kids wore warm raingear and REI was the new black. Umbrellas were de’riguer and we mainly attended door-to-door affairs in the downtown of our little town with plenty of hot drinks and not a few sips from the pocket flask.

In Wisconsin my children dressed in scarves, hats and earmuffs and we pretty much ran from house to house before our feet became numb. We didn’t want to have to carry kids home, teeth chattering and red nosed with nasal secretions running down onto our shoulders. We were all Desperate Housewives, even the men. The candy was pretty solid on arrival and we had to thaw some of it before chewing. (Frozen 3-Musketeers are a delicacy.)

This Halloween was a full on weeklong celebration with one event after another. My children dressed up in full costume on three different occasions ending finally with the actual trick-or-treating, seemingly anticlimactic after a week and fun and frolic. Who needs candy corn when you’ve had cupcakes, cake and self-decorated cookies?

I put up our decorations the night of Halloween wearing a t-shirt and no shoes. We couldn’t put anything up earlier because the dog took constant offence at the strange figures on the walls and doors. Responsible big brothers came out last on the candy collection train. They had been responsibly handing out treats to the younger generation with good will and enthusiasm. This may have been the spookiest part of all.

I also learned of an odd custom the kids called Trunk-or-treating, a bunch of church members parking in the lot of their church handing out candy from the trunk of their car. I didn’t find out if the trunks were decorated, or if maybe they had a body in there ala’ the Mafia. Did they hand out the candy or make the kids dive for it? Did they park right next to each other or some distance apart so the kids had to work to get to the next car with obstacles so that getting the treats was actually tricky? Who came up with this? Doesn’t this seem a little…weird or unsafe?

Next they'll be telling me people can legally fire shotguns in unincorporated areas...oh wait...


JoannaO said...

I like your blog! I never thought about regional expressions of Halloween--here in Minnesota, it seems necessary to design a costume that can be worn with a snowsuit sometimes. As a did in SF, we had more of the smashing pumpkins/big kids stealing our candy kind of episodes.

Emotenote said...

Thanks Joanna, I'm finding it alot of fun to write. I remember once in Colorado (and this will date me) I just bought a red snowsuit, painted some snowboots silver and went as Mork from Ork. Very warm and cozy.