All good things must pass

Castlegar News bi-weekly columnist Karen Haviland looks fondly at Halloweens gone by

So how are the kids? Are they on a sugar high and begging you incessantly for the candy you have carefully portioned so they don’t gobble it all down in one sitting? Are your house and yard littered with the ghost of Halloween past?

Have you just about had enough of Halloween yet? If so, this column’s not likely for you.

When I was a kid I had to walk a mile to school, uphill and barefoot. Okay, that didn’t really happen. But, when I was a kid, Halloween was a heck of a lot different than it is today.

First off, Halloween was Halloween, and then came Christmas. None of this stuff about Christmas goods being on display before the Halloween paraphernalia. What’s up with that?

We five siblings would anticipate Halloween at least a month in advance. I’m not sure if we were greedy for the candy, or if it was about the costumes or running loose in the dark like a pack of wild wolves. Whatever the case might be, the month leading up to the big day was certainly a month of headaches for our poor mother who, besides raising five energetic children, also worked outside the home and barely had time for herself, let alone time for preparing for the annual event.

In the day, there were no purchased costumes for us. At first, when we were young children, mom would be in charge of figuring out five costumes. Thinking of that alone boggles my mind. Talk about imagination and creativity! No matter what though, we were always properly and frightfully costumed by the time the big day came around.

Then, as we got older, each of us children was responsible for creating our own costumes. I admit now that sometimes my costumes lacked imagination or originality. I mean, seriously, a woven basket turned upside down and tied to my head with string was a far cry from the orienental hat I imagined it to be.

Nonetheless, the neighbours all greeted us enthusiastically. I believe what’s different from those days to now, was back then there were no such things as manufactured candy bags for us. We simply grabbed a pillow case and began wildly marauding throughout the neighbourhood. Our neighbours were always generous – we frequently had to return home to dump our booty and then head back out in the quest for candy.

You see, it wasn’t unusual to receive full sized, yes, I mean full sized chocolate bars. Not those miniature, one-bite ones we get today. Then there were the homemade popcorn balls and candied apples. Nowadays most conscientious parents carefully comb through their children’s candy and throw out the homemade stuff and the goods with tears in the packaging. While my parents were conscientious, we lived in a community in which everyone knew everyone. We had block parties and the parents all looked out for all the kids in the community, so there was little worry that some psycho bent on inflicting pain was lurking in our midst. With that in mind, and after carefully inspecting the goods, we children were allowed to gobble down just about anything that came out of those pillowcases.

It’s sad to see those days pass. Nowadays, parents and organizations host Halloween parties so the children are safe and protected. Sadly, that is how it should be. All you have to do is read the news in the next couple of days and you can be assured that there will be some sick story about razor blades in apples or poisoned candy. What a sad statement about today’s society and how very tragic that many children won’t know the pure joy of trick or treating from house to house.