Big weekend coming up. An item on the evening news reported the astounding amount of money spent on costumes, candy and decorations for the Hallowe'en celebration. It's big party-time and big business and a far cry from the quiet little aberration that marked a break in the fall routine in Winnipeg, in my day, half a century ago.
Were we the only people - kids - on the continent who didn't shout "Trick or Treat"? It still seems strange to me even as I write it. Do people - kids - really say that? Surely not. We used to shout "Hallowe'en apples!" with a specific rhythm and tone I can still reproduce, and we held open our pillowcases to receive the goodies, apples included. We didn't carry fancy containers: plastic pumpkins (orange) or cute witches' cauldrons (black), not nearly big enough to hold apples. Years later, nasty people started slipping razor blades into the fruit so no one hands out apples any more. I admit they did get bruised; you had to make apple sauce or pie the day after. That is, I cooked bruised apples because I have a fetish about leftovers. That's the next generation, though. and I'm not finished with my memory trip.
I was an urban kid. Maybe that's why we didn't offer the choice of a trick if our donors failed to come up with a treat. What's the worst we could we do? There was no point in soaping windows and no outhouses to topple. We trotted happily from house to house collecting our loot and no one paid much attention to us. We didn't wear costumes, maybe a few colourful bead necklaces, big earrings and a little lipstick or, for boys, pencilled moustaches and a pirate's head scarf. No one seemed to care. There was one place, I remember, where, for perhaps two years, we would be invited inside to be inspected by a jolly group of people amid much laughter. Only years later I identified the fragrance in that living room as rising from alcohol (Canadian rye whisky in those days). i guess those were the first Hallowe'en parties. And then, I remember nothing.
Those were the war years (WW II); sugar was rationed. No one was celebrating. By the time Hallowe'en surfaced in my consciousness I had children and a couple of problems. One was costumes (I don't sew). The other was keeping them warm. This was Winnipeg, remember. Costumes had to be big enough to fit over snowsuits. And then, of course, there were those leftover apples I had to cope with. Bill and I were invited to an adult Hallowe'en party and we dressed up, nothing elaborate. No big deal.
Then we moved to Ontario, and the last Hallowe'ens when I was involved with any production problems. I dressed the kids in clothes appropriately warm for a late October night in Winnipeg. They were home in less than 20 minutes, in a lather, so hot they were ripping off scarves and hats and mitts. You see, it's all what you get used to in your early years.
So now, I shake my head in wonder as I pass houses draped with cobwebs and ghouls, with tombstones in the front yards and disembodied hands clutching up from the earth, gleaming skulls impaled on wrought iron fence posts, or giant blown-up pumpkins rocking in the light of an LED spot. Well!
I fanners the Kit Kat bars.