My love and I returned Sunday evening from a whirlwind 12 day trip to Japan. The laundry has been
done and the luggage put away until the next adventure, BUT my brain is still at sea. So while today is not Thursday, it is close enough to be Thereabouts! And Hallowe'en sits on the doorstep waiting for pumpkins to be carved and lit.
In Japan, Tokyo in particular, Hallowe'en is big deal, and mainly for big kids, aka adults. It's an occasion to dress up and have fun. No door-to-door trick or treating, just neighbourhood celebrations in the streets and restaurants.
Back home in Canada, Halloween remains, for the most part a children's festival. Costumes have to be both fashionable and endurable. They have to fit over snow suits and galoshes. They have to maintain their integrity in some of the wildest winds and torrential rains. Past years have brought rain and wind, cold and snow, and on occasion, even a balmy evening. According to the latest weather forecast, the night of the Great Pumpkin will be warm with a chance of rain and an asteroid.
In my elementary school days, there were no costume parades or parties yet there was no shortage of Halloween themed activities - from art and music to reading, writing and yes even arithmetic. The whole week was haunted with decorations, songs, stories and math problems all featuring ghosts, goblins, witches and jack-o-lanterns. It was fun and a great run up for the big night.
My preferred characters for Trick or Treating were pirates, gypsies and tramps (no thieves - lol), and the outfits were hobbled together from stuff in the house an hour or so before heading out. The one exception was the very special year my parents bought me a pirate costume. Dad made the eye patch. My Mom was not a seamstress, but she did know a thing or two about makeup. There was an awful lot she could do with a burnt cork, baby powder and red lipstick. She also had that big jar of cold cream for getting all the stuff off afterwards.
Beyond the orange and black wrapped molasses candies, apples, peanuts in the shell and packages of sunflower seeds, many of the treats were homemade and every kid knew which house in the neighbourhood had the best ones.
For years, our house was #1.
My mother's speciality at Halloween, at any time actually, was conjured up in the kitchen. She made popcorn balls - rounds of white popcorn held together by molasses syrup boiled to the hard crack stage. With buttered hands, so the hot syrup didn't stick, Mom quickly assembled the hardball sized treats. The hot syrup always burned her hands no matter how fast she worked.
Gone now are such delectables, even the apples and peanuts are absent from the treat bag. We've all had to buy into the commercial brands. There will be zombies and vampires out tomorrow night and probably lots of Princesses of Arendelle, but very few pirates and tramps. And it's been a very long time since I've heard anyone utter my childhood chant, "Shell out! Shell out! The witches are out!"
I've got to get out there and buy the treats and a pumpkin.
Be safe out there, and have a "Spook-tacular" time.
And a favourite song from my childhood:
It's Halloween, the lamps are lit
around the fire the children sit
telling ghost tales bit by bit
and sister Jane says, "hush"
who's that creeping cross the kitchen floor
who's that peeking round the bedroom door
who's that SCREECHING like his throat is sore
It's a GOBLIN!
©2015 April Hoeller