My photos aren't as awesome, my posts aren't as awesome, and I am, in general, not as awesome as my gracious and talented blog host, but rest assured...what I lack in skill, I make up for with sheer enthusiasm and an absurd amount of words. I hope you enjoy my festive pairing here today -- a quick and dirty candy-inspired Nail Art look, as well as a history of what Halloween means to me. Thanks for having me, Vanessa -- I hope I've entertained you, your readers (and your little dog, too!).
When you start celebrating Halloween, it is all about the candy -- getting the most candy, getting the best candy, trading your crappy candy with friends who have poor taste in sugar-loaded goodies, gorging on candy, and swearing that next year...you'll try to do a better job of maintaining an even, spike-free blood sugar level...then promptly forgetting about that oath by the time October 31st rolls around once again. Some people take a short detour out of Candy Land in their teens and beyond, opting for pub crawls or late night Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings, donning costumes, creative or skanky ("I'm a mouse...duh.") and heading off to 'grown up' parties in lieu of begging for candy, mesmerized by the ever-present allure of Twizzlers, Mars bars, gumballs and rockets. Many return to their high fructose corn syrup-ed roots eventually -- handing out candy and eating handfuls of fun-sized chocolate bars between front porch visitors, or better yet...taking out their own children (or borrowed children, or adults who can pass as children) in order to 'tax' their spoils and net a small Tupperware worth of goodies for their own enjoyment. Not I, my friends...not I. I have never once skipped a Halloween. Growing up, we had it down pat -- my father would drive me, my sister, and some cousins around a rural community in the Ottawa valley (where half the people were, in some way, related to one of the kids in the van), the floorboards lined with open garbage bags waiting for us to dump the contents of our pillow cases...over and over and over. This is the type of Halloween that brings homemade fudge and shortbread cookies, and enough soda to fill a small cooler. The type of community where someone would send you home with a brown paper bag full of candy to give to the kid who wasn't able to make it out that year because he had a cold. I was utterly and completely spoiled on Halloween, and it ruined me for life.
Eventually, my dad stopped 'supporting' my Halloween habits, as any normal parent would at a certain age. Although it wasn't nearly as exciting as a 6pm-11pm adventure through the crunchy leaves and frosted lane ways of limitless country back-roads, we moved on and out of the tangle of family trees and my sister and I began trick-or-treating in our own hometown. The haul wasn't nearly as big (we walked it, no more chauffeured trips) but we still put the effort and energy into our annual Halloween experience. When I was sixteen, I was finally told that I was way, way too old to be going out; somewhere along the way, kids were starting to go out late, no costume, and it was beginning to make the residents of my smaller, less community-oriented town a little...uncomfortable. My friends and I always dressed up, were always positive and peppy and filled with the fun spirit of the holiday...but we were getting lumped in with the 'bad kids', and it seemed like the beginning of the end for my Halloween days. We kept it up, though; just a few houses, some familiar faces...but a quieter period that was augmented by homemade snacks and horror films. The Halloween spirit wasn't dead, but it was a little under-the-weather, as it were. It wasn't even about the candy...hell, I could get as much clearance candy as I wanted after the fact...but getting dressed up like Morticia Adams, Agent Scully...going out and doing something fun with your friends was a bit of a treat when you lived in a rural community, and something I did not want to lose. We didn't have movie theaters or malls for loafing. We had school dances, weekend sleepovers...and Halloween.
So I went back to the Valley, and we did some more Trick-or-Treating with younger cousins in tow. Friends of family still recognized us, still gave us bags upon bags of sugar, but it just didn't feel the same. We were growing up, and so was Halloween. Less homemade goodies; a lot of kids wouldn't eat them, and why go through the trouble for wasted effort? A lot of unfamiliar faces moving in to homes that once had inviting, open doors. Cold, dark windows and burnt-out pumpkins after 8pm. Bowls left on the doorstep with a sign asking for common courtesy to be respected. I moved on to taking out my sister-in-law (she was in her late teens, I, my early twenties), and our gang of well-dressed young ladies was always well-received in yet another rural community. I began to realize that while I spent the last seventeen-ish years holding on to memories of youthful trick-or-treating...that the fun didn't have to stop when you became an adult. The experience was different, but there was value and fun to be had from behind the wheel of the car, or in illuminating a walkway for smaller, excited footsteps. I could see it on the faces of the adults whose children ran from door to door with our (admittedly, oversized) Trick-or-Treat gang. I could hear it in my discussions with those parents -- parents who were seeing me as an peer -- a weird peer, but a peer nevertheless.
It was a good revelation, too, because I ended up having my own daughter a few short years later...and the cycle started over again. She has been going out since her first Halloween -- and yes, you do get candy when you bring out a six month old...and yes, it is all for you. But now, as she grows older, the experience is so much more meaningful. It seems that less and less people go out each year, with fewer hours to trick-or-treat and less houses with lit jack-o-lanterns, but the experience is what you make of it. So we make the best of it. I dress up, we go out for lunch in full costume and milk every opportunity to make the day as special as possible. We go out for as long as people will answer their doors, then go home and dump the candy on the floor, sorting it into piles of treats that are catalogued by the whimsy of a kindergartner (sort by colour this year? sure!). Then we gorge, for one night...because when you are four, it is all about the candy. But when you're an adult, you come to realize that, as saccharine as it may sound, the magic you experience through the eyes of a child on any holiday is a treat you can savour long after the sugar high wears away. Happy Halloween, everyone!
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