My mom wouldn't let us celebrate Halloween. In her mind, a legion of demons would whisk our precious souls away and we'd spend our days doing satanic ritual killings of chickens and other small animals and possibly become practitioners of Santeria. "It's the devil's night," she would say as my brothers and I were sent off to school to suffer the torment of bullies for being the only ones not in costume, clutching our notes instructing the teacher to send us to the library during the class Halloween party.
The only upside of this is that the dreamiest boy in school's mother was also a great believer in the evil of Halloween, so for that one hour every year he was forced to hang out with me among the smell of moldy books as we received looks of annoyance from the librarian, who most likely wished our crazy moms would have just kept us home and let her have an hour of peace. Looking back, I wonder that too. Why not make it a fun "sick" day and let us avoid the humiliation?
For someone who was already a social outcast, I came to dread Halloween with a passion. I only wanted to fit in and be like the other kids, maybe make a friend. I had visions of trick-or-treating, wearing a Marcia Brady costume or something equally fab, with the popular kids encircling me to make me one of their own, if only for one night.
But we had to shut off all the lights and go to a movie or the mall, or worse - to my grandparent's house to help them pass out candy to all the kids with normal parents. My Nana and Pop were great celebrators of Halloween and any holiday, and would sneak us candy when mom wasn't looking. It was small consolation to three kids who just wanted to be at the big Halloween party at Boone Village shopping center, the hub of activity where all the youth converged after trick-or-treating for dancing, hayrides and fun galore!
The Halloween memories are the strongest in my mind from childhood, I don't know why. But I think it's why I let my kids celebrate it! I love that, on Halloween night, they get out among the other kids (and teenage girls dressed like hookers) for all the fun. I stick close, in case a hungry demon tries to get too close to their souls. And look forward to bedtime when I can raid the stash...
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.