I had a great time the last three days sharing “back in the day” photos on social media with my family and friends. It was a Halloween tradition, back in the 1990’s, for my older sister to throw a real monster of a party each year. Oh, it started out as a small event, but it rapidly grew to outlandish proportions.
Every year, she added more décor, more surprises, more food, and more friends. I helped her paint tombstones for her front yard with clever epitaphs: “Here lies Ida Dodge – She never saw it coming.” “RIP Two Timing Tom – He two timed one time too many.” We stuffed scarecrows and hoisted hanged men from the tree in her front yard. The living room was covered in cobwebs and she created window treatments with torn hefty bags for that creepy vibe.
Kids were welcome in the early hours, and then were sent off to the loving refuge of their grandparent’s houses while we stayed to laugh and mix it up with friends late into the night. I looked forward to that day all year. Friends would visit from far off places, and it became an annual reunion of sorts. The occasional drama erupted – a jilted ex-boyfriend or an uninvited guest might try to monkey wrench the evening, but that was a rarity. I can’t think of those days without a big smile creeping across my face. I was surrounded by friends, family, and laughter – my three favorite things in all the world.
Twenty years have passed since that first party, and Halloween is different now. It’s been a decade or more since the last big gathering – and I live much too far away to attend even if the tradition were revived. I don’t dress up anymore; instead most of my creative ideas go into designing costumes for my kids – which some would say is the more appropriate use of my talents!
Some people don’t care for Halloween – they think it is too scary, too dark, too creepy. I can respect that; truth be told, I don’t care for a lot of gore or horror myself. Funny thing though – that’s never the first thing I think of when this day rolls around. Instead I think of my family and friends, and how much I miss them all. I remember Halloween 1994, and how I fell in love with a masked Zorro with a car antenna for a sword. And I can’t help but think of my sisters – one dressed as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the other as Peg Bundy — and I laugh out loud. Those memories will be with me forever.
I’ll be making memories of a different sort today as I help my kids with their costumes, and pass out candy to the neighborhood ghouls and goblins. I’m not the party girl I used to be, and these days I’m more than happy to go to bed quite a bit earlier on Halloween. Still…I can’t help but wish Buffy and Peg were here with me. Happy Halloween, ladies – I’m with you in spirit!
And Happy Halloween to the rest of you, too!