16 Comments

THE VEIL WAS THIN


Happy Day of the Dead” doesn’t sound right for some reason, though for those who celebrate it, I’m sure it is a grand occasion. Ignorant as I am, with such strong Protestant beginnings, I had never heard of it. My religious grandmother even refused to admit that the Irish side of our family probably were Catholic.

My first recollection of Halloween was dressing in a Dutch Girl costume at the age of 7 and offering my handmade paper basket to a neighbor to drop some candy in. There was probably only room for a piece or two of penny candy but I thought it great fun to be out at night and knocking on someone’s door. I don’t remember anyone giving me candy, so I think I simply knocked and ran.

Living in so many places afterward, I was never able to do this again, and I don’t remember any costumed urchins coming to our houses either, so Halloween was never a big deal in our house. My father loved to tell stories of his youth in Grants Pass, Oregon, when tricks such as tipping outhouses over were performed. I don’t think candy was involved.

When my children arrived, Halloween became a much awaited holiday, and the making of costumes fell to me. As the years went by, the costumes became more elaborate, and not to be left out, I found myself in the spirit of the season.

My idea of a Halloween outfit leaned toward the Frankenstein rather than beauty, and my neighbor and I had far too much fun frightening small tricksters.

One of my daughters loved Halloween so much, and I felt bad for her the year she became ill and couldn’t join the others on the street. Eventually she dressed in her costume and sat on a table in front of a large window where children who came onto our porch could watch her and wonder if she was real or not.

Our house is situated so that in forty-two years no one has come to collect booty, however I carefully choose large bags of candy to hand out, making sure they are the kind we like just in case. This morning I bagged them back up and put them in the freezer. I know from experience that they will last until sometime in February.

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16 comments on “THE VEIL WAS THIN

  1. No one ever knocked on our door for candy. The farm was over 500 metres from the road, but…it did not deter Jehovah’s witnesses to walk up to try and save me. The shops are now quickly moving into the Christmas mode. I haven’t yet seen a Santa but it won’t be long. A madness is in the air already, a quickening of steps with a nervous tension.
    Hold onto your wallets!

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    • It really IS madness. The extreme decoration for Christmas has now spread to Halloween decorations in yards. They have their hands in your pockets long before you are aware of it. I pity the modern parent who is captive to their children who are captive to blatant TV ads for Christmas already. Unfortunately it is too late to turn back.

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  2. I haven’t had a trick or treater here in at least 15 years. I even stopped buying the “just in case” candy thinking it might bring them. Nope. Nada, ziltch. Our house sits back off of the road, but like other comment said, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and salesmen find us just fine.

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  3. We live in a rural situation without Trick or Treaters as well, Kayti, much to Peggy’s dismay, who loves all holidays. Still, she decorates the house and we love to carve our pumpkins. –Curt

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  4. Our driveway is long and dark and no child has ventured up it in the three years we’ve been here. This year I didn’t buy any treats at all. Also, I think a lot of parents are taking small children to parties or events at community centres rather than taking them trick or treating.

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  5. The comments amuse me b/c so few people receive trick or treaters! maybe the parents are paranoid these days – of drugs in candy?

    Ecuador’s Day of the Dead is quite special, and much more to my liking than the Halloween traditions. (Actually I loved Halloween when I lived in the states…) but with years, the old wears away and the new customs blossom. The holiday is very quiet, and it is truly to honor the loved ones. People take picnics to the cemetery and set a place for their departed loved ones, and while they leisurely visit with family, they also share what’s happened in the past year – good and bad….

    Now that those days of honor have passed, people are now on vacation, so its a long holiday weekend….

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    • It sounds like a pleasant way to spend the occasion (I hesitate calling it a “holiday”). It never held this much attention when I was younger, but it is nice to have another occasion to celebrate. For many years we occasionally met other family members and picniced in our old family cemetery. I’m afraid we didn’t include the dearly departed, but we shared family history along with egg salad sandwiches. As with so many other things, when older family members depart, the custom dies with them. I loved hearing about Ecuador’s celebration.

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  6. So ignorant was I of this American tradition when it first advanced into the UK that when first faced with the question “Trick or Treat?” from innocent little ghouls at my doorstep, I answered “Treat please.” Their father and I stared at each other for a while nonplussed and then they all went away in silence as I closed the door, mystified.

    In later years and after the arrival of threatening youths with the same question I made sure my door was bolted and barred for the night.

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    • My granddaughter now living in London, just had her first experience with Halloween when two small “urchins” accosted her on the street for a trick or treat. She realized they were beggars and sent them off.
      No one ever comes to our door on Halloween, but we too keep the door locked and the porch dark. Instead of charming little children there are too many older ones now.
      I loved your reply “Treat please”!

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  7. Something else we did that just has come to mind would be right up your alley: store window painting. Every store on the town square was decorated by one school class or another.

    Since there were more classes than windows, I’m not sure how it worked out, but I suspect every junior and senior high school class had a store, and the grade schoolers were lumped together: perhaps 2nd-4th and 5th-6th. The littlest kids had to wait until they were big kids. There was none of this foolishness about everyone getting to participate, or not allowing anyone to feel left out. If you were in 1st grade and felt left out? Well, that was your problem. You had to wait until you were a big kid!

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    • What a great project! Good lessons in many ways. One year I had the whole school make individual tiles which were mounted around a public fountain. It involved drafting them first, then actually making the clay tiles. It involved all ages who cared to participate and was a real community effort. Oh yes, it DID take more than one year.

      I think it is important to get everyone involved in community.

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