I’m writing this, my 263rd column, the night before Hallowe’en. Actually, truth be known, it’s actually now Hallowe’en Day.
Though you’ll read this after all the tiny witches, goblins, and whatever the newest television superheroes are these days, have been to your door.
But I’m thinking back, since this is the first Hallowe’en since 1978 that we’ve had no youngster in our house. They’re all gone.
But the memories are fresh. Creating costumes, muscles, armour, short pants made of fake fur that characterized He-Man, Master of the Universe, sometime in the mid 80’s. As I recall we wrapped thin layers of foam around Kid One’s skinny legs, then added thick skin-coloured leotards. We lived on a street of older neighbours whose kids were all grown; nobody recognized He-Man until we reached the end of our street and dear Alison Osterman shelled out and complimented He-Man on his splendid costume. She saved the night!
I have memory after memory of the anticipation, the excitement, the sharing of goodies when it was time to come home.
I think perhaps the crystal memory that’s etched into my brain, though, is of Kid Two’s first Hallowe’en. She was two months shy of being three, wearing a burlap sewn costume that, when stuffed, resembled a big orange pumpkin. She wore a green toque and pants to finish off the look.
It was a warm evening on Penetang St. Kid One was out with a number of friends. Dad was home shelling out, so it was just Kid Two and I. We went to our immediate neighbours, Reg and Norma. They kindly took their time, commented on the pumpkin, and put a miniature bag of chips in her little sack.
She stared at them. She said thank you. And as we slowly made our way down their walk, she looked at me with surprise, sat down at the step to the sidewalk, opened the chips and slowly savoured every one. She was nearly three so this took quite some time.
And then she looked up at the night sky, at the twinkling stars that nodded back to her.
Two wonderments in one night.
This was a child for whom just dressing up was treat enough.
And on we went to see Audrey, our neighbour two up. Again the fondness and enthusiasm for their little neighbour. In a community whose kids were grown, our little ones drew extra attention and love. And after the conversation and guess-work, Audrey put a treat in Kid Two’s empty sack. Thank you! And down the walk we headed.
Again, this child looked at me in wonderment. She sat on the step at the sidewalk, opened the treat and slowly ate it all.
This happened one more time, at the home of Mary Pattenden. This time, our Pumpkin sat immediately on Mary’s porch, opened her treat and took its pleasure.
You may wonder why I didn’t urge her on, suggesting she save her treats and accumulate more.
Well, it was the stars, the night sky, the magic of the moment as a child was overcome by people’s kindness to her. How could I spoil such a moment!
We visited only three houses that first Hallowe’en. After that, the overwhelming darkness, the unique treat of the stars, the running past of other costumed, laughing children… well it was all too much. Kid Two was full and it was time to go home.
I’d like to tell you this lasted year after year. However, her brother soon filled her in on the other ‘magic’ of Hallowe’en and the following year was a little more accumulative.
But the 1986 magical mystery walk is etched there permanently; I revisit it every year. I thought you might enjoy it, too.
Thanks, Kid Two.