Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Art of Surviving Halloween

Readership is down.  Prairie Eydie is panicky.  I keep assuring her that she is still valued.  "Your personal worth is not measured by your blog view numbers, " I tell her.  "Romania and Indonesia still love you."   Besides, it is the day before Halloween. Judging by what I have seen in the stores, this is becoming the premier crap holiday of the year.  It takes time to buy and display all of that crap--time that has to come from somewhere--perhaps Prairie Grlz blog reading time.

The grandkidlettes stayed overnight on Saturday.  MaeLi is 7 and David is 5.  The minute they walked into the house, they wanted to know 1.) if they could do a little quality control testing on my Halloween candy, 2.) where were the decorations, and 3.) why those pumpkins on the front steps didn't have faces. 

I am a Halloween failure.  There was no candy, the decorations were still hiding in the basement, and I was enjoying the pristine blank canvas of those pumpkins that could easily slip into festive Thanksgiving decor in a couple of weeks. 

To be honest, I have never really liked this holiday.  When I was about David's age, I was terrified to say, "Trick or treat."  My brother or sister would take me around the neighborhood, and I would stand before each door as a silent specter.  I was certain that the words wouldn't come out right.  Yes, I was one hot mess of anxiety.  I remember that one man dangled a 5 cent (that was no "fun size" in 1960) Butterfinger in front of me and said, "You can have it if you say the magic words." However, "please" was not what he was asking for, and I just turned and left without the goods.
The costumes are OK, as long as they don't have any fake blood or masks.  I have never been terribly comfortable with masks or scary.  As a result of my staunch stand, my daughters were forced into a childhood of puppies, kitties, butterflies, and bumblebees.  A skunk was perhaps my most daring concession to Halloween costumery, descented of course.  On Sunday my grandson told me, "Grandma, it is ok for grownups to wear costumes sometimes, especially if they hand out candy."  I told him that I was wearing my "happy grandma" costume, and no, he wasn't getting a Snickers for breakfast.  

We always had one big pumpkin when I was growing up, and my dad was the official carver.  I don't think he had any special artistic talent, but he was the most likely not to lose any fingers.  My brother had a rather nasty run in with a knife on a camping trip when he was quite young, and he was never quite trusted with anything sharper than a Popsicle stick ever again. I guess my parents looked at my obvious lack of grace as a sign that perhaps it was best to keep sharp implements out of my hands as well.  My sister was in college, so who knows what she was up to.  She did pierce her own ears without incurring a frontal lobotomy, so I guess she inherited some ability from Dad.

I use to beg for a happy face on that pumpkin, and my brother would equally beg for the slasher special.  Because my father really appreciated a good night's sleep, and couldn't get it with a sniveling, frightened child in his bed, my face usually won out.  I still only put happy faces on my pumpkins.

Back to this week-end.  I did feel a bit guilty that I hadn't done a thing to prepare for the 31st for my grandchildren's sake other than purchase two violently orange cupcakes at the grocery, so  I dug out the box marked "Halloween" from the basement shelves and let the two have at it.  They found the puppy ears, the butterfly antenna, the kitty tail, and a variety of ancient plastic crap my daughters had once deemed worthy of saving. They played for a couple of hours trying on various costume combinations and trying to scare each other with very non-scary materials.

Today I will trudge off to the store and try to find some union-produced candy to dole out.  I suspect that all that will be left will be those nasty peanut butter taffy things in the black and orange wrappers.  Those are always the least desired treat---really more of a trick, if you think about it.  I'll probably sacrifice one of my homegrown pumpkins to the knife so that my front step will be adequately adorned.  Rest assured, that pumpkin will be smiling.  Silent specters always get candy at my house.  No "trick or treat" is necessary.

Prairie Sherry         

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