Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Thoughts on Halloween.

So we all survived Halloween, did we? We actually had no trick or treaters and are left with several bags of candy. Oh dear. Someone will just have to finish all those Kit Kats and Snickers, I suppose!

I'm always surprised by the number of kids who tell me that Halloween is their favorite holiday--over Christmas with all the presents and the tree, over 4th of July with the parades and fireworks, or Easter with the chocolate eggs.
I'm also surprised at the costumes they choose. I think my girls were always something sweet and adorable--princesses and fairies and maybe a good witch or two. But my little granddaughter Mary was a vampire, two years in a row. What's more, she was so convincing about it that her teacher had to ask her mother to speak to her about scaring the other children.
"They think she's a real vampire," the teacher said.
So Clare spoke to her and she agreed she wouldn't try to tell them she was a real vampire any more.
So guess what she told them?
She told them she was really a werewolf instead!

So is this the main reason that kids like Halloween? Not the candy? They love the power of being able to scare people, and feeling just a little scared themselves. Mary for the rest of the year is a sweet, well-behaved little girl (if a rather good actress).

But I'm also surprised at the number of adults who say they love Halloween. I suppose again it's the costumes, the taking on a character so different from our own--pretending to be evil, or sexy, or both. It's the one day nobody stops us if we act strangely or look even stranger.
But it's not for everyone. Especially not my husband John. The last time we went to a Halloween party he came up with the costume of an Englishman from the 1930s, wearing blazer, bow tie, yachting cap, white flannel trousers.  And what does he normally wear--blazer, sometimes bow tie, sometimes light trousers, sometimes even a yachting cap. And he thinks this is a costume???

You know how Halloween started, don't you? It's a Celtic festival that was adopted into the Christian calendar. It is the one night of the year when the door between the two worlds opened and the dead came among us. And people put on scary costumes--skeletons and ghosts--so that the dead would think they were one of their own and wouldn't take them to the otherworld with them.

Do you think they'd be convinced by a man in a bow tie and yachting cap? Probably not.

So do you still wear costumes at Halloween? If so, are you scary or sweet?


  1. No costume-donning here, but I suspect if I were to choose a costume to wear it would most definitely be the princess in the lovely gown.

    I love that your granddaughter was such a convincing vampire; unfortunately, children tend to lose that wonderful sense of magical imagination much too soon . . . .

  2. I'm not much of a costume person - not super creative. I'm very low key about Halloween. Now, Christmas, on the other hand. I'm all about Christmas. Heck, I was still the first person in my family awake on Christmas morning into my 30's.

  3. I LOVE costumes. Because I'm normally well-behaved (ahem, these days, anyway), I like to go as some variation on the slut theme. Short skirt, fishnets stockings, black boots, black wig, plunging neckline, a cigarette - you get the picture. Could be considered scary, actually... But I'm coming up short for the Crime Bake banquet this year - which is Saturday! Yikes.

    Love that story about your granddaughter, Rhys!

  4. Into your 30's Mark?? and they put up with that?

    Edith, funny the slut theme:). I wanted to come to the Saturday banquet with two friends, dressed as James Bond and 2 of his bond girls. We decided it would be hard to carry off LOL

    But I do love costumes. And luckily, there are lots of chances to wear them in Key West!

  5. My husband is so great a Halloween costumes and I am dreadful. He's a fabulous vampire. Also great as a pencil (bald head = eraser). My daughter made a fantastic Kermit costume for her daughter who then refused to wear it (after saying Kermit was who she wanted to be.) She wore her tutu and pink tights instead.

    I'm lousy at costumes. New England Crime Bake is next weekend and I'm afraid I'll the going to the banquet once again dressed as a mystery writer.

    Rhys you didn't tell us what you dress up as...

  6. I'm terrible at costumes, too. The best I did as a kid was a long skirt and beads and a headscarf for a gypsy fortune teller. For the Crime Bake English pub? Sandy and I have decided to come as "clueless American tourists" and call it good.


  7. I'm firmly in the "I really don't care about Halloween" camp. One holiday that if it fell off the calendar, I wouldn't really care. Don't like dressing up, don't like trying to think of something - way too stressful.

    Hallie, were I going to Crime Bake, you and I would both be going as mystery writers.

  8. I love seeing little kids in costumes--I am such a sucker for it! As for scary--that, I don;t understand. I would never be a scary thing, and I am always baffled when people dress u[ as zombies or other creepy things. Chacun a son gout.

    Crime Bake party…still thinking. but I have an idea. I have NO TIME though, so it's going to be cobbled together late Saturday afternoon! :-) .Jonathan is working in his --we shall see!

    Kathy Lynn Emerson, the clueless tourist is BRILLIANT!

  9. I'm so jealous that so many of you will be dressing up at Crimebake this weekend. Actually I love to dress up. When John went as a 1939s I went as my character, Lady Georgie. I'm either something funny or something nice. But never highly creative. At one party someone had a small table around his neck, a lampshade on his head , a pair of frilly panties on the table and went as a one night stand.

    The best costume in our family was when my grandson Sam was 6 months old. Clare went to a party as Harry Potter, carrying Sam as Dobby with a sock pinned to him (you have to have read the books)

  10. That's charming, Rhys. And John as a 1939 yachtsman, well, why not. Don't we costume daily for the events in our lives? Even if we don't think of it that way. I don't do dress up, haven't for years, but I have a friend who dons her belly dance costume yearly to answer the door to the trick or treaters and another decks her entire house out in Halloween decor, including the trick or treat bowl with the scary hand and the groaning welcome mat. She dresses as a witch, no surprise there. One year she had a huge spider rigged to drop down when the door opened, but it landed on a tall parent's head and he ripped it off it's bungee cord when he snatched it off his head. That item never did make a comeback.

    We don't get trick or treaters where we live now, but I loved seeing them in other places we lived. My favorite was a barely older than toddler old cowboy. His daddy stood at the end of the drive and let him come up and ring the bell. I used my best western accent and gave him his candy. He remained completely silent. I must have been his first house, because his father said, "Aren't you going to say thank you?" The little boy looked at me, I could see tears forming, back to his father and then back at me, finally he turned and took off down the driveway blubbering, "You told me not to talk to strangers." Poor kid, he was so confused. I wondered if he ever made it to a second house, or trick or treated again!

  11. Love, love, love Halloween, and have ten times as much decorative nonsense for All Hallow's Eve than for Christmas. We have had a biennial Halloween party since 2005--every year would most likely kill me, because I decorate every inch of the house, cook themed food, serve a signature cocktail, and dream up and make a couples costume for Steve and myself. Our friends have gotten to expect this level of enthusiasm, alas! But I really love all the hullabaloo.

    This year we were Batman and Spiderwoman, but we've been Snow White and Dopey, Jill Sparrow and her first mate, cowboy and cowgirl, witch and werewolf, vampire and "bitten" flapper, and our first-ever costume duo of Karamojo Bell (the Great White Hunter) and Faye Wray from King Kong. Steve loves it, too, and he's usually game for whatever costume idea I hand him. He even shaved his mustache to be Dopey.

    I'm rethinking my costume strategy, though. This year a friend said, "No matter what costume Karen wears, she still always looks like Snow White."

  12. I was a big hit as sweet Professor Sprout at the Harry Potter Halloween extravaganza -- but I was seated next to a rubber snake and a big spider, and occasionally -- I have to admit -- I moved the snake around and scared little kids!

    Had a wonderful time.

  13. I've never been all that great on Halloween decorations--the only thing I could dig up this year was a small ceramic jack-o-lantern that holds a tea light. My daughter and I sat on the front porch with a nice snacky spread for us and candy for the trick-or-treaters. (Only way to do it at our house with the two big, barky dogs. Kids ringing the doorbell does not make for a fun evening...) We only had two sets of trick-or-treaters, but it was still fun.

    Terrible at costumes, too, although I'd like dressing up if I could think of something really creative. Thinking for next year...

    Rhys, love your story about Clare and Sam as Dobby. Now that's creative!

  14. I think Professor Trelawney would be an easy costume-character to do. I like themed-costume parties the best--went as a bandaid one year to a M*A*S*H party.

  15. I love to dress up at Halloween for the office. Most of the time I'm the only one who does. This year I was The Death of Summer; I wore a garland of autumn leaves as though it was a shawl, a garland of orange berries (most people buy them to decorate wreaths) in my hair, some loose autumn leaf decorations in my hair, and spider earrings. Most people thought I was Autumn, which I expected. I then explained that autumn leaves are "dead" leaves, I love summer very much, and I miss it! On my desk there was a sign reading "R.I.P Sweet Summer", with autumn leaf stickers scattered about. All the decorations came from AC Moore, and are now being used to decorate at home!

    Other years I've been a walking spider web (lots of fun to put together, with that cottony webbing that people use to decorate for Halloween, lots of fake spiders on my desk, my spider earrings, etc); one year I as a person with her head in the clouds: I recycled the webbing, wore all blue clothing, moon and star earrings. I've also been Static Cling, a walking tag sale, a gypsy fortune teller, a cat burglar, a gym rat, etc.

  16. I've been enjoying others' costumes, though lately I've just worn Halloween t-shirts (Salem Witch Museum's "Come for a Spell") and earrings, and a bit of decor for the house.
    I told Halloween stories at a Friendship Village event, and my favorite there was a group of four flappers . . . very Phryne Fisher. They had forgotten how to do "bees' knees" but I remembered because my mom taught me, so I showed them. Fun!
    My great-niece and her friends did an absolutely perfect Addams Family, including a friend's young son as Cousin It.
    I dressed as Trelawny for the final H.P. book release party . . . might be time to look into costumes again. ;-)

  17. I got the perfect adult accessory for Hallowe'en many, many years ago in a vintage store - a full-length, hooded red wool cape. I wore it outdoors over skimpy costumes when I was a co-ed, I wore it over jeans and sweaters when taking my kids trick-or-treating, and if I go outside on All Hallows Eve, I wear it still (it also looks great at Christmas!)

    Next year I plan to go as An Author Who Has Finished Her Ninth Book And Is Working On Her Tenth.

  18. That is really exciting news, Julia!

  19. Having met your charming husband John, Rhys, I think he could pull off any character he chooses in whatever he is wearing. I think it's awesome that you went as Lady Georgie, too. And, I love your spunky granddaughter! My six-year-old granddaughter wore her Dorothy (from Oz) costume from her May dance recital to her school party, as they were told not to wear anything scary (I had gotten her a witch costume, which she did wear on Halloween). She probably would have mirrored your granddaughter's posture and told the kids she would turn them into toads.

    I love, love, love Halloween! I still have my Halloween decorations up in the foyer, as the grandgirls will be over this next weekend to spend the night, and they haven't seen them. (Got them up late due to painting and such in house.) I don't dress up unless I'm going to something, but I did wear my witch's hat Halloween night. And then there are the scary stories and scary movies to enjoy! I even watched Halloween I and II this year, although my favorite scary movie is The Shining. I enjoy short stories for reading at Halloween. Karen, it sounds like you do Halloween proud.

    And, Julia. I'm so excited about your costume next year! I will shower you with tons of candy next year at Bouchercon, which I'm hoping you will be attending with your book out.

  20. Phooey.
    I thought I posted a description of several joint costumes my husband and I have done.; But I don't see it.