As I kid, I remember that every Halloween I was sick. I always had a sore throat and my plastic masks were always filled with snot because I refused to miss out on the free candy. Although my family was poor, we lived in a pretty good middle class neighborhood and sometimes people would give out whole regular size Hershey’s bars. Seriously, I was a nine year old sugar addict and there was no way I was going to miss my opportunity to become an adult diabetic.


I have three glimpses of Halloween memories I would like to share with you today.


The first was when I was real little. I was E.T. for Halloween so this must have been like ’83 or ’84. I can’t remember the year, I just remember that it was a gorgeous fall day and I had a high fever. I was wearing a plastic E.T. mask with a string that wrapped around my head and snapped off within the first couple of houses. I recall wearing this horrific plastic gray in the front and yellow on the sides and back raincoat type trash bag thing. For those of you who missed out on these plastic costumes, I feel bad for you. My mom forced my dad take me out to Trick or Treat (aka get candy) even though I was snotty and feverish. He wasn’t too pleased. It could have been because I was sick, but I think it had more to do with the fact that he just didn’t want to parade around the neighborhood. I used to think it was because of me, but I now understand that it was because of how he was feeling about himself and he went with me because he did love me (in his way).


I have one last image of this day. I was standing at the front of someone’s driveway and I was really sick. I was swaying and I was biting on the inside of my mask to keep it from falling off and also so I could breath. I remember getting a tissue out and trying to wipe my drippy nose and my dad telling me that it was time to go home. I kept thinking that I had a whole other side of the street and how could I possibly go home? My memory fades and I can’t see anymore from that day.


The second Halloween, I was in 9th grade and my friends and I thought this was the last time we could go out for free candy. We dressed at my friend Jen’s house as Hobos and walked around her neighborhood getting free candy. We were in the marching band at school (I will pause for laughter) and we had practice that night. So, we trick or treated until it was time for us to go to practice. We arrived at school in our Hobo outfits and pillowcases full of candy. I recall we got some looks that day. I am sure people were just jealous.


The last Halloween I remember was the last Halloween my mom was alive. We had just moved to Mt. Laurel and my friends were all back in Pennsauken. I use the term friends lightly here because I feel like if they were my friends, they would have been there for me the whole time and not when my mother was dead.


Anyhow, I was sitting at home and it was a free Disney weekend. I was of course sick and I wasn’t really in the mood to get up out of the chair and look for the remote to change the channel. So, I was seventeen years old and watching the Disney channel. I remember watching this cartoon version of the Legend of Sleepy Hallow. I fell in love that day with the legend and now every Halloween I will watch some version of it on TV.


I also remember watching that dumb slasher movie with the villain wearing the elongated skeleton mask. I am not being coy; I really can’t remember the title to the film. Anyhow, I had just finished watching the movie when I knock came to the door. I grabbed the candy bowl and just opened it without thinking. There on my deck starring back at me was a boy dressed in the costume of the villain in the movie I just watched. I screamed like a little girl and then I composed myself and told him I just finished watching his work and how much candy did he want?


I have always loved Halloween and the fall. I don’t know when we all became so cynical and stopped going door to door for treats. Now kids run around the mall asking mall employees for candy because people think that is safer. The safest thing is to not let your kid go out at all. Just buy them a bag of their favorite candy and let them stay home playing video games. Who needs to spend some time in the fall crisp air?


The world hasn’t changed. We have changed. Now we have names and labels for things that have been around since humans walked the earth. We are more cautious now and I think that puts us at a great disadvantage. Sure, I only have three Halloween memories, but the overall feeling I get from the holiday is joy. It could be the sugar high, but still, I smile when I think of walking around my neighborhood with my dad, my sister, and my friends. We would compare what candy we got from which house and we would tell each other what house was giving the whole Hershey bars. In high school, I loved answering the door when the kids came asking for candy. I would sit outside and just greet them with my candy bowl. I would smile because I had once been where they were now and I would remember how happy it made me feel just walking around during a beautiful fall day and getting candy. It was the one-day of the year everyone in the neighborhood seemed happy and worked as a team.


You can’t get that kind of feeling at a mall.