My family tradition was that Halloween costumes were not discussed until after my mother’s birthday on October 21st. The ten days between the ‘holidays’ were a blur of flannel and thread. All our costumes were hand sewn by mom. Like a Cinderella story, the day after Halloween, the costumes transformed into pajamas. A few weeks later, we would identify small patches of those costumes turned pajamas in patchwork quilts constructed by our grandmother and delivered to our stockings. I’m confident that four decades later, at least one of those quilts survives in my living room basket of quilts (not blankets, an important distinction.) I was never clear what contract Santa had with my grandmother to furnish quilts to the world’s children.
Some of my earliest Halloween memories include trick or treating with my oldest friend, Maggie Brown. There is some debate among another of Maggie’s friends regarding who got to the friendship table first. After years of museum work, Maggie is now the executive director of an animal aid organization in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’m sure I was the Super Man to her Wonder Woman one year.
This past weekend I traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota, to attend the wedding of my friend Becca Merck, now Schindler. Becca and many of her siblings attended my former college. Her family has become cherished friends, and I have been blessed to be included in many of their celebrations. Among the wedding guests were dozens of former students and their young families. Many children were in attendance, so many in fact, there was a ‘child’s menu’ buffet line. This is a genius idea, people. I imagine many children I met on Saturday will find awe and wonder in their Halloween traditions today.
Our Target friends wore costumes to the office on Friday. There were witches, ghosts, and the Pembrooke House ladies, who all came as minions. Even a vivid violet crayon joined the ranks. Each friend bubbled over, discussing plans for the weekend and holiday Monday. Pumpkin painting contests, parties, and strategies for handing out candy were discussed with glee. I plan to make the rounds between group homes this afternoon to get in on some fun.
Our lives are built around traditions. Some of those traditions live within our families. Almost no one understands why I am moved to great anger at the thought of Halloween candy being sold before the 22nd of October. I can’t even talk about it. Or why a worn patchwork quilt holds so much emotion. These layers of tradition make our lives much richer and sweeter.
Enjoy the day, friends. May your gaze fall on the awe and wonder in the air tonight! And to all the moms whose fingers are sore from the sewing: you deserve to pilfer most of the chocolate from the plastic jack-o-lantern heavy with treats. Save me the peanut M&M’s.