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Holiday Memories of YesterYear: Halloween

This is the first edition in a series in which I intend to relive and document holiday memories from my past in hopes they trigger a long-lost fond memory or maybe one of your very own.  What better way to start this off than with Halloween?  In this "Holiday Memories of YesterYear" series, I'll be posting a more stream-of-consciousness and haphazard style than my usual report-style historical article.

My parents often like to retell the story of my first or second Halloween.  I don't remember what I wore that year, as a matter of fact there are few costumes I even remember, but the part my parents enjoy telling is when it dawned on me that I was receiving candy by ringing someone's doorbell.  Soon, I was running away from my parents and pushing past my brother and the neighbor girl we used to Trick-Or-Treat with to get to the door first.  Speaking of costumes, some of the ones I do remember are a clown, an alien, Zorro, and Superman.  Most were all homemade by my Mom with a store-bought mask or something of that type.  One year I do remember it didn't matter what costume I wore because we had a cold snap and it was raining so my Mom and Dad made me wear a jacket over the costume and all I remember is my blue jacket.

I always liked Halloween decorations because orange is my favorite color.  I don't really like costume parties, so I was never the type that wanted to go to a Halloween party as a teenager or adult.  After middle school, the only time I dressed up for Halloween was when I was a sophomore in college.  I went to a long-time family friend's Halloween party as a French Maid.  Yep, just picture me, a 200-pound college athlete with a full beard and bright blue eye shadow and long blonde wig in a French Maid costume.  It's no wonder I won "Scariest Costume" that year.

I think I enjoy the decorations and TV specials more so than the actual holiday itself, especially now as an adult every time the doorbell rings with neighborhood kids I have to wrangle the barking dogs and get up from my easy chair to give them candy.  I have also always been a bit of a nervous nelly and don't really like going outside when it's dark out.  I think my Mother did a great job instilling fear in me that I'd be kidnapped or hit by a car if I did, and I can still remember this nagging "I need to get home soon" feeling while out Trick-Or-Treating.  I kinda still get that feeling when the sun goes down, even as an adult.

One of the more vivid memories I have of Halloween was in 1998.  Halloween was a Saturday that year, and I begged and pleaded with my Mom to drive me across town to Toys R Us.  She had worked all week and likely had better things to do on a Saturday morning, but she drove me anyway and allowed me to purchase WCW/NWO Revenge for Nintendo 64.  I played that game until the cartridge was about to melt.  I was such a wrestling fan and that game was a huge technological leap in terms of wrestling video games at the time.  With it being Halloween, I remember making sure I set every match I played that day to the Halloween Havoc background.  Speaking of Halloween Havoc, it's always been my favorite wrestling PPV.  I always loved the WCW-themed Pay-Per-Views like Spring Stampede or Road Wild, where they'd have a special stage and decorations, but Havoc was my favorite.  It combined several of my favorite things:  WCW, Halloween, the color orange, Snickers (and Las Vegas (the show would run out of the MGM Grand Garden Arena several years in a row).

Of course, one of the best things about Halloween is the candy.  Of course, you had the odd person who would give pennies or dimes, or my neighbors across the street handed out apples every year, but we always knew the houses that had better stuff.  Today I often buy candy in big bags at Costco so my wife and I graze on it through the month of October and hand out whats left but back in the day my Mom would buy stuff we didn't really like so that we didn't eat it before Halloween.  My Grandparents had the good stuff, though, and Granny would always slip me a Snickers in the days leading up to Halloween.  I do remember my Mom putting in a lot of effort for Halloween though.  She'd get little Halloween gift bags and throw in candies, ghost or pumpkin-shaped erasers, and other Halloween toys she got at the Dollar store.  My one neighbor every year made Tootsie Roll Pop ghosts, using a white napkin and a twist tie and drawing on the eyes and mouth in black marker.

I feel like people just don't put that kind of effort in anymore.

Speaking of effort, when I was in elementary school my parents put in a lot of effort for Halloween one year.  I'm not sure what got them in the mood, but that year, my Mom hosted a Halloween party for my brother and my friends from school.  We had games and prizes and food.  I don't remember much about it, but I do remember a "mummy wrapping" contest in the front yard where we paired off, and the fastest to wrap their partner in a roll of toilet paper won.  That same year my Dad built a Haunted House in our garage.  Using thick black tarps, he created a U-shaped path, complete with black lights, strobe lights, cobwebs, and other surprises.  The thing I most remember, though, is the box with a hole cut in the top.  Kids could stick their hands in and feel "brains," "eyes," and other gross things.  It was really just cooked spaghetti, gumballs, and things of that nature.

The last time I went out Trick-Or-Treating was that awkward time when it was about a year too late to realize I was too old.  It was 1999, and I was in 9th grade, and my friends and I didn't even bother with costumes.  I felt silly, and a few people made comments that we didn't have costumes or we were too old, and I decided that night when I went home that it was time to hang up the candy-collecting pillow case for good.

I hope some of my memories jolted something loose in your brain, and perhaps you remembered something you've long forgotten.  If not, I hope it's at least caused you to take time to remember the good moments of your childhood Halloween memories.  I think that's my favorite part about starting this blog.  The more I write or come up with ideas the more I remember about stuff I've long forgotten.

I look forward to the next edition of Holiday Memories of YesterYear:  Thanksgiving.