I really only have one stand-out memory of Halloween trick-or-treating. Most of my memories are before (getting excited & dressing up) or after (splitting and trading candy). There was only one year that stands out.
I was six or seven. I’d have to look through my mother’s photo-collection (she labels by year) to figure out. Mom made my Halloween costume every year and this year she made me my very own pink princess dress. But, with 2 siblings she ran short on time and didn’t have a chance to hem it before we started getting ready. I don’t think she seriously considered skipping the dress, but I remember begging to wear it anyway and promising I would be super-duper careful. I wouldn’t run or anything that might make me catch on the dress and fall down or rip it. I wore my pink princess dress and carried my bag for candy “just like a big girl.”
We would go to a big neighborhood near us where we all had some friends. The parents would stay at the bottom of the street while the herd of children made their way to the candy. Sometimes this meant knocking or ringing a bell. A lot of families hung out outside or left a bowl on the front porch – no asking necessary. One house in the neighborhood always decked their garage out into a mini-horror house. I don’t know if this year was “haunted house” or “mad scientist’s workshop” – those are the two setups I remember from the years we went through there.
The year of my pink princess dress we walked up to a house where everyone was sitting on the porch, admiring our costumes and being friendly. They had their bowl of candy sitting on the lap of a scarecrow propped on a bale of hay. I remember reaching for candy when that scarecrow moved. I don’t remember clearly if he said “boo” or “ahh” but whatever jump move he did scared me. I ran all the way down the driveway to my daddy.
The adults thought it was hilarious. I can look back on it now and laugh. At the time, I remember being terrified, embarrassed, and very upset. I remember thinking, “I promised I wouldn’t run….” and being infinitely relieved I hadn’t ripped my pink princess dress. I refused to go get candy from the scarecrow. I remember him bringing it down the driveway so I could have a piece and I refused to reach out and take it.
I can’t really remember any other childhood Halloweens. Now, I can’t help but wonder if I would remember that pink princess dress if I hadn’t been scared so thoroughly. All told, the tension, the moment of panic, the adrenaline makes the whole night more memorable.