I LOVE halloween, and who doesn’t, really? As someone who has lived in 3 of the 6 New England states and considers themselves as a true blue New Englander, it feels like my duty to hold this, the hallowest of days, in high regard.
This time of year we see lots of Halloween articles, lots of “fall is the best!” articles, and while it is fun to regale in lists of “best pumpkin treats!”, this is not quite one of those articles. To be completely honest with you, dear reader, I’m here to brag, and tell you the tale of a moderately sized Catholic family that rocked a little town’s Halloween, year after year.
I grew up in Salem, no not that Salem. I grew up in Salem, New Hampshire, which a forlorn 6 year old me learned is about 45 miles north of THAT Salem. While not the Halloween Mecca its sister’s is, Halloween was still some serious business. The whole town got into it. And while my parents have never been ones to “keep up with the Jones”, we did however, bring it on like the proverbial Donkey Kong this time of year.
You have a Jack O’Lantern in your yard? Cute. We had dozens (my parents record is a coffee and cannoli fueled 40 carved pumpkins in the yard). You left out a bowl of fun sized for those kiddies? We were the coveted "full bar house". You put up some decorations? WE HAD SO MUCH COTTON WEBBING UP YOU COULDN’T GET INTO THE HOUSE. Well that might be an exaggeration, but honestly not by much.
But Dear Reader, what was my family’s true strong suit, you may wonder? Costumes. My mother was the coco channel of felt and a glue guns. She made every costume we wore until we were old enough to pretend we didn’t want to get dressed up for Halloween. To this day, I don’t know where a mother of 4 and full time nurse found time to make, not only her children’s costumes, but 3 of her nieces and nephews as well.
In our small town, the public high school had a costume contest every year, and every year for just under a decade, our family swept every age range. BUT, I was the diva who ran this show. In my very (at the time) short life, I’d never experienced taking less than first prize for the 8 years I was eligible to participate.
What may you ask, was I dressed as? Everything… EVERYTHING. Flounder from The Little Mermaid? Definitely . A glamorous princess in a custom royal purple rhinestone studded gown with matching wand and hat? Certainly. What about the spooktacular classics? Vampires, mummies, witches? check. check. check. I won as a ghost, A GHOST. Not just your run of the mill sheet with eye holes. Oh no. A sizable yardage of pristine white felt doused in iridescent glitters that trailed behind me, like ectoplasm, as I glided across those basketball courts in front of the crowds. Eye and mouth holes outlined with glow in the dark glitter glue, with “BOO” carefully scrawled in glistening puffy paint on my cheek. But the pièce de résistance, was my carousel horse. My mother cleverly crafted a horse, in which the part of hind legs, were played by my very own gams, and the ballerina who sat upon the horse? Why, legs were mere stocking’s stuffed with cotton. It was stunning, and took home not one but 2 first places, for my age range, and overall best costume.
Every year I looked forward to the attention, showmanship, and pride of the costume contest. Little did I know, there was an age limit, a reality that hit me harder than a Nascar driving taking an accidental right turn. My Halloween word crumbled before my feet. At least I had the sultry prize winnings of some free movie tickets and a bag of candy to pad the landing.