friday feast: hallowhine

Bah humbug!

Oops, wrong holiday.

I have such mixed feelings about Halloween. Blame it on my candy conundrum. Or my pumpkin problem. (Why do I keep alliterating? Somebody, stop me.)

While most people are happily carving pumpkins, passing out candy, dressing up in cool costumes, or gorging on treats, I’m trying really hard not to dwell on the “traumatic Halloween incident.”  *Sniff*

Oh, it’s quite pitiful, alright. I don’t know if you could bear it. Otherwise I’d tell it to you right now.

What’s that? You want to hear it?

You’re begging me to tell it? Well, if you insist . . .

Mind you, this is the most vivid memory of Halloween I have from childhood. One year, when I was in fifth grade, my parents had someplace to go, so they dropped my brother and me off at my grandmother’s house. 

Back then, few kids in Hawai’i over the age of eleven or twelve went trick-or-treating. So, the plan was to help Grandma pass out candy, which was fine by me. Early on, things went quite well. I enjoyed seeing the cute costumes, and didn’t envy the other kids one bit. I felt I was “too grown up” to trick-or-treat.

But we started to worry when the kids kept coming, swarming like ants out of the woodwork. “Oh no! We’re running out of candy!” Grandma didn’t drive, and it was too dark for us to walk to the store.

Then my brother had another one of his brilliant ideas. “Jama, go out and trick-or-treat. Then we can pass out whatever candy you get!” 

“But I don’t have a costume.”

“You don’t need one. I can make you a mask.”

He got a brown paper bag and cut out holes for my eyes and mouth. He put the bag over my head.

“I’m not wearing this!”

“You have to.”

“No, it’s stupid!”

Grandma, who wasn’t adverse to the idea, didn’t say anything. She might have thought we were playing a game.

I tore the bag off my head. “Why do I have to be the one to go? Why don’t you go?”

“I’m not going. You’re younger than me. It wouldn’t look as silly if you went.”

We obviously couldn’t argue much longer, since we were down to four pieces of candy. I was so mad! Okay, I had to go. So I went out, without that silly paper bag on my head. I was wearing a red muumuu. I was sure I was the biggest kid ever in the history of the world to go trick-or-treating.

I followed a pack of kids going up the street. “Hey, girl, where’s your mask?” They jeered and hollered. And laughed. I went up to the first door, barely able to mutter, “trick-or-treat.” My face burned with humiliation. The lady gave me a strange look. How I wish I had kept the bag on my head so she couldn’t see my tears.

House after house, more and more shame. Most people were kind, but some did ask why I didn’t have a costume. Some even pitied me. Without a costume, I was simply begging. I finally returned to Grandma’s with a good sized haul.

We gave out a few pieces, but by then it was late, and nobody else came. I had actually gone out for nothing. When my parents came to pick us up, Grandma told us to take the candy with us. I couldn’t, and didn’t want to, eat any of it.

So that’s what haunts me every Halloween. Far better to remember happier times, like when Len and I dressed up as Adam or Eve, or building a haunted house with my church youth group. What was your most memorable Halloween?

Oh, where are my manners? I haven’t even offered you a treat. Here’s my favorite pumpkin poem. My feeling is that pumpkins are too pretty to carve.


by Carl Sandburg


I SPOT the hills
with yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o’-lantern
with terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.

For a list of 100 Pumpkins, including books, crafts, recipes, and other fun stuff, visit Sherry at Semicolon. Really awesome!

And I couldn’t let you get away without one teeny tiny trick. Hee :)!

The roundup today is at Sylvia Vardell’s Poetry for Children.

Have a spooktacular evening!!


24 thoughts on “friday feast: hallowhine

  1. Mean big brothers! If I’d have known you, I would have gone with you.
    My teen still loves to go. I tell her you’re too old for trick or treating when you get offered a babysitting job when you’re out ringing doorbells for candy. She ended up babysitting for that family a few times. 🙂


  2. Aw thanks, Jenny! These days, lots of teens still love to trick-or-treat. Good for your daughter getting the babysitting jobs — she must be good at self promotion!


  3. Awww, I don’t blame you for being traumatized and angry over that. If you run out of candy, you just turn your porch light off and kids skip your house – simple as that! I hope someday you can find (or create) a fun Halloween event/tradition to help ease the sting of the past.
    I went trick-or-treating into my early teen years, and never thought anything of it. On the other hand, now that I’m an adult, it does seem strange to see anyone middle-school or up come by.
    Love the Bush/chimp comparison, btw. 😀


  4. Halloween, etc.
    “Theme in Yellow” is a favorite of mine. It’s one of the poems I shared with my elementary students every year at Halloween.
    I’m leaving today for the Keene State College Children’s Literature Festival in New Hampshire. I think this is the first time I won’t be at home to see all the little trick-or-treaters.
    Have a spooky evening!


  5. I don’t know why we never thought of turning off the light. But if we had, I wouldn’t have this story to tell today. It’s great for garnering sympathy ;)!
    Those Georges do have much in common, don’t they?


  6. Memories like that can be no fun, but as I read your story I was warmed by your sense of family and humor. It seems that maybe you were able to turn your discomfort into a happy memory after all? It is also a good opportunity to parent your inner child and help her feel better.
    Happy Halloween and thanks for all of your wonderful posts!


  7. Appreciate your thoughtful and insightful comment! Yes, I guess I do need to parent my inner child. She’s the one who knows all the stories, and prompts me to write them down. Have a very Happy Halloween!


  8. That is a really sad story! Try to remember a happier halloween – you must have had a time when you got a better experience, no? Focus on that one!
    LOL I don’t like Halloween myself very much. Too much sugar + excitment + scary stuff. I’d rather hide under the covers and eat my own chocolate. But that would be scrooge-like, wouldn’t it?


  9. The only other childhood Halloween memory that stands out is the year I wore a Little Lulu costume. She was my idol and I loved the mask!
    I can’t get into all the scary stuff either. The best part is seeing little kids dressed up and all excited.


  10. Funny, now that I think about it more, I always overbuy when it comes to Halloween candy, and during 30 years of marriage, we’ve never run out. Could be I’m trying to overcompensate now. We tend to not like the idea of turning off the lights, since it might encourage more mischief.


  11. Cool!
    Love the Sandburg poem and ALL your images, graphics, and photographs! Amazing visuals! Thanks for participating in Poetry Friday at PoetryforChildren this Halloween! Stop by any time…


  12. Awww, you poor kid! How is it that terrible, humiliating times make such great stories? I guess because we’ve all been there, in one way or another. I’m only sorry it’s spoiled Halloween for you forever!


  13. I wouldn’t say it’s spoiled it forever — as I mentioned, there are some good memories, too. The past will always inform the future, but it doesn’t have to spoil it.


  14. Oh dear. What a painful memory. I hope you can feel sorry for the little girl you and let her go, knowing that she did the best she could under the circumstances.


  15. Thanks for reminding me of one of my fondest Halloween memories — my church youth group making a haunted house for the younger youth group. Not that we had to do much work. It was in a deserted, run-down farm house at the end of a track in the middle of a dusty open farm field. Just being out there in the dark was enough scare for ALL of us!


  16. Oh, that sounded like fun. You had a much better setting than we did — we tried to convert preschool classrooms into a haunted house using big cardboard boxes, etc.


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