As the weather has finally shifted in the desert to cooler nights, we accept autumn with gratitude. That wasn't the case when I was growing up in Elgin, Illinois. More often than not, our Halloween costumes had to be partially covered by coats and, the accompanying parent (until we were in junior high) was holding an umbrella to shield us from the chilling rain.
But we'd bundle up with the certainty that on McCleane Avenue, the "rich folks" offered full sized candy bars on silver trays and even the blue collar homes such as ours on McClure Avenue, might surprise a trick or treater with a paper bag of a junior-sized Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, packet of candy corn and a red apple. My dad would take great pride in assembling (and he was a factory working) fifty bags like that in our basement and my sister and I would be part of the team to put the bags together before he'd tightly twist them closed and stack them in a Gromer's Grocery bag to sit by the door on Halloween night. Soon after sunset, the doorbell would start ringing and go on long past the last bag was given out. Latecomers got apples and whatever candy we had in the refrigerator.
I carried his tradition with me for awhile to Tucson, but once our little guy came along, Halloween night was busy with costume prep for school and for Mark taking him out to hit the neighborhood houses. Exhausted from the drama of getting things ready, I would rely on prepackaged handouts and, sometimes, add a fresh pumpkin cookie for the more familiar neighbors.
These days, we don't seem to get very many children at our door, though the middle and high schoolers seem to prowl past 8 p.m. I know times are changing and this holiday is as much about adult fright nights as it is for children. Nevertheless, I like to imagine grandeur vision of the portal opening between us, the living, and the emerging dead souls, welcoming what for us in Tucson, has become a multi-day and night celebration of All Souls Procession and the traditional Mexican Day of the Dead.
So booo to you out there...
(cookies are by Janice Ward as featured in Edible Baja Arizona magazine).