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I was born in love with Halloween.

One of my favorite memories is the smell of dry leaves on a cold night, my flashlight shining, running up to my neighbor’s porches with anticipation. There was a kind of magic to Halloween, you could be whoever you wanted to be, and that was very appealing to my six year old self. I was a strange child, there was no doubt about that. I was permanently attached to my older sister, had a loud voice and an overly excited personality. My favorite animal was spiders, and I truly believed in every monster I’d ever heard of. Needless to say, I did not make friends easily. The idea of change, of becoming something powerful and strong was a dream come true. That year Halloween saved me.

I loved dressing up in costumes, which was a big change from my normal “clothes are evil and we should all be naked 24/7” mindset. As I look back I can tell you the exact point that I started picking costumes for myself. I went from Simba and Mickey Mouse to a witch and a spider queen. As I got older I took on a more interesting strategy. I would go into the store and pick out what I liked, then I would build a costume around that. It usually had something to do with glitter and spiders.

      My mother was a loving, but strange woman. She believed in everything from ghosts to witches, and instead of telling me vampires weren't real she hung garlic from my bed frame to ease my nightmares. She would make bread and sponge candy, filling the whole apartment with the smell of slightly burnt sugar. She always made sure we had everything we needed Halloween night. 

Every year we would get dressed up as a family, my sisters would get me ready, and everyone would gather at our tiny third floor apartment. It was full of excitement and laughter, crowded and chaotic, a happy time full of love and candy. We would go trick or treating, then come home and trade our loot. My sisters always got me to trade all my good candy, but I didn’t mind. I wasn’t allowed to have more than one piece a day anyway, and I always got all the gummy life savers.

October has always symbolized change to me. In New England the whole world changes color from bright green to orange and red fire. The temperature drops and summer fades from view. October is all about changes, and that is the most frightening thing about it to me now. My mother died on October 14, 1997 from an unknown heart condition. I woke up to a nightmare, my mother was gone, I was separated from my sisters who had a different father, and my entire world was disintegrating around me. The only thing that snapped me out of my confusion and heartbreak, was Halloween. 

That year I went into my aunt’s bathroom, put on my costume, and went trick or treating. Two weeks after the most traumatic experience of my young life, when I had lost everything, at least I still had Halloween. It was just me trick or treating that year, and there was no one to trade candy with. My costume was thrown together last minute, but that year I got to eat as much candy as I wanted. I drowned my sorrows the only way a child can, in Reese’s cups and pixie sticks. I think that was the day I subconsciously decided to be the person I wanted to be. I couldn’t actually be a spider queen, a vampire, or a witch, but I could be strong, I could go on, and I was going to be okay. 

Halloween is just another holiday to most people, but for me it’s a connection to a mother I hardly got to know. In my mind I can see owls on the walls, cinnamon sticks in a cup on the stove, and pumpkins on the table. I remember her making lollipops and sponge candy, and burning my fingers because I was always too impatient to wait for them to cool. I see her in a full cape and pentagram necklace, handing me my favorite gummy lifesavers. Although life has given me more than enough reasons to hate October, I just can’t seem to, every year I celebrate all month long. Because I was born in love with Halloween, and it was the best gift she ever gave me.

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AngelOtter Posted on Oct 18, 2015 at 02:12 PM

Thank you. I was lucky to have a family that helped and supported me. I can't even imagine having to deal with the looks from other parents when my aunt allowed me to wear my halloween costume to school for a week.
It seems to me that life likes to give and take, and all we can do is be thankful for what we are given.

I will also have to look into finding that bucket, thanks for the information :)

NLogan Posted on Oct 15, 2015 at 09:04 PM

Oh and by the way the blow mold skull trick-or-treat bucket in the first photo is made by Renzi and they are fairly easy to come by.

NLogan Posted on Oct 15, 2015 at 09:02 PM

Loved the personal pictures and memories of your mom and your Halloweens of the past. I still believe in the magic of Halloween and the fun of becoming anything for one night. I am glad that Halloween was there to save you when you needed it most.

Vaporman87 Posted on Oct 15, 2015 at 07:20 PM

Okay so, I'm going to be up front and confess that I am pretty sure this is the first article I have read here that brought a little moisture to my eyes. I can't imagine losing a parent at such a young age, then having to face that and the holiday that really brought you both so much joy all at once every year thereafter. That you treat it more like a celebration of those times instead of a time to mourn is honorable and amazing.

I can't know what you went through, but I too lost my mother in late October (actually the day after my wedding anniversary). So celebrating our anniversary and mourning the death of my mom are almost inseparable. But in the end both days are really a celebration of love. Love gained and love lost.

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