I grew up on movies with Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, and Vincent Price. I loved Maria Ouspenskaya (she played the old Gypsy fortune teller in two Wolf Man movies).
These movies were terrifying in their day, although far removed from real life. Nothing like what passes for horror movies today. I have no interest in movies like “Saw” or “Chucky” or “Nightmare on Elm Street.” None whatsoever. There’s enough real-life horror on the evening news.
As a kid, I usually was Dracula. I learned the hard way several ways to NOT make my face whiter, and it wasn’t until adulthood that I had access to theatrical makeup and such. I’m sure I was a laughable vampire, and I’m thankful no photos exist to prove that.
For most of us, Halloween provides a harmless opportunity to take on another character for a few hours and to have some fun. It could be an extreme of our own personality, or it could be the opposite. Or it might be something inanimate and without personality altogether. (I won a costume contest one year as a matrioshka, stacking Russian doll.)
Each year, people get more creative and daring with their costumes and makeup. And funny. Some of these get-ups are a real scream (pun intended).
When not taken to extreme, it’s a lot of fun. And here in the heartland, we’re much less likely to go overboard into the realm of the inappropriate.
If you’ve ever tried to explain the American Halloween tradition to someone from another culture, you’ll instantly agree that it is something very odd and fairly unique in the world.
Think of it.
You dress up young children, even babies, as funny, scary or grotesque creatures and send them around the neighborhood to beg for candy from strangers on Halloween night.
The holiday has evolved, to be sure. Who would have thought even 50 years ago that we’d spend millions of dollars on special Halloween candy, and even more on packaged costumes. And don’t forget all the decorations too.
Let’s hear it for the simple, homemade versions. The family working several evenings to make costumes, and Halloween treats like caramel apples and popcorn balls. I’m encouraged by what I’m seeing so far, with a return to family time and down-home traditions.
Can’t wait to see what will be wandering around the neighborhood tonight!
Here’s to a happy and safe Halloween!
One last thought: with big-box stores now competing to start Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving Day itself, I say “stop the madness.” I don’t shop Black Friday anyway; no deal is so necessary that I go through that ordeal. And I certainly won’t be shopping on Thanksgiving Day, anywhere. Let those who work in retail stores spend time with their families, too. Just say “no.” Wait until Friday. Or, even better yet, keep your money closer to home and shop local! It’s never too late for new, simpler traditions.