Many years ago I was five years old. My older brother, then nine, was in charge of me on Halloween night. Our two younger brothers were already in bed. Dad was working second shift. Mom was asleep, over-medicated for epilepsy. She was awakened early the next year by a very nice doctor and correctly medicated, but that night she couldn’t be roused.
In kindergarten that day I’d made a jack-o-lantern out of orange construction paper. Nothing fancy, in fact mine was barely recognizeable, but I brought it home with a folded-over baggie of potato chips inside of it and I was proud. My brother said it was neat. He set it on the kitchen table where it waited for an adult to appreciate it.
Mom and Dad hadn’t bought candy. My brother mentioned that to me. Not really to me, but in passing. I didn’t know why anyone was supposed to have bought candy until kids in costumes started knocking at the door asking for it. My brother politely shooed them away and pulled me back from the window where I stood amazed at the cowboys and princesses running around in my neighborhood. He turned off the lights and all seemed well by candlelight at the kitchen table until someone pounded at the door. My brother thought it sounded urgent so he answered it.
The sound scared me. I didn’t follow behind him. I was content to sit at the kitchen table and gaze upon my orange creation. I heard harsh words. I got up and peered around the corner. There were four big kids at the door. I don’t really remember how big. Bigger than my brother. They didn’t look like cowboys or anything. They wanted candy and they weren’t going to leave until they got some.
My brother scrambled for things to give them. He found some cookies and crackers. A half a loaf of bread. No matter what he gave them they weren’t happy. I walked up behind my brother and handed over my orange creation with the baggie of potato chips inside of it. I remember feeling scared but angry.
The biggest kid took the baggie of chips out of the middle. He crushed the construction paper in his hand and threw it on the ground. He finally left and the others followed. My brother shut the door, locked it, and turned on the TV real loud. He didn’t answer any more knocks. Dad came home shortly after that. He turned the TV down and put us to bed.
The week after that the same big kids beat my brother up at school and I had to remember my own way home to tell Mom what had happened but she was asleep and he came in not too long after that anyway. The next year Mom bought all of us costumes. I was a princess but I didn’t wear the mask because it made my face sweat. My brother was a cowboy. We trick-or-treated behind Mom and our younger brothers. My brother wore his costume every day Mom would let him. And he always held my hand tightly when we walked home from school.
Many years later I sit here reading the headlines of articles about the evils of Halloween, how it glorifies satanic things and promotes the dark side. People send me petitions to sign calling for a ban on school parties, wearing costumes, and trick-or-treating. I don’t sign the petitions and I skip over the articles.
Instead I go to my kids’ classes to pass out decorated cupcakes and show them how to make orange creations. I tell them a story about a Halloween when I was little, how four monsters came to my house to steal our goodies and my brother the cowboy shot bolts of orange lightning from his pistol, zapping the goodies right out of the monster’s hands sending them running away screaming. The kids laugh and giggle, relieved at the happy ending.
I don’t have anything against Halloween. I figure it’s silly for adults to fight evil only one day a year.