A Contribution by Lorelei Bell, author of Vampire Ascending. For more information, see her Facebook Page and her section on this website.
Breath-taking golds and reds that evokes long ago memories come around this time of year for me. The season breaks down the mental barriers of reality which hides those mystical places, called memories, in my head. Memories of when I was a child excited about Halloween, and everything about it. I never could understand why adults didn’t decorate a lot more, and get all dressed up too—back then. Remember the wax lips, mustaches (which tasted of licorice), and vampire teeth? I think my favorite were those orange Pan whistles that sounded awesome! They still make them, but are hard to find.
But decorations were nothing like they are now. Oh, sure, we had the plastic pumpkins that were for candy collecting. I still have those, and a few cool candles (one is a skull with a candle on the dome of its head), from my earlier years. But the paper skeletons are long gone. I should buy new ones. They still make them look like the old ones of my childhood with the movable joints.
But back in the ’60′s and even the ’70′s they hardly had much to decorate with. Some houses barely decorated, as I recall. A lit jack-o-lantern or two in the yard or on the porch, a few paper decorations hung in windows was about all you saw. And the costumes were sometimes home made. Witch’s hats were made of plastic. I remember one nasty witch mask I wore belonged to my older sister, who was way too old to trick-or-treat. It was made of rubber.
I recall the one time when we went up to a small house trick-or-treating in our little town and a woman in a cat costume answered the door. Complete with the ears, tail and whiskers! I thought this was magnificent! A party seemed to be going on inside. I kept wondering why other adults didn’t get into this the way I did. It would have made the whole experience worth my while. I just didn’t understand why adults couldn’t make their houses more spooky.
When I was in high school, too old to dress up and trick-or-treat, I wanted to have a party, and my father rented the town hall. In the basement we set up a “haunted house”, including a cauldron with dry ice, and my friend dressed up as a witch. I made a large bat and hung him from the rafters. We played a tape of some strange, haunted sounds. I think we had a maze. My father had suggested we should have charged something for people to come in because a number of people gaped in through the door, curious, and wanted to come in.
The year after that, someone did put up a haunted house in the same place! I can claim that I was the first one to have a haunted house in our small town. It was about time, because other towns had them too. But it doesn’t matter. I was happy to see that people all around finally got into the season like I did. Think about it. You dress up as someone, or something else. Possibly your alter ego—so they say. For a few hours you can get out of your own skin and allow your fantasy to play out for one night.
Of course now Halloween is a big business. It’s up there with Christmas the way people buy lawn ornaments, or a whole freaking cemetery complete with fog machines, scary noises coming from speakers, ghouls, ghosts, and skeletons, complete with a light show. Martha Stewart’s magazines, and shows give you the how-to instructions, and she has her own line of decorations for the holiday.
So, there’s no excuse to not decorate! I get my decorations up end of September, I’m so into the season, and hate to take them down in November. I usually buy more decorations at the end of the season and can’t wait to put them up next year.
THE SABRINA STRONG SERIES by LORELEI BELL