You can keep your costumes, your wax teeth, your funny nose and fake puke. You can keep the Mars Bars, Kandy Korn, popcorn balls, and healthful homemade treats that look great but taste like sludge.
You can keep all of it, because one Halloween I got the best treat ever. Her name was Yvonne.
I sat in my apartment that night watching TV, wondering if I would ever meet the woman of my dreams. It occurred to me that if it was going to happen, it probably wouldn’t be in my apartment or on TV.
I’d heard about a Halloween party at a local club—not my kind of place, and besides, I didn’t have a costume. But I wanted to meet someone, so I went.
There were clowns, witches, cartoon characters, and a nun with a handlebar mustache. Across the room, I saw someone wearing jeans and a sweater, and she saw me. I walked up to her.
“I like your costume,” I said. “You’re dressed as a normal person.”
She grinned. She joked. We danced. We talked and talked and talked. Years later, we’re still talking. In our house. With our daughter.
And every Halloween, we celebrate.
My most vivid Halloween memories are about making—never buying—my costume each year. My three sisters and I would compete to see who came up with the most creative idea. My mom was very talented at crafts and sewing, and she supervised in the early years. I remember one truly fantastic papier maché mouse head my mother made for my youngest sister.
As an adult, I continued the homemade costume tradition. Here’s a photo of my first attempt, definitely not up to my mom’s high standards. My then two-year-old daughter was supposed to be a bunny rabbit. Clearly an alien species of rabbit; I had some trouble with the head and ears. (I did get better as the years went by!) Welcoming neighborhood trick-or-treaters is still one of the high points of my year, and I keep an extra candy bar for anyone with a homemade costume.
Dressing up for Halloween was, and still is, my favorite part of the holiday. One year in particular I was so excited to get one of those prepackaged Barbie costumes (nothing like today’s costumes, mind you.) This beauty consisted of a terribly scratchy mask and a preprinted sheathlike plastic ball gown that made me feel—and smell—like a crayon. Needless to say my dream costume quickly became my most loathed costume. But that has never stopped me from dressing up. Instead, I became more creative and designed most of the costumes for my children and myself. Over the years the costumes have consisted of a Football Powder Puff, Shark Boy and Lava Girl, Thomas the Train, Batman’s Poison Ivy and my most recent and favorite, I dressed up as VMA’s Miley Cyrus. The more bizarre the costume, the better, I say. –Dana Elmendorf, author of South of Sunshine (publishing April 2016)
Sam and David wanted to be vampires. Thank goodness for Halloween, I thought as we drove from California to our new home in Texas with Sam, 6, David, 4 and Josh, 1 in the back seats. To distract the boys from everything we were leaving behind, we talked about how quickly we could make the look happen when we arrived the morning of Oct. 31. (Josh’s main contribution was to spit up, which meant he was going to inherit the old pumpkin sleeper that had been worn by his brothers.) We dropped off our things at our new apartment and hit the ground running, seeking capes, white make-up and plastic pumpkins for candy. Over dinner, I read their new favorite book, Matt Novak’s Pete and Ghost, about a boy who finds a friendly ghost in his new house. And then, trick or treat! They ran from decorated house to house, gathering treats and, even better, smiles from the new kids that would become their best friends.
–Nancy Churnin, author of The William Hoy Story (publishing March 2016)
Is my son a zombie? It is possible. Here are the top five reasons why I think he might be: 5) He answers questions with a blank stare; 4) He’s good with directions. Have you noticed zombies always know which way to go? 3) My son played baseball as a kid and now works for a baseball team. Zombies never give up either; 2) He has lots of friends – zombies hate to be alone; and number 1) My son likes ripped shirts and old pants. If that doesn’t scream zombie – what does? So as another Halloween approaches, I’ll be thinking of my wonderful zombie and all the fun we used to have.
–Cheryl Lawton Malone, author of Dario and the Whale (publishing March 2016)