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Sunday, October 31, 2010


It used to be my favorite holiday. Christmas couldn't hold a candle to it.

One year I saved a large appliance box and it became a "shoe" for The Old Woman (me). "So many Children" (dolls) peeped through cut out windows and swung from the eaves. I won first prize in the costume contest.

I was a ballerina, a gypsy, a cat, a ragdoll, the Snow Queen (my year of being enthralled with Hans Christian Anderson--no one had a clue who I was--I was assumed to be some sort of glittering ghost), a hobo, and of course, a witch. All my costumes were designed by me...

...and made by my mom.

She would always tell me my costume couldn't be made in the way I conceived it; then she would make the impossible happen. Halloween is inextricably entwined with my mother.

My mother has always loved Halloween. She carved pumpkins, read us special spooky stories, made caramel apples, hosted parties, and took us trick-or-treating. She also made taffy or some other specialty candy each year. And she dressed up. I don't remember her characters, but I remember being in awe of her ability with make-up.

And after my twelfth year, I stopped celebrating Halloween in the same way. I didn't wear a costume again, ever. I wouldn't attend parties. I said the holiday was stupid.

When my children came, I tried to enjoy Halloween with them, but their costumes were usually purchased on clearance the year before, any parties they went to were hosted by their schools, and Darrin took them trick-or-treating.

This year, as always, I will not wear a costume. We've made no special plans for celebration. I have a rehearsal tonight.

However, this year is different. For the first time since thirteen-year-old Samantha began the process of blocking out anything connected with her mother, I am remembering. I'm remembering my mom sewing a blue tutu for her three-year-old ballerina; spending hours spray-painting, and cutting, and taping, and gluing a box into a shoe; stuffing a cat's tail and pinning it to my behind (reminding me not to swing it too hard or I might lose it); painstakingly putting green paint and blackened eyes on my face as I wiggled and sighed and wished for the make-up session to end; helping me learn to pull taffy; reading my favorite scary poem for the thousandth time; sorting through my candy to be certain it was safe...

And through it all, I remember her laughing, happy, clearly enjoying herself. I remember loving her.

My mom has continued to celebrate Halloween each year. Her celebration was smaller last year, and this year, as she has battled breast cancer and recovered from two bouts of chemotherapy. But she still puts out her decorations, wears her Halloween sweat shirts, and fills her enormous Halloween basket with candy (most of which she will eat, herself).

Someday, maybe I will celebrate again, and I will remember without tears.

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