Vintage Halloween!

(all photos from the vintage halloween flickr group)

When I was little, Halloween was my favorite holiday, and my family went all out. The preparations began early in our house; the lavish decorations came out of storage in the attic 2 weeks before the 31st, and for those 2 weeks I prepared gleefully for the night of candy, carousing, and costuming amongst the synthetic cobwebs, paper bats, and trash bag-ghosties my siblings and I draped from floor to ceiling. In retrospect, my love for Halloween seems entirely logical: it combined crafts, food, staying up late into the night, and the celebratory pomp and escapism of a day entirely devoted to being anyone but yourself. My costumes were almost always homemade; one particularly memorable Halloween when I was 10 or 11, I decided, after much careful consideration, to transform into a deity I invented and dubbed "The Queen of the Night". We went to the fabric store and picked out a beautiful black tulle, flecked with tiny silvery dots, and a legnth of silver sequins. We attatched the tulle and sequins to an old black dance leotard from my tap-dancing days, found an old cloak of my dad's, frizzed my hair into a spectacular orb, which floated around my face, painted with blue and silver moons. That night, the Queen reigned supreme, gliding swiftly through dark air that smelled like no other night of the year: smoky sweet from the roasted pumpkins lit on the doorsteps, punctuated with wild, delighted screams, and the rustling of bags and fabric.

I overstayed my welcome on celebrating Halloween, going trick-or-treating until I was 15; my last year I was outfitted as a "grunge", with sprayed-on neon orange hair, a clip-on nose ring from Claire's in the mall, old ripped pants, combat boots, my dad's "x-rayted" skeleton t shirt and a plaid. I can still remember the wary looks of some people that came to the door, to whom, I realized too late, I looked like an teengager who hadn't bothered to dress up and was raking the neighborhood for a share of candy spoils.

This Halloween, I will know my place. I will carve a modest-sized pumpkin and put out a candy bowl with good candies, none of that tootsie roll stuff. And I won't put one of those "Take ONLY ONE!'' signs, either. It's Halloween. Take as many as you can carry, while you still can.

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