Today is Halloween. And I will be running costume-clad kiddos to and from school and dealing with the consequences of a prolonged sugar high. I will be holding tiny hands of a poodle and a princess, going door to door along my childhood block, uttering age-old parental phrases: Take just one. Say thank you. I will be shifting a wide-eyed leopard from hip to hip. Her first Halloween.
But I will also be remembering. Because for many years, many good years, I was a kid on this day. And I dressed up and got excited and hoarded candy. For some reason, either profound or perfunctory - I cannot readily tell - this holiday holds immense meaning for me. Maybe it's because it happens in fall, my very favorite season. Or maybe because I was forever a fan of the one-day-identity-shift, becoming someone else, something else, for a short snippet of happy time. Maybe it's because of the candy. I've always loved candy and as a kid I wasn't allowed to eat it except for on this day. (Ha.)
I suspect it is all of these things and much more. I think it has something to do with family, with tradition. I remember sitting with my sisters and Mom and Dad, hunched over soggy sheets of The New York Times, carving big misshapen pumpkins into spooky creatures who would sit in the windows of our second floor. I remember that haunting Humpback whale music Dad would play on that one night every year, how it would drift through the darkened halls of our home. I remember Mom's chili. The big vat of cozy chili she whipped up every year for our friends on the block. How we all ate it eagerly, mixing in sour cream and onions. I remember that curmudgeonly neighbor who would give us only apples, or pennies, or one year, a toothbrush. And I remember the aftermath of a night of trick-or-treating. My friends, sisters, and I on the floor of our big bedroom, spreading our loot over patches of carpet, making trades, making ourselves sick.
And I remember, of course, the costumes. There was Rainbow Brite, a referee, a Yale football player. In college, the costumes became a little less involved - the Cat in the Hat in black, a Rorschach ink blot (think: all black, bizarre movements). And, most meaningfully perhaps, was Larrietta Birdetta in fifth grade. I wore a long curly blond wig and my beloved Larry Bird jersey. Sexy, no?
And now. Here we are again. On this day.
And I come at this day from a different place, with a different lens. Today I am a mom. I will snap pictures of little happy creatures in costume. I will negotiate candy consumption. I will shepherd little ones through this big day.
But I will also eat chili. And some candy. And I will remember.
I will also look around, do my best to give close attention despite the assured chaos, and realize that memories are being made today, and tonight. That, one day, my little girls will be big like I am, caught in that exquisite place beyond childhood, that place stuffed with memories, and moments, and all around magic.
Happy Halloween, all. Make good memories.
Do you have any particular memories of this holiday? What are your kids dressing as tonight? Are you dressing up? Anyone else psyched for the candy?