Posts tagged ‘childhood’

Happy Halloween, Kids

My pumpkins are carved. Bags of candy have been purchased. And I’m heading up Grandview, down Thermon, up Clifton and Pennsylvania, through the wonderful neighborhood where I grew up.

Yeah, it’s a little stroll down memory lane.

A month or so before the big day, Mom would venture into the attic and bring down the costume supplies for my brother and sister and I to review. There were a couple of store-bought cardboard boxes (the ones with the pajama outfit and a plastic mask) and another big cardboard box that contained miscellaneous clothing and wigs and such. Some of the best bits over the years came from trunks my Dad had, which were filled with props used by The Jesters, a comic group he belonged to. I keep a similar box o’ stuff in my own attic now.

We’d sort out who wanted to be what, re-purposing the old things, and Mom making new things. My absolute favorite was a sort of Bedouin costume she made from scratch for me. Satin pantaloon pants and a top decorated with beads and sequins, completed with a headpiece and veil that left only my eyes showing.

Would that be considered politically incorrect these days? Would my pillowcase be subject to Xray inspection? I don’t know, but I have never, as child or adult, felt that pretty or that exotic—or that annoyed to wear a coat on Halloween night!

At the appointed time, we’d leave the house with my Dad and head four houses up to meet up with two of our friends and their Dad.

We’d start at their next-door neighbor’s house. Our Dads would have a beer with the gentleman who lived there, while the lady of the house pretended to guess who we were,  thoroughly oohing and awing over our costumes. As we left, our Dads would always hide one of the beer bottles in their yard or mailbox, the two of them snickering like school boys, the neighbor at his door, pretending it wasn’t funny.

There was another lady who made donuts on Halloween. And she didn’t just drop them in our bags; we went into the kitchen and sat down and had one with a glass of milk. Then, we were on our way again, ringing doorbells, hollering “Trick or Treat,” tugging and adjusting, and visiting friends around the block.

The traditions of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Birthdays, Valentines—they  change as we change, adapting so slowly into their more mature variations that we don’t notice as much. But Trick or Treating is, alas, something we grow too tall for.

These days it’s my turn to be the grown-up. To stand on the sidewalk while my niece and nephew go door to door or to turn on my porch light and listen for the happy tromp of footsteps.

As I look back, feeling a bit overly nostalgic, tugging at the awkward grown-up get-up I must wear, I have one of those moments of a-ha clarity about the talents, imaginations, creativity, humor, and priorities of two life preservers who wore their costumes so much better than I ever will.

Thanks Mom. Thanks Dad.

What was your favorite costume (or tradition) for Halloween when you were a kid?


October 31, 2010 at 8:42 am Leave a comment

The Best Mom in the World

Here is a very short list of wonderful Mom things.

1. My mom packed our lunches every day for school. And she’d leave little notes on the napkin.

2. When we were kids, she would make us (well, me and my sister only) a special Christmas dress every year.

3. Sit down family dinner–every night.

4. Georgie Girl and Galway Bay and a gazillion other piano tunes. She’d play. I’d sit beside her and sing along.  

5. She tucked us in at night: prayers, a story, and a kiss with a “Sweet dreams” or “Off to Lily White’s party” or “Shuffle off to Buffalo” or “Don’t let the bed bugs bite!”

6. She taught me how to cook, clean, sew, and iron. Not that the student has gone on to do great things, but I can handle that stuff when I need to thanks to her.

7. Her presentation of “the birds and the bees” was straightforward and loving. (And extra points for poise because it began one quiet day while we were merrily making a puzzle in the living room, and I blurted out, “Hey Mom, what does f— mean?”) (And I didn’t use the dashes that time.)

8. She taught me to walk, to talk, to wipe my bottom, to eat my veggies, to draw, to write my name, to hit a softball, to play volleyball, to put on eye shadow, to pick out a fancy dress, to waltz, to play Perquackey, to drive a car.

9. She taught me the joy to be found in simple things and the fun to be had spur of the moment. 

10. She taught us to be honest and fair. And to take responsibility for our actions.

11. She taught us to be resilient, grounded non-wimps—but she also had a great big shoulder, an understanding heart, and unquestionable love when the tragedies of childhood broke me.

12. She is still there for me. 

I could go on for days with examples and memories, but I need to stop now to prepare the house and plan a meal for Mother’s Day tomorrow.

(How she did this sort of thing on a daily basis, I will never know.)

One day doesn’t seem anywhere near a fair trade for the most giving person I know. All I can say is that I am grateful. And I know I am blessed. And I know, in at least one thing in life, I am the luckiest person in the world.

Happy Mother’s Day to my very first and most significant life preserver.

What makes your mom the Best Mom in the World?

May 8, 2010 at 4:19 am 1 comment

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