Tracey’s Tricks and Treats

While I can’t honestly say that Halloween is my favorite holiday (sorry, but Christmas will always hold that candle), I have always loved it ever since I was little, so I thought that today I would share some memories of Halloweens past.

A large part of that love for this holiday is, of course, the candy. I can remember when I was little that we would get sacks of treats. The houses in my town were pretty close together, so you could get to a lot of them very quickly. People also seemed to give out better stuff back then (though that might just be my memory being nostalgic and my current self being cynical). To top it all off, there were no curfews on Halloween back then (or at least, it was so late that it was never really an issue), so we would be out for hours, hitting every house in town and winding up with enough candy to kill a kid. I remember that my best friend and I used to do a kind of figure-eight through town so that halfway through the night we would end up back at my house. We would dump our candy (which by then was an absolutely disgusting amount), grab new bags, and head out for round two.

One of the Halloweens that I remember the clearest from my childhood was one when my bestie and I were still pretty young – young enough to need a parent to take us around. Her stepfather took us that year, along with her younger sister, and by the time we made it halfway through town and back to my house, her stepdad was several years closer to death. You see, cans of pop must have been on an excellent sale that year because every second house seemed to be giving them out. It didn’t take long before my friend and her sister and I couldn’t carry our bags anymore, so stepdad carried them for us. By the time he got the opportunity to drop off what we’d collected thus far he must have been lugging about eighty pounds on his back whilst trekking through town after three kids. I remember afterward, when I was going through my candy, I tried to fit as many of those cans of pop in my parents’ fridge as I could. I filled both crisper drawers and half a shelf, plus put a bunch on the door of the fridge, and there was still a bunch left.

I had a few store-bought costumes throughout my Halloween history, but my mother concocted quite a few of them on her own as well. Some were from the patterns you buy at a store, like the year I was a pointy-hat-wearing clown with funny felt dots all over me. Others were less creative and more…horrifying, for the wrong reasons. One year in particular I hadn’t yet chosen a costume myself, and my mother kinda forgot about Halloween until it was too late to start anything complicated. I eventually ended up convincing my parents to buy this Arabian Nights-style dancer outfit for me, but there was no way that I could wear it during our chilly Halloween night (the damn thing was a belly-shirt, for Pete’s sake!) The end result of our combined procrastination was that at the last minute my mother bought an orange garbage bag – the kind with a jack-o-lantern face on it that you’re meant to stuff with leaves and put out in your yard – cut arms and leg holes in it, and stuffed it full of crumpled newspaper to make it round. For her part, it was some quick thinking, but I nearly denounced my relationship to her that night. The costume was annoying as hell to walk around in, and by the end of the night all the crumpled newspaper had worked its way down around my rear end so that I looked more like a holiday squash than a pumpkin.

Another Halloween, one of the last that I went out because I was getting older, my two friends and I took a long route around areas of town that we didn’t normally go to because it was a really long walk. Just when we were as far away from any of our houses as we could possibly be while still being physically in the same town, it began to rain…a lot. This was before the days of young kids having cellphones (in fact, I think this was even before my dad got his first cellphone), so we had no way of calling for a pickup. We had to walk all the way back to my house in the rain. We were actually pretty cheery about it, all things considered, but the detail that I recall that really made the night for me was that all the mascara and eye makeup that I was wearing (I was a vampire that year and I went all out) ran so much that it got in my mouth. I almost threw up before we managed to get in out of the weather.

The very last Halloween that I ever went out, I went with a group of friends from high school. We were way too old to be trick-or-treating, but we thought, screw it, and went on our merry way around a small town where the houses are very far apart. It took us twice as long to get through the night as it ever had any other year, but we came out of it like thieves. As it turned out, the majority of the people who lived in this particular town saw very few kids on Halloween (remember, the houses were quite far apart), and as a result they gave out majorly nice goodies. I recall one house in particular that was way up on the top of a hill on a dead-end road; that guy was giving out big brown paper bags packed with goodies, and since it was near the end of the night by the time we got to him, he gave us each two. Another older woman had a giant bowl full of random stuff and just kept tossing huge handfuls of it at all of us. It may have been the biggest haul I’d ever gathered, and I can’t honestly say that I didn’t feel a little bit dirty about that, given that I was 16 at the time.

In later years my husband (then boyfriend) and I tried to be fun and cute, dressing up to give out candy, but over the years we’ve never had a lot of luck. We’ve always manged to live in areas where very few kids bothered to tread, so our efforts were generally in vain. But we always had one or two kids whose nights were made that much better by our playfulness. One year I made hubby into Goku from Dragonball Z, and the few kids who came to our apartment were flabbergasted. Unfortunately the pictures from that Halloween were lost on a bad hard drive, but another year we dressed up as Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees…
hallo.ween07 035-1…and there were definitely a few kids who fell in love with us that night. We eventually stopped dressing up, but we’ve always continued our tradition of giving out super-packed treat bags since we always get so few kids overall. I’ve heard more than one “Wow!” in my candy-distributing days, and I can’t say that those moments don’t make me smile like a fool.

These days my Halloweens are, of course, more focused on my daughter than anything else. We still make up great treat bags for the kids who make it to our door, and the hubby has taken to actually decorating the house (though that seems to be a tradition that’s gone by the wayside around these parts), but of course the important thing is the little missy’s costume. Before her first Halloween my husband suggested that I make her costumes from scratch, and to be honest I thought he was insane (a seamstress I am not), but it’s been a lot of fun so far.

20121021-050342.jpg10. October02I’ve gotten to use her as a canvas for our insanity, and next year she will be old enough to actually understand Halloween and tell me what she wants to be. Until then, however…we’ve got one more bout of retro fun to inflict upon our poor child…
Whoever knows who she is gets a virtual Halloween cookie. ^_~

Happy Halloween everybody!

NaNoWriMo and Baby Elves

The “101” posts are going to be cut off short this turnaround because I was unable to get them written and scheduled ahead of time and now my attention is being snagged by a couple of fairly significant things that happen to pop up at this time of year.

First, we are now less than 9 full days till the beginning of National Novel Writing Month 2012. For those who have never heard of NaNoWriMo, it is a yearly challenge that occurs in November (although these days there are similar events during almost every month of the year) wherein thousands and thousands of people (no joke, there were over 70,000 people online on the forums this morning) attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. That’s approximately 1667 words a day. It is a difficult challenge, especially if you have a job/school/kids/other things that demand your time and attention. Sometimes it can be downright miserable. But it is also a ton of fun, a ton of motivation, and an incredible learning experience. The manuscript I’m currently working on editing started as a NaNoWriMo novel, and lots of previous NaNoWriMo participants have had their novels published. But if nothing else comes out of it, the feeling of crossing the finish line and being able to say you wrote 50,000 words in 30 days is paramount to running a mental marathon. I’ll be participating this year for the fifth year in a row, even though my current work schedule may very well prevent me from winning. If I don’t reach my 50,000 words it will be the first time I’ve “lost” NaNoWriMo, but I still want to make the attempt because I’ll feel like more of a loser if I don’t even try! If anyone else is participating, feel free to look me up; my username is Toreshi. If you aren’t participating, or if you haven’t decided yet, I definitely suggest you go to the NaNoWriMo website and look around for a while. Trust me, it’s totally worth it!

The other “fairly significant thing” that pops up at this time of year is a little thing you may have heard of called Halloween. Although I’ve noticed over the past few years that this spooky holiday is not nearly what it used to be, my husband and I are still big fans. Normally (i.e. when I’m not spending half the month in a camp in Northern Alberta), we watch a different horror movie every night of October, and on Halloween night, since we don’t get a whole lot of Trick or Treaters, we give out fistfuls of candy and chocolate to the kids who do show up. But a new tradition that only started last year, at the suggestion of my husband, is for me to make my daughter’s costume. Now lets get something straight…I am not a seamstress. I took a sewing course for kids when I was young, but it wasn’t exactly my thing and the most I’ve really done since is to close up small tears in my and my husbands clothes. So when he first suggested I make the baby’s Halloween costume (last year was her first Halloween), at first I balked. But in the end, since I was laid off at the time and had lots of time to work at it, I gave it a go. We chose a figure from our childhoods to dress her up as and I did a lot of thinking, planning, and cursing, and eventually created this:


A million points to anyone who knows who she’s supposed to be. 🙂

This year I had a tough decision to make because due to my work schedule (it all comes down to that, doesn’t it?) I wouldn’t have nearly as much time to work on the baby’s costume. To make matters worse, it was only a few days before I flew out that we realized that the playgroup Halloween party is scheduled for only one day after I fly home. In other words, if she was going to have a costume in time for the party, I was going to have to work on it while out West. Luckily I was able to get crafty with some cheap, plain clothing and a pair of rain boots she already had, but there’s still a bit of work to be done over the next couple of days… I assure you, it will be worth it. It’s not set together yet, so it looks a bit lopsided, but here’s a hint:

Didn’t I tell you it would be worth it? So you’ll forgive me if I just wander over here for a little while, right? *wanders away from the computer and slaves over a hot sewing needle*