A Step by Step Guide…
Halloween in the 70s
1. Two weeks before Halloween bring the small box of Halloween decorations up from the basement. Scotch tape the two dimensional, cardboard skeleton to the front door. Open up the crepe paper honeycomb pumpkin and put it on an end table in the living room next to the gigantic, iron eagle lamp. Dump a bag of candy corn in an amber glass candy dish. Done. Smoke a cigarette and let the kids watch Creature Feature on the TV set all afternoon to get in the mood.
2. One week before Halloween grab a pumpkin at the supermarket when you run in to get cube steaks.
3. Check the TV Guide to make sure the kids don’t miss “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” when it’s on. Let them have the Swanson TV dinners in the little tins on TV trays in the den as a special treat that night.
4. Go to the town drug store down on Main Street to pick up supplies. Get a big bag of Smarties and Tootsie Rolls, film for the Kodak and some flash cubes, and let the youngest kids pick out a costume in a box – basically a flimsy plastic rain poncho with a picture of their favorite character on the front and a mask with minuscule eyeholes and a teeny slit for a mouth to (somewhat) breathe out of. They’ll probably choose something like Wonder Woman, Holly Hobbie, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Bullwinkle, Wilma Flintstone, Mighty Mouse, or Dom DeLuise. Possibly Vinnie Barbarino from “Welcome Back Kotter.” Or you know, maybe a cute, happy, clown. Everyone loves clowns.
5. Allow the older children to come up with their own costumes. Let them rummage through the attic for ideas. Possible options are: use the old rubber mask that you’ve had for fifteen years and wear one of dad’s flannel shirts and be something vaguely scary, or take an old sheet and cut some holes and be a ghost. They will go as a bum, a gypsy, and someone will throw an Afghan over their shoulders along with the sombrero that Grandma brought back from her cruise to Puerto Vallarta, and call that a costume.
6. Bake some homemade (Duncan Hines) cupcakes for the class Halloween party and make bright orange frosting by mixing red and yellow food coloring right in the can. Top with a Brach’s Mellowcreme Pumpkin. Deliver the cupcakes to the class party, enjoy the kids’ costume parade through the school, then go have a Virginia Slim with the other moms on the playground (no dads are there).
7. The night before Halloween, let Dad carve the pumpkin with the children. Cover the dinette set in the kitchen with newspaper and give him a butcher knife to make triangles for a nose and eyes. Have a Tab and watch “Laverne and Shirley” until it’s time to clean up. Toss all of the seeds because no one ever eats them anyway. Leave the jack o lantern inside because this is Mischief Night.
8. Halloween Morning, survey the Mischief Night damage. You got off easy with a light toilet papering of the shrubs in the front yard. There are several smashed pumpkins in the street, and some egged Chevrolets. Your El Camino and the Duster next door are clean. The house that got hit the worst belongs to the weird family on the corner who, instead of Three Musketeers bars, hands out creepy comic books about trick or treaters going to Hell.
9. Halloween evening. After an early dinner, turn the porch light on, light a candle in the jack ‘o’ lantern and put it on the front stoop. Tell the children to get into their costumes themselves and hurry up because their cousins are on their way over (on foot) and it’s important to get to the house across the road where they hand out McDonalds gift certificates. Those things go fast now that everyone’s in on the secret.
10. When the cousins arrive, bundle your brood within an inch of their lives. So what if you can’t see their costumes, they’ve still got masks. It’s freezing out there. There may even be flurries. They will all throw fits about their coats covering their costumes. Ignore them.
11. Give the kids some old pillowcases for their candy and don’t forget their Unicef boxes. Hand them a flashlight from the garage and turn them loose. They will inevitably complain about the house on the corner that hands out raisins and toothbrushes. You understand though. Who does something like that? (People who watch PBS.) All the other neighbors are fine. Tell the kids to get you an extra rice krispie treat from Mrs. Allen. Hers are the best.
12. Hand out candy to all the trick or treaters. It seems like there are at least a hundred. Every year there are more. Thank heavens you got an extra bag of Dum Dums and Bazooka.
13. When the kids get back, quickly scan their candy to make sure it’s okay, knowing this is ridiculous because you know all of your neighbors. You are secretly excited about all the homemade treats and the McDonalds gift certificates because you can go get those crispy, bubbly, deep fried apple pies tomorrow. Steal a couple Snickers.
14. Throw out ALL of the Necco Wafers and Sugar Daddies. These are disgusting. Take snapshots of the kids smoking candy cigarettes. Send everyone to bed with the rest of their candy.
1. September 1st. Pumpkin Spice is upon us. Buy pumpkin spice coffee, coffee creamer, candles, air freshener, pumpkin butter, pumpkin bread, pumpkin kale chips, pumpkin spice gluten free granola, pumpkin spice Pringles, pumpkin spiced oreos, and tampons.
2. Redecorate your entire house with fall wreaths, decorative gourds, wicker pumpkins, all things orange and brown and rustic, and be sure to remember as many pieces of wood with inspirational quotes about harvest and family and gratitude painted on them as possible.
3. October 1st – begin important research into acceptable Halloween costumes free of cultural appropriation, micro-aggressions, and anything that may, in any possible way, cause anyone to feel even slightly uncomfortable about anything. Scour Etsy for cute felt animal costumes that look very twee and somewhat vaguely Scandinavian. No, your toddler can’t go as Chase from Paw Patrol because people have been seriously traumatized by dog attacks and many people have phobias of dogs and may be triggered.
4. Fail utterly at convincing your eleven year old daughter not to pick a “cat” outfit that looks exactly like a feline prostitute, complete with fishnet thigh-highs and a bustier because “ALL HER FRIENDS’ COSTUMES HAVE GARTER BELTS, MO-OM.” Well, maybe this is because she has a healthy body image and will grow up to be a sex positive woman.
5. Paint a teal pumpkin and buy non-food treats. Spend $87.00 on organic, locally grown boxes of raisins, and toothbrushes made from recycled yoga mats. Candy is out of the question. What kind of a monster would give kids candy?
6. Pray that your four-year-old son’s witch costume is not offensive to actual Wiccans, because Samhain is a very important holy day in their religion and people’s belief systems should not be objectified and reduced down to caricatures. The whole broom and pointy hat thing is an unfair stereotype, as is the green skin. Call your own mother and ask how one year she actually let you go as a Roma woman, because they are an oppressed European minority. She has no idea what you’re talking about.
7. Receive robo-call from your daughter’s school RE: URGENT CLOWN THREAT. The school is on lockdown because scary clowns. No one panic now.
8. Plan pumpkin patch visit. Pack family in car in coordinated plaid, earth-toned outfits, drive over an hour away, fight the hoardes of PSL fueled maniacs for a parking space. Stage informal, spontaneous (not really) photoshoot in the pumpkin patch with 400 other identical families doing the exact same thing, and then spend $135.00 on biodynamically grown pumpkins and a bushel of heirloom apples. Post 27 pumpkin photos on Instagram. Come home to find that everyone has an itchy rash from the hayride. Put arnica on it. #itsworthitfortheciderslushies
9. Buy expensive pumpkin carving kit with Dremel tool, stencils, and templates. Let the children watch as you spend four hours masterfully etching a complicated Halloween scene into the pumpkin’s flesh per something you saw on Pinterest. After fifteen minutes they get bored and disappear into their rooms to watch Charlie Brown on their iPads. Save all the pumpkin seeds to roast via the recipe you saw on Epicurious.
10. Dip elaborately carved pumpkin into bleach solution that you read about online in desperate attempt to preserve your masterpiece until Halloween. Place LED candle inside. Put on front step to find that the next morning it has been eaten by opossums.
11. Try desperately to get the kids to watch Hocus Pocus with you. Feel heartbreak when they don’t “get it.” Come on, there’s a talking cat! How can they not love the Sanderson Sisters?
12. No one liked the Epicurious pumpkin seed recipe. It was like eating tear dropped shaped bits of cardboard sprinkled with cinnamon.
13. No, your son cannot watch Halloween on Netflix. This movie attaches a stigma to mental illness, a serious condition that doesn’t actually cause people to wear weird masks and go on mass stabbing sprees. Michael Myers was a character that needed compassion and understanding, and a team of good medical professionals and holistic healers. Reiki could’ve totally saved Haddonfield, Illinois.
14. Receive note home from kids’ school that explains there will be an “Autumn Harvest Celebration” the week before Halloween, but that it must, under no circumstances, contain any references to actual Halloween. There will be no costumes or costume parade, and all treats for the classroom must be store-bought and individually wrapped and cannot be in the shape of ghosts, Goddess forbid.
15. Buy personalized, artisan-crafted, wicker, trick or treat baskets for the children on Etsy.
16. Mischief Night? Huh? That doesn’t sound very mindful.
17. Wonder why you feel like that mom in The Babadook. Post something on Facebook about how tired you are and how much coffee you need.
18. Halloween afternoon: Take the children trick or treating at Whole Foods so they can fill their artisan wicker baskets with free samples of vitamin drink mix, pumpkin quinoa chips, Mayan spiced pepitas, vegan gummies, and 70% cacao, free trade, dark chocolate, which everyone knows children love. Feel bad and buy them sunbutter cups and hibiscus iced tea.
19. Realize you were so busy that you forgot to dress up. Your Halloween costume is officially the gold butterfly sparkle Snapchat filter. Change all your social media profile pics to a butterfly head selfie. This is fine because you look more attractive, are more interesting, and lead a richer life online anyway.
20. Relent when the entire family revolts and demands to trick or treat for actual candy. Explain that trick or treating is an unsafe activity, that you will not let them knock on strangers’ doors in the dark because we have no idea who our neighbors are, and even if we did know them, there are too many people leading double lives these days, so you can never really know anyone, so, fine we are going to the mall.
21. Joylessly trick or treat at the mall. Live Tweet your frustration as this turns into an epic battle to keep your youngest away from Build a Bear and your eleven year old in her “cat” costume out of Justice.
22. Get home before sunset. Attempt to get everyone to eat gluten-free, butternut squash and sage tortellini.
23. Meticulously inspect each piece of candy your children received from the mall because you can never be too sure about those girls that work at Pottery Barn. Find zero razor blades. Hand each child one cream soda Dum Dum because they seem like they have less food dyes.
24. Turn on the porch light, put out the terra cotta jack o lantern from Hearthstone, along with the teal pumpkin, listen to an Indie Halloween playlist on Apple Music, and wait for trick or treaters.
25. Three hours later – There was only one trick or treater and he appeared to be about twenty-three and was wearing a suit. Oh wait, he wasn’t trick or treating. He wanted to talk about some kind of religion. Give him all the raisins and toothbrushes anyway. Make him take them.
26. Bust out the Switch Witch. She needs all that garbage candy the kids got at the mall to heat her house or some BS. The kids look dubious, but you convince them to give up their Swedish Fish, Warheads, Sour Patch Kids, and Pretzel M & Ms anyway because the Switch Witch will leave them some toys in exchange.
27. Once the kids go to bed, eat ALL the Pretzel M & Ms. Throw the candy in the outside trash where no one will find it and leave the children a bunch of trinkets from Dollar Tree knowing full well they will hate you for this in the morning.
28. The next day – Relief. Now you can start getting ready for Thanksgiving.
Happy Halloween Everyone! May your October 31st be free of refined sugar and micro-aggressions.
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