We had no neighbors when I was a child, no one to trick or treat. But the country school that my siblings and I attended had a parade for all the little goblins of the area.
About 150 farm children donned old sheets, handmade masks and grandpa's worn hats, to march around the old wood-planked structure. The principal watched as we paraded past parents and teachers, and then selected a few witches or rodeo stars for candy prizes.
Mom made our costumes from scrapes of cloth; and one year, I was the Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe. She cut up a cardboard box, painted it with brown shoe polish, and sat it in an old red wagon. She dressed me in a blue bonnet and long dress—both of which she also made. My dolls and those of my sisters lined the wagon bed, and I marched proudly with the other country kids, pulling my imaginary family. And, that year, I got an award.
Mom is now almost ninety years young; she is frail but active. I don’t know if she remembers that special Halloween; but every year, I think about it. I remember the dolls peeking through the windows in the cardboard shoe, I remember struggling with the rusty wagon over the grassy path, and I remember the white cotton balls tucked into my bonnet so that I might appear old. I felt special that day—Mom made it so.
When I think of Halloween, I always think of her. And I wonder, with seven unruly kids, how did she find the time to make costumes for us all? Perhaps she was the Old Woman in a Shoe. Was I, for just a few hours, my mom?
Do you remember the rhyme? It goes like this:
There was an old woman
Who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children,
She didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth
And a big slice of bread,
Kissed them all soundly
And sent them to bed. (Mother Goose Version)
When you think back to when you were a child, do you have a favorite Halloween memory? Does it include your mom? Time changes our perspective or at least offers a context, doesn't it?