Fall has always been my favorite time of year, not due to the splendor of the colorful foliage, the crisp breezes heralding a new season, or the savory scents of autumn that inspire us to get our pumpkin-spice freak on. Instead, what I love most about the fall is that it kicks off a series of beloved holidays in quick succession, giving me an excuse to ingest my own body weight in pie. These indulgent celebrations begin with glorious Halloween, an event illuminated by jack-o-lanterns and awash in corn syrup.
My parents always went out of their way to make holidays like Halloween memorable events for me and my big brother. On Halloween night, Dad would take us trick-or-treating throughout the greater East Texas area as we happily sweated like feral piglets and risked asphyxiation in those 1970s plastic sensory deprivation Halloween masks with the rubber band. And to this day, Mom and Dad still cap off Halloween night with a special feast of chili dogs and Frito pie–because nothing complements a gutful of candy corn and Snickers bars like a hearty serving of processed meats.
As my brother and I grew older, overdosing on nougat was no longer enough of a thrill for our pubescent systems on Halloween, so our thoughts naturally turned to toilet paper. Yes, the greatest achievement for any teenaged male was to “roll” the trees in someone’s front yard with bathroom tissue, especially if that someone distracted us in math class with her freshly glossed lips and Gloria Vanderbilt perfume.
I vividly remember the first time several of my fellow dweebs and I rolled a pretty neighborhood girl’s house on Halloween night. We could barely contain our hormones as we flailed around trying to get a good TP streamer over even the lowest pine tree branches. I thought my dad was the coolest dude on the planet for hauling us there in the middle of the night and even serving as our getaway driver–that is until I discovered that he had made arrangements with the girl’s father in advance to ensure that we wouldn’t all wind up stuffed and mounted over their family’s fireplace. Even so, it was a thrilling experience that forever changed the way I look at Quilted Northern.
Now that I have my own children, I feel it’s my duty to carry on the Halloween traditions that are now a permanent part of my psyche and blood sugar levels. When our three daughters were little, it was so fun letting them dress up as ballerinas, fairy princesses and various cartoon characters with expensive costume licensing contracts. I still treasure the memory of taking them trick-or-treating, helping them sort through their candy and reminding them that Almond Joy bars are really only safe for adults.
These days, my youngest daughter is the only one of my three children who still likes to go trick-or-treating. Her older sisters are now solidly in their jaded teen years–when their reaction to just about everything I do is “SMH” (“Shaking My Head” for those of you who still use actual words) unless it involves my handing out cash.
Last year on Halloween night, we were having an epic late-October East Texas toad strangler, complete with an unnecessary display of thunder and lightning. But my youngest daughter and I wouldn’t be deterred. I know I only have a year or two left before she, too, will only look at me if I’m adorned with removable $20 bills, so I was determined to take her trick-or-treating, even if I wound up drowning in someone’s flower bed. Despite the weather, we had a great time, and my daughter finally learned to swim without holding her nose.
This year, I encourage you to experience the fun of a traditional Halloween. Purchase your children a costume that costs too much, take them trick-or-treating even if it rains, and if you don’t have young kids, you can always have a lot of fun with a jumbo package of Quilted Northern.
Jason (Jase) Graves is a married father of three daughters, a lifelong resident of Longview, Texas, and a Texas A&M Aggie. He writes about home and family issues from a humorous perspective for the Cagle Cartoons syndicate and his blog. Other than writing, his primary hobby is sleeping as late as possible. His piece, “Victoria’s Worst-Kept Secret,” is included in Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Crazy Family.