”Happy Halloween!” It was an exciting time for me as a young girl. I grew up on a small farm, along with eight brothers and two sisters. My school days were spent at a local Catholic grade school. Each Halloween the sisters encouraged us to remember the saints and celebrate All Saints Day. Each student chose a saint and dressed up for the parade of saints. Miniature St. Joseph, Mary, nuns, priests, always in abundance, marched proudly in a haphazard formation around the gymnasium. If it was nice outside, the line snaked up and down the street outside the school with a definite zig and a zag. Raided closets provided the kaleidoscope of bathrobes, nightgowns, blankets and sheets transformed into costumes. I felt proud to as I stomped in time with others as we professed our faith.
After our parade we returned to our classroom for the party. Our desk tops filled quickly with homemade treats of popcorn balls, cookies, and fudge as my classmates in turn shared their mother’s handiwork. A few students came with real store purchased candy, like a small Snickers bar, or my favorite, the 100,000 bar. It was a sweet time.
Halloween evening at the Kies home was a celebration. We dressed in costumes and held our own party. I remember one year in particular, Mom allowed us each to invite one friend to join us for the evening. Our small dining room table was quite crowded, but that made it all the more fun. Mom, a small framed thin woman, adorned herself with an over-sized calico skirt, and cotton blouse. Her bony hips and shallow stomach were padded with rags. She cut the feet from her dark hose and slid them on her arms. She tied Dad’s red bandana around her head and declared “I am Aunt Jamima!” Mom must have stood over the hot griddle for over an hour. Pancakes flipped from pan to platter in assembly line style as she worked until every tummy was overfilled. After the table was cleared, we began the games.
The traditional game of bobbing for apples was tabled. Mom knew her offspring and the oceans of puddles we could make. Instead she tied a line from door to door and hung apples on strings of fishing line. There must have been 20 crisp, red apples from our orchard, all hung in a row. We lined up, shoulder to shoulder, hands behind our backs, and at the appointed time the crunching began. The first to finish their apple snack was the winner. To this day, I don’t remember who won. I do remember the giggles and laughter as we attempted to chew a floating piece of fruit.
We also played pin the face on the jack-o-lantern; Button, button, who’s got the button; and a rousing game of musical chairs.
Yes, my mom taught us how to have fun no matter what we had. Pancakes, inexpensive food to feed the masses, apples from our orchard, chairs, a record players and friends helped shape me into who I am today. Mom taught me to enjoy my circumstances and people. She gave me a glimpse of joy. Instead of dwelling on the fact that town kids went trick or treating and we didn’t, I have a delicious memory of a mother wasn’t afraid to stop out of the box and create her own fun.
Trick or treating – who needs it? I had my family.