The first Halloween costume I ever remember wearing was a plastic Yogi Bear mask. It was 1978 and I’m pretty sure I went trick-or-treating with my aunt Jen. We are close in age so in our younger years we trick-or-treated together in Montevideo, Minnesota. I don’t remember anything else about that Halloween. I was three and a half so I guess nothing was so frightening it stuck with me. And if I did see anything that bothered me, clearly it wasn’t a big deal if I can’t remember it.
Halloween wasn’t a big deal when I was a little kid. And it wasn’t super scary. It was normal scary. Kind of creepy — witches, goblins, ghosts, Scooby Doo — but nothing really graphic or horrifying. We got some candy and that was cool, but it’s not like I could just eat it anytime I wanted to. We had fun, got tired, went home, got ready for bed. It was fun even at the “haunted house” houses, because it wasn’t blood and guts, just mummies and vampires and the suspense of what might happen — not the aftermath.
The first Halloween I remember being scared was 1985. I was dressed as a hobo clown. I don’t really know what that is. But Jen was also a hobo clown. We had both moved to Arkansas by then. We were nearly too old to trick-or-treat that year, but we went anyway, despite the threat of Devil Worshippers kidnapping us.
Yes, you read that right: Devil Worshippers. This was thing to be scared of in small town Arkansas in 1985. The rumor was that the Devil Worshippers were going to kidnap the blond-haired, blue-eyed children as they were trick-or-treating. For what? I don’t know. I don’t know what Devil Worshippers do with children. I don’t know what Devil Worshippers are. But I do know that I have blue eyes and my hair was just light enough to make me worry.
We walked away from that Halloween unscathed and with a pile of candy, nary a Devil Worshipper in sight.
I’m pretty sure I trick-or-treated the next year, too. It seems like I was a 50’s girl. Some kind soul let me borrow a poodle skirt. At this point I was nearly 12 and in all of those years of trick-or-treating I never remember blood and guts and really, truly scary things being part of the Halloween decorations or of trick-or-treating. But that’s not the case these days.
I could blame video games or television or movies or terrorism or bad parents or a decline in Family Values or China or Russia or the Christian Conservatives or the Liberal Media or CANCER or global warming or the internet or SOME thing for all of the bloodiness and scary things my young children will have presented to them Halloween night. But that won’t change anything, will it?
So I will talk to them about how it’s all just people in costumes and emphasize all the fun parts and tell them that they don’t have to go to any house they don’t want to and hope that the next night they are able to sleep. And that I don’t see anybody dressed Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees so that I can sleep.
I’m not worried about Devil Worshippers anymore; my kids don’t have blue eyes or blond hair. And, besides, my hair is darker now.