I was in an author’s reader group on Halloween where she asked what our favorite memory of Halloween was and it caused me to think. I mean, Halloween is my favorite holiday but what about it is my favorite memory? What made it my favorite holiday? It took me awhile, because as a kid I hated the big deal about it for most kids. I hated trick or treating. Such a weird tradition we have here where we encourage children to go up to stranger’s houses and ask for candy. Who came up with this idea anyways and how did it catch on? It was in thinking about this weird tradition of asking strangers for candy, that I remembered what made Halloween my favorite holiday. It was my Dad.
I was such an introverted kid that even then, the thought of going up to stranger’s door, ringing the bell and saying “trick or treat” was too much. Plus, in my town, there was the tradition of telling a joke before they would give you candy. An introverts worst nightmare I tell you. To top it off, I didn’t have siblings to go out with and save me some of the pressure. BFF told me that was the only reason she would go. Her brother’s did all the talking and she collected candy. She said once they stopped going, so did she. I didn’t have that luxury. I was an only child until I was 11, so I was stuck going out doing this by myself. I didn’t have many friends either. Nope. Hard pass. I would rather stay at home reading a book. I loved getting dressed up in costume, however the thought of going door to door caused me anxiety. To help alleviate this anxiety about trick or treating, my Dad decided to come with me.
Now one thing you have to understand about my Dad is that he is a big kid at heart. This is where I get it from and I love it. My Dad also never does anything half-hearted. This being said, he didn’t just decide to come trick or treating with me. He also decided to dress up with me and not in a lame store-bought costume. When I was a child, store bought costumes really were not a thing. Most people in our town, made their own and the kids came up with all sorts of idea for them, I am sure much to the dismay of their parents who then had to figure out how to implement them. I remember my Mom making me a Raggedy Ann costume, complete with a mop head dyed red for my hair. Everyone really went all out in our small Iowa town. My Dad was no exception. He decided to dress up as Dracula so a cape was made. Then a white dress shirt had a Styrofoam “wooden stake” attached over the heart with fake blood all around it (he might have used paint for that). Then, to take it one step further, my Dad made vampire teeth. Yes you read that right. He MADE them. My Dad was a dental lab technician and made dentures, partials and the like for a living, so he made fangs to go in his mouth. They were the same color as his own teeth and looked so real. My Mom helped him powder him face white and he even used makeup to make blood dripping down the corner of his mouth. I was so excited that my Dad took all this trouble to go trick or treating with me. He could have just come along like a normal parent, but nope. He even slicked his hair back and tried out his outfit with a few early bird trick or treaters. Judging by the screams, he knew he had gotten it right.
My Dad and I set out to gather candy from strangers. The Dracula and the traditional Korean girl (I had a real Korean outfit my Dad had brought back from when he was stationed there and I loved wearing it) walking hand in hand. Dad actually made me excited to go trick or treating. He went up to the first few doors with me and parents loved the fact that he was dressed up. Pretty soon, he would just stand back and watch me go up to the doors, sometimes even by myself. He even solved the joke problem by carrying a joke book in his back pocket and would let me find one to tell. When he stood back and let me go up to the doors, he was never far from sight. Usually standing on the sidewalk or in the yard. Then he got this brilliant idea. He would stand under trees and scare the shit out of kids who were walking up to houses. Parents loved it. In fact, I started pointing out my Dad when they would ask me if I was by myself so they could see him standing creepily under trees waiting to scare children by turning on his best Dracula voice. Creeper. It was so awesome. I might have gotten extra candy for my Dad and filled pillowcases. And yes…I shared with him.
The next year, I wasn’t so apprehensive to go trick or treating, but you know what? My Dad still went with me. He continued to go every year even though I was past that phobia by then. I didn’t mind. I would have missed him being there to be honest. Not everyone’s Dad will get dressed up every year as Dracula and go trick or treating with their kids. My Dad? He is awesome like that. For reals.
Oh yeah. I didn’t die today. I did however remember what made me love Halloween as a kid and it was my Dad but I didn’t die. I am Fat Girl whose Dad dressed up as a creepy Dracula to alleviate my anxiety about trick or treating and in turn made Halloween my favorite holiday Running. The experiment continues…