Monday, October 31, 2016

Our Halloween

My parents always planted a few pumpkin seeds every year so us kids would be able to choose our own home-grown pumpkins from the garden. Today, this is where I'd go if I was looking for a pumpkin.

A smile and two holes for eyes was the standard pumpkin creation in my day. On Sunday, my nephew Etienne and wife Aya chose this idea from their smartphone, and imitated it perfectly.

A CBC show today about Halloween said it's become the second-biggest "holiday" of the year, after Christmas. There were discussions of scary clown and inappropriate costumes (no Pocahontas! no dreadlocks!) and one caller railed bitterly about the onslaught of store-bought costumes and the "tons of plastic garbage" Halloween now seems to entail.

It's certainly a different experience today than when my father used to drive us into Lougheed on the night of Oct. 31 so the five of us could tour the town, yelling "trick or treat" at as many doors as we could manage. Razor blades in apples hadn't been discovered yet, so our parents never checked the stash we brought home. Our costumes were home-made; the only store-bought part I remember is the rubber witch's mask one of us would don every Halloween (the nose collected liquid in the freezing cold, so had to be emptied often). We were on our own; our parents never accompanied us door to door like parents do today, and they certainly  never dressed up in outfits matching their children's as seems to be the trend now. Decorations were minimal -- the most I recall is a pumpkin at people's doors -- compared to today's all-out displays of skeletons in odd positions and hissing pumpkins, ghosts and monsters full of pumped-in air.

But some things haven't changed. My nephew Etienne, his wife Aya and toddler Emi carved a pumpkin at our place tonight, and the tough orange flesh is just as thick and hard as I remember. The  innards are still stringy and full of seeds, and the candle-lit result exudes the same organic-flesh smell that I recall. The day before, I watched as the children of Dunbar, dressed in colourful costumes with their attentive matching parents, flooded up and down the street collecting candy from merchants. Their outfits may have been store-bought and their parents may have been hovering, but the thrill of wearing something unusual, behaving differently and collecting a whack of treats from strangers was the same.

This garden full of ghosts, pumpkins and other critters is one of the many well-populated Halloween displays that will be greeting city kids tonight. 

This air-filled creation on a trampoline hovers over the street as part of the same display. It looks quite menacing.

Another view of the same display, which is across from a Kitsilano park. There was a constant stream of parents and children at the gate. Many of the pieces in this garden are plastic and filled with air. 

I don't know who decided cobwebs were part of Halloween, but they are as standard now as pumpkins. This whole high hedge got the cobweb treatment. 

In this garden, the rocks got the cobwebs.

This pretty house on the hill had a full range of ghostly creatures and many signs, like the "ghouls gone wild" in this photo.

I like this display because of the way the ghostly figures are interspersed with the greenery. The house has a bit of a gothic feel, so it all fits together.

I like the "spooky" sign at the roof line, and the high-flying ghost figures around the house and in the tree.

These air-filled figures and orange Halloween lights along the sidewalk make a simple display for a simple bungalow.

Another view of Etienne and Aya's pumpkin.

And how it looks in the dark. Good Halloween night!

1 comment:

  1. Yes....definitely "the thrill of wearing something unusual, behaving differently and collecting a whack of treats from strangers was the same." Well, the only "merchant"we collected from was "Eddies" the local corner store where we bought our candy and got milk and bread for our parents. I forget the actual breakdown but I remember being given a quarter and that would buy a quart of milk, a loaf of bread and I had two cents to spend which I used to buy 6 jawbreakers. Now, I haven't quite been able to figure out Aya and Etienne's pumpkin?