Halloween 2017 is over. True. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get a treat out of reading lessons learned from the Halloweens of yesteryear. Oh, and if you click the link below you will also get a super-yummy Pumpkin Soup recipe that’s perfect for any Autumn day.
The summer heat in south Louisiana can be oppressive. It’s not like the dry heat of southern California or Arizona. No. It’s a heat with teeth … and a fiery humid tongue that licks right through you. It’s a heat that bakes your bones.
I am not a fan of the heat. The older I get, the hotter our summers seem to get. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe not. But my lack of tolerance for the heat plays a big part in the love I’ve always had for the month of October.
For me, October signals autumn and the beginning of cooler weather. But the weather doesn’t always cool down in October in Baton Rouge. Sometimes it doesn’t cool down until December — late December even. I remember Christmases that culminated in afternoon swim parties and snow cones. In the South we often dream of idyllic scenes from White Christmas, but snow is rare here. We don’t always get what we want. Sometimes all we can do is make good use of what we are given. That’s not always an easy lesson to learn.
October 1981 — I was 11 years old. It was the first year my parents allowed me to dress up as anything scary for Halloween. It was also the first time they allowed me to wear a full, over-the-head rubber Halloween mask. They thought those masks were too dangerous, providing only slits for eyes. But that year they allowed me to wear one because I wore them down. For weeks. That Halloween I was the Frankenstein monster.
A few weeks before Halloween, when the candy and the costumes first started lining store shelves, I happened to be with my mom at our local K&B (a convenience store/pharmacy chain in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas that unfortunately is no longer in business). That day, I saw the mask that would make all my Halloween dreams come true. I knew my chances were slim, so I did what any 11-year-old boy would do. I begged like there was no tomorrow. I pleaded. My mom’s answer? No. I was crushed, but I refused to give up. I continued to talk about that mask at home. To my mom. To my dad. To the dogs. To my sister. To anyone who would listen.
On Saturday morning the week before Halloween, my younger sister and I unenthusiastically accompanied my mother while she ran errands. Unenthusiastically, that is, until I realized that one of her errands took us right past K&B. When I saw that iconic K&B purple sign in the distance, I redoubled my efforts and poured layer upon layer of begging onto my mother. I was shameless. It was awful. But it worked. She relented. She caved. She turned into the K&B parking lot. I got what I wanted. I just knew I was going to have the most epic Halloween of all time.
We left the store, got back into the car, and started to exit the parking lot. While I sat in the backseat basking in the glory of my achievement (and rubbing it in my sister’s face that I got what I wanted and she didn’t), my mother pulled out of the parking lot into the street. Bam!
An oncoming car crashed into us. Nobody was hurt, thankfully, but we were all shaken up a bit. Actually I was shaken up quite a bit; I was convinced that the collision was my fault. I blamed myself because I had been so adamant that I had to have that mask and I had to have it right then. If only I hadn’t insisted and we hadn’t gone to K&B, I thought. With my face hot, wet, and tired from crying, I realized I didn’t want the mask anymore. It took a few days and several conversations for my mother to finally convince me that the collision wasn’t my fault. I came around. Mama had me in better spirits by Halloween night.
The mask was beautiful — in a Frankenstein-monster sort of way. The eerie gray-green face and black-haired mask was the centerpiece around which I created the scariest ensemble possible. I had to use whatever I had on hand: football shoulder pads, a tattered army-green shirt that was four times too big for me, tacky purple warm-up pants, and an old pair of ratty work boots that I wore when I cut the grass. The mask was the only item I had to acquire, and, as you can tell, it cost me.
My costume was indeed epic. I looked just like Frankenstein. I’m sure I stood 7 feet tall as I watched and waited in my front yard for the sun to go down, eager to start trick-or-treating. For all of the energy and angst that went into finally acquiring that mask, the glory was short-lived. That Halloween must have been the hottest I’d known. The full rubber mask and purple warm-up pants only made it worse. I didn’t make it halfway through my route before tearing off the mask and tossing it into my candy bag.
Want to know how savoring Sundays can be a lot like that Frankenstein monster mask? Do you also want to get a tasty recipe for the perfect Autumn Pumpkin Soup? Then, click here to finish reading at CatholicDigest.org: