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Halloween is for Kids...the kid in all of us

No holiday is as nostalgic for me as Halloween

By Teralyn PilgrimPublished 3 years ago 5 min read

I thought Halloween was only for children.

It only made sense. Growing up, Halloween was my favorite holiday. Then I went to college and all the magic was gone.

Kids would dress up for school parties and then go waltzing down the street trick-or-treating, and I was jealous of the happiness that seemed to have gotten away from me.

When I have kids, I can get that magic back, I promised myself. I can experience Halloween vicariously through them.

Fourteen years later, I returned to my home state and moved in with my parents. Turns out, it wasn't my childhood that was missing from Halloweens when I moved away. It was my mother.

The Monster Mash

Halloween was taken very seriously at the Packham house. If no one was talking about our costumes years later, we had failed.

The year I was Medusa, my mom sewed snake heads with red ribbon tongues to attach to my hair. She and my dad spent so long getting my hair in braids with wire that on Halloween, I was four hours late to school. Learning took a backseat to a good Halloween costume.

When the end of the day bell rang at my middle school, everyone would quickly change into their costumes and go to a dance in the gym. Not me. My mom would spend so long on my makeup and costume that the dance would be mostly over by the time I got there. It was worth it to see all the gasps of amazement when I entered the room.

Of course, they played The Monster Mash at every dance.

Honorable Mention: Purple People Eater by Sheb Wolby and The Time Warp from Rocky Horror Picture Show were also classic picks for our dances.

Thriller by Michael Jackson

My earliest memory of Halloween is watching The Thriller. Mom had a video cassette of Michael Jackson's music videos, and my siblings and I watched it over and over again. That moment when he changes into a zombie always sent chills down our spines.

Honorable Mention: We Only Come Out at Night by the Smashing Pumpkins, another one of my mother's favorites.

I Put a Spell on You by Bette Midler

After trick-or-treating, we'd sort through our candy while a Halloween movie played in the background: usually Beetlejuice or Hocus Pocus.

The process of sorting Halloween candy was a complicated ceremony. Everything had to be grouped by flavor, hardness, texture, and by whether or not it had chocolate. Caramel candy went in this pile; peanut butter in another; suckers off the the side.

Then and only then would my brothers and sister commence the trading of candy, which was as animated as stock trading.

Honorable mention: Come Little Children from Hocus Pocus and The Banana Boat song and Jump in the Line by Harry Belfonte from Beetlejuice.

This is Halloween by Danny Elfman

When The Night Before Christmas came out, I asked my parents if it was a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie. On which holiday should I watch it?

My dad, who is a Christmas aficionado, lost all color in his face.

"It's a Halloween movie," he said quickly. "We do not watch The Nightmare Before Christmas on Christmas."

The Shining Soundtrack

When I was older, Mom took us to scary houses. We went to several every year.

She was particularly afraid of clowns and chain saws. We learned this when a creepy clown backed her into a corner where she cowered and laughed, and when she shoved my nine-year-old sister at a man with a chainsaw so she could escape.

Cry Little Sister by Gerard McMann

On October 1st, Mom watched Halloween movies -- only Halloween movies. Any suggestion that we watch something else was met with scorn. One of our favorites was The Lost Boys, a hockey vampire movie from the 1980's.

She'd keep watching Halloween movies exclusively until November 1st. After that, her movie marathon was over and the Halloween movies might as well not exist. At least, until next year.

Spooky Scary Skeletons by Disney

After my dad retired, my parents moved to a property with several acres of forest. That was where we lived when I moved in with them.

One of the trails became the "spook trail," a path of Halloween-themed decorations for the grandchildren to explore. Plastic ghosts hung from tree branches, tombstones lined the way, and gargoyles warned us to turn back before it was too late.

One of the grown ups carried a speaker that played fun songs for children, like Spooky Scary Skeletons.

Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr

My parents took us on ghost hunts when we were kids. One of the adults -- usually my dad, an uncle, or a family friend -- would carry glow sticks in the pitch darkness and we'd chase after them with pretend guns.

One time the glow stick broke and poured bright gew all over my uncle's hands. We thought it was blood and shouted that we had killed the ghost.

By the time she had grandkids, my mom had upgraded the ghost hunting process. She bought ghost buster back packs with light up jet streams and the kids would trek through the pitch-black forest with their gear strapped on, ready to catch a ghost.

A Promise that I Keep by Lisa Knapp

It was Halloween time when my mom got sick. All she could do was watch tv, and since she could only watch Halloween movies for an entire month, she soon ran out of things to watch.

We discovered a fun British show about werewolves called Wolfblood. I don't know why vampires got so popular when werewolves are so much better.

We binge watched a lot of the episodes together. No matter how many we saw in a single day, we'd listen to the intro song every time.

Grim Grinning Ghosts by Disney

My mom was obsessed with The Haunted Mansion at Disney World. She has a globe of Madame Leota; she had singing doom buggies with hitch hiking ghosts inside; she had a magnetic board with Haunted Mansion magnets.

All the grandkids loved The Haunted Mansion, too. When my nieces and nephews came to visit her that last Halloween, they'd grab the goodies from the ride and listen to the song Grim Grinning Ghosts over and over.

My first Halloween without my mom, I found myself singing that song constantly. It's like a one-song track playing endlessly in my head, reminding me what that last Halloween was like.

I guess you could say the song haunts me. But, like most of Halloween, it haunts me in a good way. Halloween will always be a bit painful, but also, spooky in the best possible, most magical way.

immediate family

About the Creator

Teralyn Pilgrim

Teralyn Pilgrim has an MFA in Creative Writing from Western New England University and a BA in English from Brigham Young University. Her work has been published in the Copperfield Review.

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