Just thinking about what Halloween means to me.
I remember trick-or-treat with the family in the Westwood Lake neighborhood. Around the block from our house, our mailman (who lived in the same neighborhood he did his route), would set up his house to look like a haunted house, with Frankenstein, Dracula, zombies and other full-sized figures. He and his wife loved doing this every year. What I remember most about his house was 2 things -- the full-sized zombie statues, and the smile on his face. We would do our rounds for candy, come home and dump the bag on the dining room table. Mom would look through all the candy, because my teachers at Tropical Elementary would always show us the reel-to-reel films warning us about razor blades in apples, or poisoned candy-corn. Then, they would let me have a few pieces of candy, and we would watch Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
My other Halloween memory comes from our home church. Every year up until I was about the age of 12, our church held an annual Halloween party (I was going to insert negative commentary here about how the fundamentalist Christians of America put a stop to that, but I want this to be a happy blog). This was usually held on a Saturday right around Halloween time. The youth group was in charge of the haunted house. The most memorable Halloween parties were given by our church when we rented space at an Episcopal church off of Okeechobee Road in Hialeah. the expansive fellowship hall and adjoining classrooms were perfect (the classrooms were set up as different "spooky" themed rooms). It was the 70's, so the spookiness included a zombie stable, complete with cemetary, another room had a beheading, complete with a head falling into a bucket, mad scientists, and other spooky scenes. The rest of the time included Cuban food, live music (Christian themed sing-along songs we called "coritos"), funny skits and time with friends and family.
My favorite holiday of the year is Thanksgiving. But growing up, Halloween was up at the top of the list. Not because of a bag full of candy, but because it was a tradition I experienced with family and friends. Today, it prompts memories of a great American tradition. Let's not complicate it too much.