By Linda Nidiffer

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

What happened to Halloween?  Tom and I have been reminiscing the last few days about Halloween when we were kids and that is the question that I have been muttering to myself the last few days. You would expect our experiences to be somewhat different considering that I grew up where Hector had pups (bet you haven’t heard that one for a while) and Tom grew up in Indianapolis.  Oddly enough our experiences were very similar.

Neither of our families had much money to spare and resources were limited.  Tom had a wide extended family and church family and we had helpful neighbors.  They had no garden and we had three but I don’t remember growing pumpkins, squash or gourds.  If we did it was a limited crop.  So if we had a display pumpkin someone gave it to us—and they did every year because I remember carving those buggers.  Tom remembers carving pumpkins too.  They threw away the seeds; we didn’t because Mom liked to eat them, so we baked them every year.  The pumpkin carcass eventually made it to the hog pen.  Not much got wasted in our house.

Our costumes in both houses were homemade from things around the house.  We would scrounge around in Mom and Dad’s closet and see if there was something that could be repurposed.  Sometimes we would dig around in the attic or cellar for a hidden treasure for a new idea. Who knew where we would find a spark of creativity for our big night of trick or treating?  There was never a thought of wasting money on a readymade costume and we used a pillow case to gather all of the goodies that we collected.

The scrounging technique worked great for me until my sister, Esther (May her memory be a blessing.) learned to sew well enough that she was ready to spread her wings into “costume” manufacture.  Being oblivious to financial matters, I don’t know how she convinced Mom that spending money on fabric would be a good idea.  One year she made me a clown suit with really big bright polka dots on a white background.  I remember it because it was big and baggy enough that I could wear my regular clothes under it. Sometimes we were “treated” to cold rain or snow on Halloween so skimpy costumes were avoided.  I wore the clown suit as pajamas for a long time.  Another costume she made for me was a red flannel tomato with a green collar and a pipe cleaner stem on the hat. That one was an extravagance because I only wore that one once!

So when did extravagant consumerism co-opt a silly non-holiday? I know that times were simpler then and we did not have much money to throw around but did that affect the quality of the fun that we had?  Maybe it is time to quit buying costumes made in China and filling the coffers of the Hollywood crowd.  Isn’t this what some of our liberal friends want: conscious consumerism? Boo!?