“A Fitting Costume for Halloween,” column for Oct. 20, 2015

Halloween is not my favorite holiday. But I like watching big people pretend to be little and little people pretend to be big.

I also like the candy. I buy it in bulk for trick-or-treaters. We never get trick-or-treaters, so I eat it myself. Except what my husband eats, which is plenty.

I especially like not spending hours decorating or shopping for gifts or cooking, unless you count buying candy, which I do.

OK, maybe Halloween is my favorite holiday. But I never liked it when I was a child.

I’ve told some of this story before. If it sounds familiar, bear with me. I promise a different ending.

We lived out in the country. Our closest neighbors weren’t close. But the Halloween I was 10, my mother said I could take my brothers trick-or-treating.

Joe was 6, blind and afflicted by cerebral palsy that made him walk like Frankenstein. Denton (I called him “Monkey Boy,” a term of endearment and description) was barely 5.

Costumes were limited. I folded a tin-foil crown and stuck it on my head. Looking in the mirror, I thought of what my grandmother might say: You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

I was no princess. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted to be. But a tin-foil crown would have to do until the real thing came along.

I threw a sheet over Joe, handed Monkey Boy a banana and we set off across the pasture. Our first stop was the home of a kindly woman whose house smelled like mothballs.

“Oh!” she said, patting Joe’s head,“you’re a cute little ghost!”

He shouted under the sheet, “I ain’t a ghost! I’m a mattress!”

She gave us three pieces of fudge. We knocked on two more doors. Nobody answered.

Back home, Joe said the fudge tasted like mothballs. I agreed. We gave it to Monkey Boy. He ate it all. Then he threw up.

I tossed my crown in the trash and forgot Halloween, until my three children came along.

“Mom,” said my five-year-old, “you need to make me a costume for Halloween.”

“I don’t sew,” I said.

“I know,” he said. “I’ll help.”

He wanted to be a “really scary” Red Monster like the one he saw on “Sesame Street.” So we bought red fur, black felt and a bottle of glue and made a Red Monster suit. Sort of. It was more funny than scary, but he loved it. So did I.

I put a tin-foil crown on his sister, a true princess. A pair of long ears turned their baby brother into a baby kangaroo. And me?

For the first time in my life, I knew who I was and what I wanted to be. So I pulled on jeans and a T-shirt, put my hair in a ponytail and we went trick-or-treating _ the monster, the princess, the baby ‘roo, and I in my “mom” costume.

I wish you could’ve seen us.

It was the first of many happy Halloweens. Then the kids grew up and did other things on Halloween that I was probably better off not knowing about.

Now my husband and I live in a retirement community in Las Vegas, where if somebody trick-or-treats at your door, they’re probably senile or lost.

We have five grandchildren in California. Randy, Wiley and Eleanor will be skeletons. Henry will be a pirate. Charlotte will be a mermaid. Their mothers, God bless them, will send photos.

I like photos a lot more than candy. But this Halloween I’ll treat myself to something even better. I’ll fly to California, and surprise my grandchildren by trick-or-treating at their door.

I know who I am and what I want to be. I’ll throw a sheet over my head and when they open the door, I’ll yell, “Trick or treat!” Then I’ll make them guess what my costume is.

They’re very smart, but I’ll outsmart them. “No!” I’ll say, “I’m not a ghost or a mattress!”

Then I’ll yank off the sheet, do a little happy dance and shout really loud, “I’m your nana!”

I just hope they won’t end up years from now needing to talk about it in therapy.


  1. Dawn Manjarris says

    Sharon, Your writing speaks to my heart time and time again. The Halloween article was no exception. It sparked a major funny bone in me… I could not stop laughing!!! I have never laughed so hard and so long reading an article, by myself, with no one else in the house except my two dogs. My childhood memories of Halloween were very similar!!! My husband knows how much I enjoy reading your article so he sets it next to my coffee cup; it starts my Monday morning out right. Only this Monday, I laughed and laughed and laughed… throughout the day. Thank you! I needed that timely and beautifully written piece to make my week…aaahhh!!!!

  2. Jeanne Hassell says

    I’ve wanted to send you a note for a very long time. I enjoy reading your weekly column, in our local paper. Yes, several times you have brought me to tears, reliving my own childhood.
    Today, while I was reading your story about Halloween, I remember my father dressed up like ET for Halloween one year. He went to his daughter ‘s (my sister) house to go Trick or Treat. The granddaughter (10 years old) opens the door , I guess the ET costume frightened her so much she slams the door in grandpa’s (ET’s) face. We hope that your grandchildren don’t slam the door in Nana’s face or need therapy years from now!
    OK, we have a question, if your husband is now retired, why don’t you or when are you moving back to California? Just asking! You could live near your wonderful grandchildren! We pray that your not thinking about retiring anytime soon, because we would miss your weekly column.

  3. Sharon, are you still wearing the Orange/black earrings I gave to you years ago at the Plaza Hotel Luncheon? I believe it was a day that CHOMP gave us you as our desired and wonderful speaker!
    We all miss you, here on the central coast!
    The Herald hasn’t been the same since!

    Happy H-ween and stay away from the fudge!

  4. Betty Williammee says

    nice stories!
    Thank you Clara McMichael for sharing on Facebook!

  5. Kate Sciacca says

    I laughed out loud when you wrote about that fudge ? Halloween was NEVER my favorite…. I do not sew and haven’t a creative bone or gene in my body…. But that candy…. Oh yeah…. That candy! ??

  6. I just love your columns, Sharon! You are great story teller, and when the stories are related to your own life, they are always wonderful. God Bless!

  7. This will only work because they are too young to read! I wish I could be a fly on the wall when you pull off that sheet! Boo!

  8. You may not know it, but you always get it so very right!

  9. What a great Halloween treat for the grandkids! Have a wonderful time!

  10. Once again, I love it! Especially the “I ain’t a ghost, I’m a mattress” part! Thank you, Sharon!

  11. What a surprise to sweet kids !!happy holoween !!☺

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