Old customs and new traditions converge on Halloween
The little hobgoblins and miniature witches are gone for the year, still reveling in their booty and some nursing a stomach ache. Surely this must be the dentists' favorite holiday. I've always enjoyed handing out candy to the neighborhood youngsters and admiring their Halloween costumes.
One year several little fellows knocked on our door, and I began passing out their treats. One little boy, who was about three or four years old, saw the supper table with food still on it. He bypassed the candy and loudly announced, "I want a biscuit! He got his biscuit."
One Halloween when Mom was living with us, she had her recliner right beside the front door. The grandkids and great-grandkids loved Mom -- Granny, and they began sharing their treats with her. She loved candy, and began gobbling it down. For some strange reason, she wasn't hungry at suppertime. If she wanted to make a meal on candy, I let her. She lived to be 92, so it must not have hurt her.
We loved Halloween when I was a kid. Not only for the treats, but it was a great excuse to play pranks. The night before Halloween was called "Gate Night" and many a farmer woke up the next morning to find their farm gate suspended on the barn roof. We never really did anything destructive, mostly soaping a few windows or knocking on a door and running. The worst thing that many of the kids did was blocking the road and waiting for the driver of a car to get out and remove the road block. A bucket full of cold water was then thrown on the unwary driver.
Above the road was a high rock cliff, which was a perfect vantage point for the Halloween imps to do their dirty work. They would fill a wash tub with water earlier in the day in order to be prepared for the night's mischief. I was never a party to this, but I can't say the same for some of my children. Of course I forbade them to do this, but Patty has an eye injury from running through the woods to avoid a rock-wielding victim. (Be sure your sins will find you out!)
The encyclopedia tells us that Halloween, or All Hallow's Eve is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31, the eve of the Western feast of All Hallow's Day. It initiates Hallowmas, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering saints, martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.
It possibly has pagan roots. According to many Bible scholars, All Hallow's Eve is a Christian feast initially influenced by Celtic harvest festivals. It dates back for 2,000 years, and is a mix of old customs and new traditions. To our young people, it is merely a time to dress up and have a lot of fun.
When we were youngsters, it certainly never entered our minds that it was anything pagan or evil. There is something inherent in us that make us love to be terrified. We used to turn out the lights in a dark room and tell ghost stories. Mom would tell us tales of premonitions and tokens (supposedly true) and we were deliciously frightened.
When Mom was young, her older sister Eva would tell them stories after they were in bed upstairs. One night she was quoting James Whitcomb Riley's poem about "Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay/ To wash the cups and saucers up, and brush the crumbs away" then she deviated from the poem.
She added, "Little Orphant Annie took consumption and died. At night, the children could hear her lungs walking across the floor -- squish, squish." About that time their big tomcat jumped through the open window and landed square on Aunt Eva's chest. Talk about a scramble! They thought for sure that Little Orphant Annie had come back to ha'nt them!
We had some welcome visitors this week, Margo White from Buffalo, who brought her 97 year old mother, Kathyrn Fay with her. Mrs. Fay had flown in from California for a visit, and had expressed a desire to meet me. They came bearing gifts -- homemade canned salsa, tomato sauce and hot tomato jam among other things. Coming from California, Margo had made these delicacies with a Mexican flair. Her mother was a marvel. Her mind was sharp (mine should be so!) and she got around like a much younger lady. It was a pleasure to have them.
One of my regular readers, John Beam, mentioned a poem he liked, and it fits this time of year.
Come Little Leaves
By George Cooper
"Come, little leaves," said the wind one day
"Come o'er the meadows with me and play;
Put on your dresses of red and gold
For summer is gone and the days grow cold."
Soon as the leaves heard the wind's loud call,
Down they came fluttering, one and all
Over the brown fields they danced and flew,
Singing the glad little songs they knew
"Cricket, good-by, we've been friends so long,
Little brook, sing us your farewell song;
Say you are sorry to see us go;
Ah, you will miss us, right well we know."
"Dear little lambs in your fleecy fold,
Mother will keep you from harm and cold;
Fondly we watched you in vale and glade,
Say, will you dream of our loving shade?"
Dancing and whirling, the little leaves went,
Winter had called them, and they were content;
Soon, fast asleep in their earthy beds,
The snow laid a coverlid over their heads.
We received a request for a recipe from Mary A. Triplett of Summersville for old-fashioned stacked apple pies. She thinks that her mother-in-law made them with sliced, dried apples -- and her grandmother also made them. She added, "I tell everyone that 'OLD' is a three letter dirty word. We are just aging and mellowing!" Can anyone provide the recipe?
We have a wonderful promise in Isaiah 46:4 concerning old age. It goes like this: "Even to your old age I am He, and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you."
Can you think of anything better than to be carried in the arms of God?
Contact Alyce Faye Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 2556 Summers Fork Road, Ovapa, WV 25164.