For the first time in a long time, I am excited about this spooky time of year. Well, I actually have a trick-or-treater, as Keith and I plan to take our son, Dean, to Trunk or Treat and around the area and to visit friends and neighbors in Carroll and Montgomery Counties.
Dean is dressing up as a crawfish - yes, that pinching little crustacean so famous in the South. Of course, with the hot temperatures, I don't expect he will wear his costume very long before protesting - loudly.
I've never been a huge fan of Halloween. I grew up in a rural part of DeSoto County, and with the exception of my grandparents, aunts, and uncles who lived within walking distance (through dark pastures, mind you), Momma and Daddy were forced to drive us from house to house, trick-or-treating. After an hour or two, my sisters and I were tired, hot and cranky and begging to go home.
Of course, the Sexton family made every holiday fun with annual traditions and, well, any excuse to socialize.
After moving to Southaven in my teens, I began enjoying Halloween more as the candy-giver not the candy-taker. My mother always makes a huge pot of homemade chili and into the late evening, we entertain friends and relatives toting their little Dora the Explorer or Goofy or Cinderella door to door in search of candy.
Over the years, we became the last stop of the night, and we would have a house full of folks eating chili, with kids sprawled on the living room rug inventorying their loot.
When my nephew, Hunter, was born, my sisters and I would escort him on his trick-or-treat excursion. Over the years, Hunter has dressed up like a pumpkin, Spiderman, and a hockey-mask-wearing-monster. On a particularly hot Halloween, Hunter dressed up like Elmo, but we ended up cutting the arms off to make the red, furry suit a bit more bearable. He looked like a macramé punk rocker with googly eyes.
To allow Hunter the freedom the other children had as they trotted down sidewalks in groups (we've always been a bit overprotective), we allowed him to walk alone with his friends as my sisters and I coasted along next to him in the car - occasionally, giving directions by yelling out the window. We were far from being invisible, with Hunter scolding us when we got too loud and embarrassing for him with our laughing and carrying on.
I think we had more fun than he had those years, and we didn't mind the hours of driving two-miles-and-hour, because he shared his candy with us.
The older I get, the more I realize that holidays - regardless if it is Halloween or Thanksgiving or Flag Day - are made more special by those wonderful memories and the ongoing traditions that are passed down through the years.
Dean is a little young to be embarrassed by his mom and crazy aunts and cousin, but those days are coming - quickly.
You can be sure, though, that those Sexton traditions will be alive and well in Carroll County, as I make a pot of chili and drive a hot, fussy crawfish house to house.