To this day, I adore dressing up as a witch for Halloween. I especially love being a good witch, and people always ask me why. I’m very sure it falls back to a Halloween when I was eight or nine.
My father and I would trek miles through the surrounding neighborhoods on Halloween. He worked often, but Halloween was one night that he would stay with me for hours, so it was a very important tradition. We would always go out early and stay out long past the other kids’ bedtimes, and my mother always made sure I had whatever type of costume I wanted-provided I was warm.
One year, we were on our way back to our house. It was completely dark out. We had traversed blocks and blocks, and my feet were hurting. This year, I was dressed as a witch. I felt as though others were scared of me, so I didn’t have to be scared of them. As we walked back towards the house, my father spied one we’d somehow missed earlier.
It was a house on the corner with lights and music. I was unsure how we could have missed it before. There were cobwebs everywhere and a dimly-lit path. Had this presentation magically appeared just after all of the younger kids had gone to bed?
I wanted to appear brave for my father, so I agreed to go to the house. They were one of the only houses still up on the weekday Halloween, lights on and, presumably, a candy bowl lying in wait of yours truly.
I took my father’s hand as we walked along the path, which soon revealed a fully functional cauldron, complete with boiling sounds and fog. Soon after I heard a telltale cackle, produced by the most frightening witch I had ever seen. This woman, I thought, would scare the Wicked Witch of the West-and her little monkey minions, too.
I halted, completely frightened. My dad grinned and urged me to move forward, but I was frightened. I held my own wand up as though in defense-fortunately my father was holding my candy bucket since it had gotten too heavy for me hours ago.
“Come here, my pretty!” the hag beckoned and cackled. I was pretty certain that there was no amount of candy in the world that could persuade me to move forward, but I did. “Another witch has come to visit me!”
I knew it was just a woman in costume, but I hadn’t seen anything so scary all night. Halloween had been fun and saccharine in every meaning-but suddenly the real magic of the holiday had enraptured me.
I managed to take the candy from her basket while my father was distracting her, complimenting her on such an awesome display. The witch then offered me more candy, which I felt I had earned, so I took that, too.
That witch, who lived about a block away from me, has inspired a lifelong interest in witches and the difference between good and evil witches. I wish I could thank her for scaring the hell out of me that Halloween, because that’s one aspect of the holiday that seems lost to many children. When I dress up as the good witch this year, I hope to also point children to a really convincing evil one!