This is kinda based on my own RL.
Halloween is not celebrated where I live. We do not have a cultural niche for it (you can thank cold season, knee-deep snow and other fun things of the wintertime for that), and we do our masked candy-begging run prior to Easter, in a completely different context.
Even so, the recent years have seen an enormous push from marketing to make us celebrate it. This, of course, creates some conflict and confusion between generations.
When Lucy got a letter back from her grandmother—who she hadn’t seen since they moved away from the countryside to the city—and the answer was that her grandmother would be delighted to have her and her friends over for the weekend, she was positively ecstatic. She, Slim and Blimp put together a plan for dress-up, as it was the weekend before Halloween (she had to explain in her second letter to her grandmother what is Halloween), and she wanted to go around the old village and show off their costumes, meet with old friends left behind.
Blimp wanted to be a mobster, or posh businessman, but he could not afford much or decide which one. Fortunately his mother was handy with a needle, and she quickly put together a rather convincing—well, at least from a distance—attire. Slim had gotten lucky; somehow, he had found a rubber mask depicting the hottest action hero, Max Payback, plus an almost realistic-looking wig. Lucy wasn’t sure what to think of this: she knew that Slim wasn’t always the most honest one, and it was quite likely that he had acquired the mask and wig in less than honest ways. This was even more obvious when she thought about the clothes he was going to wear, ragged leftovers from his big brother who worked in construction.
But why the bucket and broom? Slim, on the other hand, had a very glib tongue. This would be Max Payback’s undercover disguise, as a janitor. The most bad-ass janitor of all time! She decided to let it go with a tiny sigh. Her own costume had her on the edge of her seat, but much to her relief, her mother managed to acquire it in time. Sometimes they threw away some clothes that were hopelessly stained at the hospital laundry, and she managed to sneak out a used, discarded lab coat for her to wear, after several thorough washings and oven-bakings. The best mom ever!
On Friday evening, after her father came back from work, all the kids packed into the sidecar of his motorcycle, put the knapsacks, pumpkins and things to the saddlebags, her father loaded a shotgun (because you never knew what kind of people would travel at night too) and strapped it to the cycle, and then they hit the road. The moon was shining down from the sky as they drove through desolate countryside, for several hours. Mist was rising from the swampy ground, when grandmother’s hut came into view. They took their things, and three little figures, clad in their Halloween clothes scampered across a field of dead grass.
Lucy reached to knock on the door, and when it creaked open and grandmother stood at the doorstep, all three shouted “Happy Halloween! Trick or Treat!”
It would be the best Halloween ever.
Things had not been the same ever since the… Others had come, and raised their portal between the worlds. Her son had collected his family, and moved off to distant city to “have a job”, “a better life to his family”, as if there was something wrong at living here, and having the life they got now. She missed them all, missed looking after the little ones, but she could not bear to live in a city full of Others.
So when Lucy’s letter arrived, she was delighted, albeit slightly worried if she could do this thing right. To begin with, she was puzzling over her name (which she helpfully clarified as being her new name); true, they had taken a different name as was the custom when one moved outside of their own home, to protect the family at their old home. But why take a name belonging to Others? She suspected glumly that it might have something to do with a better life and having a job; old-style names were going out of fashion.
And then there was this “Halloween”. Souls? Her kind did not believe in souls, no one did under the Old Religion and Ways. Witches, goblins, ghuls? Nonsense, that was simply baggage and prejudice brought in by the Others. There was talk about carving pumpkins, too; why would anyone carve a pumpkin, if not to eat it? And… and then there was this bit about candies and tasty treats and tricks. Oh dear, oh dearie dearie dear. She was now worried to her bones that she would not be able to do this right, not at all, being old and very much set to her ways. But she would try, for the kids.
She counted her money twice, and way before the children’s arrival, trekked two villages over to a general store to make a purchase. The prices were staggering, but she managed to get a one large bar of “chocolate” with what she had, and some raw ingredients for things she knew how to bake and cook. After some courtesy tea and talk, she made her way back to the hut, and began to prepare for her guests.
As the blessed Moon rose to the sky and warded off the darklings, she heard a knock at the door. She moved slowly to the peephole to verify who was out there, then she opened the door and her old eyes wandered from kid to kid.
There was Blimp, in a suit made out of sack cloth, wearing a wig made out of straw. She had no idea what he was supposed to portray, but he was doing his best to strut and show off his stuff, even expose his fangs in a show of might like an adult ogre might.
Slim was wearing some kind of mask made out of leathery stuff; it was depicting one of the male Others, but who, she could not tell. Obviously, though, the face meant a lot to him, because he was trying to make himself look more adult and more brave than he really was; his tail was twitching in nervous excitement, and he just might run under a rock or behind a tree if he heard something he didn’t like. A forked tongue flitted in and out from a tiny hole made between the lips of the mask.
And then, of course, there was Lucy, her dearest, youngest granddaughter. She had grown a lot, soon past being a little calf, and she noted to her pleasure that her horns were budding out. If there was something good about the Others, it was that they did not tolerate the custom of disbudding the horns; if you wanted to find a job and enroll your children to their schools, you weren’t allowed to disbud them. Good. She would grow up quite a lady, and in her letter she had stated she was going to wear the robes of a healer, because she wanted to become one, and then she’d heal the whole world. Ambitious, this little one.
She snapped out of her thoughts when the three shouted “Happy Halloween! Trick or Treat!” and she gave them an unsure smile. “Happy… Hall-o-ween. Ooooh, but you all look so scary.” She gestured with her hands, urging the little ones to come in before the darklings would notice them under the lights. “I invite you to come in, and stay in safety of my house.” All of them skittered in, unaware of the dangers that might lurk outside. She closed the door, and slipped a beam across it to keep it barred.
“Now, would you like some treats?” She trembled lightly as she held out a bowl of self-made treats; how could they possibly stand against those given by the Others? At least she had that chocolate if this failed to please the children.
She didn’t need to worry. All three dove in for candied eyeballs, and ate themselves full, followed by other traditional treats of the countryside, with all the merriment three kids and grandmother could possibly have.
No one remembered the lonely bar of chocolate.
It was the best Halloween ever.