MOORE COLUMN: Halloween may be the quickest, easiest way to spot a Yankee

Published 7:47 pm Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Forget anything you’ve heard on television or seen on any silly old calendar. Contrary to popular opinion, Halloween is not set in stone. It’s a fluid date that can be pushed aside for high school football. Rumor has it, even the peewees have been known to take down All Hallows’ Eve.

If a Southerner ever needed a test to spot a Yankee in his midst, asking when Halloween is celebrated would yield the quickest results. I’m no newb to these parts, but Crenshaw County, you managed to trip me up.

I first got wind of the possible Halloween swap last month at a meeting for the Downtown Merchants Association. The organization was planning Thursday’s Halloween party at the Pavilion, but did not want to confirm anything until the City Council had made its decree.

Email newsletter signup

I quickly realized I was the only person at the meeting who was confused. “But, it falls on a Friday. What’s the hold-up?”

Those of you who have never lived outside the South may find it hard to believe, but absolutely nothing trumps Halloween in California. It was always my mom’s favorite holiday, a day when she could dress up her kids in random outfits that made her laugh and send them out to collect her favorite treats. Yes, we were allowed to keep some of our candy. But, the pile of “questionable” candy that Mom insisted on checking seemed to grow every year.

Mom never bought us costumes from the store. And she rarely asked us what we wanted to be. I can remember the year she dressed me as Mork by sticking a short wig on me and dressing me in one of my dad’s suits. Teachers at the school dance laughed. Students kept telling me the same thing, “Your suit’s on backwards.”

There was another year where she sprinkled baby powder into a wig and pinned it to my 7-year-old head. I carried a purse and had a pillow stuck under a polyester dress. When I knocked on doors, nearly everyone asked what I was supposed to be.

“A fat old lady,” was all that I could think to say. My mom had laughed too hard to actually answer me when I asked her what I was.

I can only count myself lucky that Halloween dates did not fluctuate in California. Mom would have taken it as a cue to dress her kids up and load us into her van so that we could celebrate her favorite holiday in several communities, from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2.

My first experience with a fluctuating Halloween day came when I moved to Mobile and Halloween fell on a Sunday.

It blew my mind that the city officials even considered trying to change the date. The mere logistics seemed impossible. This wasn’t a matter of closing federal buildings. It was coordinating with every parent, every resident with a porch light and every host of a costume party.

It was upsetting the balance of tricks and treats. If costumed children knocked on my door a day early, would they expect more than a Twix? Would I need to set candy aside for the diehards who bucked the system and came knocking Sunday night?

As it turned out, there were no diehards in Mobile. The city declared Saturday, Oct. 30, Halloween and somehow, the world kept right on spinning. And Mom kept right on laughing.

Now that I am older and can pick my own costume, Halloween has become a favorite of mine, too. My favorite ones have been those I’ve spent with my nieces. Fortunately, my sister has almost always allowed them to choose their own costumes.

This year, the 3-year-old asked to dress up as the scariest thing she knew: broccoli. She asked me to join her and dress as scary broccoli, too. And I might just do it. Of course, it could only happen if high school football trumps Halloween in Mobile and I can celebrate the holiday in all its glory when I am off Nov. 1.

Maybe, the true sign I’ve taken root in Alabama is that I’ll move Halloween to suit my personal schedule. Yes, come Saturday, this “Southern Belle” will be the scariest broccoli Mobile has ever seen!