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Ah hiv lang been thirlt tae the idea that keepin awa the ghaisties said tae flee aboot in the mirk on 31 October shuid be nae mair than a semple wee acknowledgement o the auld conventions; cairit oot in an aroond the hoose, on ae particlar nicht wi the bairns an faimily thegither. In ma ain young days, there warnae ony Halloween pairties ootwith o fowk’s hooses or on ither days. An they warnae caa’d ‘pairties’ either; it wis juist Halloween.

But, wi the seemin muive awa fae faimilies daein things for theirsels or e’en thegither, Halloween nae langer belangs juist in the hoose, but tae scuils, function rooms, offices, discos, TV adverts, eatin places an mair. Bairns the day can hae twa or three Halloweens. An o coorse, the muckle retailers wha, haein gotten their corporate haunds on it, hiv makkit it intae a hale season! Tae ma mind, it haes spylt the hale thing.

Gaein throu the aisles o a supermercat the ither day, ah gied a muckle souch for thae sempler days o lang syne. Sic sichts! The orange pumpkins unner signs proclaimin ‘Trick or Treat!’, the aisles stappit fou wi aa mainer o bairns’ fantoosh dressin up claes an pokey hats, rubbery glowerin hackit fause faces, sae real leukin as tae gie a fricht tae onybody, no juist wee tots. A weskit wi a muckle creepie crawlie speeder clingin ontae the back — it wis a Halloween ootfit for a dug! Ah could anely píty the puir harrit mithers haein their lugs deavit by bairns greetin for the hunners o ower-priced geegaws.

Whan ah wis a bairn, ma mither anely haed tae buy a neep tae mak a lantren, aipples for dookin, an a puckle o nuts. We bairns makkit oor ain pokey hats oot o pentit newspapers an dressed oorsels up for guisin in claes borraed fae oor mither’s wardrobe.

Oor faimily’s Halloween aye stertit wi makkin the lantren. Us bairns aa haed a shottie o howkin oot the inside o the neep wi the tattie knife. But it wis oor aulder brither wha did the last bittie, cuttin oot a hole tae haud the caundle, than the een, neb an a mou fou o jaggit teeth.

Efter oor tea, whan it stertit tae get daurk, oor mither wad get us peened intae oor lang trollopy guisin claes. A wee bit soot fae the lum tae mak a wee mouser or a dab o her lipstick for rosy cheeks. We thocht we leukit juist grand! We war anely alloued tae guise at oor ain bit o the street, an at juist twa or three doors. Sae excitit, we wad gae oot, chap the first door, an whan it opened we chantit ‘Please tae help the guisers, we wull sing ye a bonnie wee sang.’ We wad than be invitit tae dae a turn. Ah can mind singin ‘You made me love you’ an ma brither daein ‘Ma wee man’s a sodger’. For oor efforts we war thankit an gied a puckle o sweeties, aiblins a penny or twa afore we muived on tae the nixt hoose.

Whan we cam back in, the hoose wis daurk. The anely lichts cam fae the neep sittin on the mantelpiece an the fire bleezin in the grate. The windae shutters an aa the curtains drawn thegither agin ony stravaigin ghaisties or bogles! Oor mither aye telt us they micht no come tae oor hoose acause o the gless witchin bowl hingin abuin the lintel at the ootside door!

We did oor dookin kneelin on a chair, hingin ower the back o it wi a fork atween oor teeth. Whan we haed aa catchit ae aipple, it wis time for the scone! A lang string abuin oor heids atween the door an the windae, wi a claggie treacle scone danglin fae it! Haunds ahint oor backs an blinndfoldit wi a cloot, ilka bairn wis birlt roond an pyntit at the string. We ettelt tae tak a bite oot o the scone that wis skelpin oor wee faces!

Efter sic guid fun, oor faces dichtit, it wis time tae coorie doun roond the deein fire, eat oor aipples whiles oor faither, leukin intae the coals, telt us ane o his ghaistie stories. He haed a fine wey wi a tale an wad hae us hingin on ivery wird. We war shuir we could hear the bogles ootside, bony fingers chappin the windae, the gruesie chitter o cauld air sweeshin throu oor hair an doun oor backs. Ilka year at the fínish, an wi a twinkle in his ee, he wad send ane o us ben the hoose for a message, kennin fine weel we war ower feart tae gae oot o the room by oorsels, so we aa haed tae gae thegither; creepin alang the lobby waa in the pitch black. It fairly gied us a fleg, an oor herts an heids a dirl but oh! hou we loed it aa!

Ah daur say bairns the day will get juist as guid a dirl fae their ain Halloweens as we did in oor time. But ah still wadnae chynge oors for theirs.