It's only August, but we are already starting the debates on what we want to be for Halloween this year. You have to start early if you want to get your favorite costume, as we learned last year. We haven't come to any firm decisions yet, but it got me thinking about my Halloweens as a kid.
One year my cousins and I decided we would put together a Halloween party. Though I grew up in Houston, we spent a lot of weekends in the country. My grandparents have a little farm in East Texas, and me, my sisters and our cousins spent hours playing in the gully and woods in the horse pasture. The animals had created paths through the woods, and we created and named our own landmarks, like the Indian Village, where we constructed a circle of lean-tos (thanks to the newly-gleaned knowledge of my boyscout cousin) around a "campfire." The girls named things like "The Friendship Tree," and "The Peaceful Meadow," while the boys came up with "Blood Hill" and etc. Ha!
Anyway, we knew this wood so well, we decided we wanted to spook our parents by taking them on a tour of "The Haunted Wood" on Halloween night. One person would act as a tour guide, leading all the grown-ups along the paths, where ghosts of the Indians who once inhabited the wood would jump out at them and dead bodies would dangle out of trees above the trails. We had maps, schedules, even recorded sound effects, and were ready to scare the socks off our guests. The grand finale was to be at the Indian Village, where we would communicate with the Great Indian Spirits, and they wouldn't be too happy that we were there.
We rehearsed our plot, and it went off without a hitch. But, uh...doing it in the dark was another thing. Especially when one cousin (who shall remain unnamed because it was me) suggested that the cousins who were going to be the spooks should not carry flashlights because then the grownups would where they were going and wouldn't be surprised when someone jumped out at them. The Unnamed Cousin acted as tour guide, so luckily for her, she did get a flashlight.
There she was, leading a line of soon-to-be-terrified grown-ups into the woods. She stopped at the first designated scary spot and instructed her guests to listen to the ghosts of Indians. The ghosts were supposed to issue a foreboding warning about what was to come, but instead heard something like "mwaaa mwaaaaa mwa mwaaaaaaaaaaa mwa." Amazingly, the cousin who had been assigned the leave the tape recorder at that spot had made it in the dark without a flashlight, but not before tripping several times over tree roots and etc. and dropping the tape recorder hard. It never worked again.
Along the path the group traipsed, with several spooks jumping out at the right time, even eliciting one startled scream out of an Aunt. Then the guide began to lead them uphill towards the Indian Village, where they would all soon be screaming in terror (insert evil laugh here). However, the tour guide, even with her flashlight, soon lost her way in the dark woods. After several minutes of searching for the haunted Indian Village, the tour guide stopped and called into the darkness, "Oh, Great Indian Spirits, call to us so that we can find your village."
The Great Indian Spirits heard her and answered back, "We can't find it, either!"
Eventually, the tour guide and her group of grown-ups did make it to the Indian Village, but by that time they were laughing more than screaming. Ahhh well, it was a good try. So, the tour guide and the spooks all made it back alive to the farmhouse, where the younger cousins (who said no-way no-how were they going into the woods on Halloween after dark), had set out a lovely spread of Halloween refreshments.
That was a fun day...such happy memories of times spent with my family. Somehow, I don't think the memory would have been quite as pleasant if the trek through the Haunted Wood had gone as planned.