Friday, November 11, 2011

My Favorite Holiday ... Halloween

For the past six months, I have been attending Toastmasters meetings twice a month.  While I had participated in some of the roles during the meetings, I hadn't yet gotten up the nerve to do my first speech. In Toastmasters, they call this the "Icebreaker Speech," and the target is to speak for 4-6 minutes about the topic you know most about - yourself.  For my speech, I chose to talk about my favorite holiday, Halloween.

When I sat down to write my speech, I wasn't sure how to get started. So, I decided I would pretend I was writing a blog entry and go from there.  I present to you my Icecreaker Speech, which I presented to my Toastmasters group on Thursday, October 27. Final time was 6:38 so it was a little too long, but otherwise it was a success!

===

What is your favorite holiday? Though I love the anticipation of Christmas and the lazy warm Fourth of July weekend, there is one holiday that stands out for me as the most fun. It is a holiday to look forward to, one to plan ahead for, one to get really excited about. I love Halloween.


As a child growing up in a small town in South Dakota (population 742), what I remember the most about Halloween was going out Trick-or-Treating with my friends. I must have been 9 or 10 I suppose for the Halloweens that I remember, but we would get all dressed in our costumes, and the goal was to hit every house in town. We didn’t even use those little plastic pumpkins – they didn’t hold enough candy - we used pillowcases. And sometimes, we had to stop back at home to drop off our loot before heading out to hit the rest of town.

One thing I remember about bringing home all of my candy, after visiting as many houses in town as we could, was that my sister and I would sit in the middle of the living room floor and dump all of our candy out in piles. We had to keep our piles separate of course, because it’s not like we wanted to share any with each other. Mom and Dad would come in and check out everything that we got. My dad always suggested that we take all of the “good” candy bars – you know the ones, the Snickers, Kit Kats, Butterfingers – and put them in a freezer bag to go in the freezer for safekeeping. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that I didn’t remember ever eating any of those candy bars out of the freezer. Turns out we gave our parents a secret stash of frozen candy bars. I guess they ate them at night after we went to bed.

In my family, we never carved pumpkins … but my Mom liked to do crafts, and she would always paint funny faces on pumpkins for our front porch.

Through high school and college, Halloween didn’t seem to be that big of a deal. I remember one year in college, we found a box of my aunt’s old clothes from the 70s and we all dressed up like hippies and went out downtown. Otherwise, my love for Halloween didn’t really resurface until after I was out of college.

A good college friend of mine, Leslie, and I moved to Galveston, Texas after we graduated from college. The first Halloween spent in Galveston, we had this big idea to carve pumpkins to decorate the front step of our apartment. In South Dakota, where it is in the 30s and 40s in October, people always carve pumpkins up to a couple weeks before Halloween. Since it is so cold outside, the pumpkins stay preserved and still look great by actual Halloween. So, at some point in the middle of October we set out to carve pumpkins. Now, remember I never did this as a kid – so this was my first pumpkin carving experience. We were so proud of our pumpkins. Unfortunately, in Galveston in October, the temperature is more like 70 every day – not 30 … so our pumpkins didn’t even make it to October 20.

After living in Galveston for 2 years, I moved to North Carolina with my boyfriend at the time, who was in the Coast Guard and got transferred to the Outer Banks. For three years, I lived on Hatteras Island – and one of the best parts about it was the local bar’s annual costume party.

One year on Hatteras Island, I shopped on eBay for us – brown polyester Levi’s and a disco shirt for my boyfriend, and a brown and orange checkered polyester dress for me. His costume was accompanied by a black curly haired wig, and mine a long blonde haired wig. We looked groovy.

The next year, I wanted to be a saloon girl, and he was going to be a cowboy. I shopped on eBay for the perfect dress, and got a little too competitive one night – I spent way more money on my dress than I had intended, but I was determined that was my Halloween dress, so I “won” the auction. Meanwhile, we bought some red and brown canvas fabric for him, and a friend I worked with made him a red cowboy shirt and a brown trench coat. We got a leather cowboy hat at the local beach souvenir store.

After three years of living on Hatteras Island, my boyfriend and I parted ways, and I moved to Wilmington. I bought a house, met my current boyfriend, and started thinking of my next Halloween costume. Two years ago, I found a light pink and white polka dotted prom dress at the thrift store, and I was a psycho prom queen. Last year, I missed Halloween due to a work trip that took me to San Antonio, so I am extra excited for Halloween this year.

I decorated the house last weekend, complete with Halloween-themed paper blacking out my windows, with orange lights behind that make the pictures in the window glow on the outside. We have a few ghosts hanging in the trees, and the candy bowl is ready for Trick-or-Treaters.

I bought us two pumpkins that are perfect for carving, but I learned years ago, you can’t carve them too early when you don’t live up north, so we plan to carve them this weekend. Saturday or Sunday I imagine, so they still look good for the Trick-or-Treaters on Monday night.

To make up for missing Halloween last year, I am going to have three different costumes this year. Friday night, I am going to play Bunco with some girlfriends. The theme is “pink,” to support Breast Cancer Awareness month, so you can wear any kind of costume you would like, as long as it is pink. I am going with an 80s punk look, with pink hairspray, a pink striped vest, black skirt, black nail polish and pink leg warmers. On Saturday night, our neighbors are having a costume party, where I will be dressing in a black robe and going as an insane clown (like the infamous band Insane Clown Posse whose popularity peaked in the 90s), with white and black makeup and spiked braids in my hair. Sunday night, there is a break in the action, but I may dress up as something anyway.

Monday, the grand finale, brings us to actual Halloween. To prepare for the Trick-or-Treaters, my Monday costume is going to be a zombie. I have my outfit nearly ready, with some embellishments from the fabric store waiting for final assembly. My boyfriend is also going to be a zombie, so we have our fake blood and cream makeup ready for application.

We have two dogs – a golden retriever and a beagle. On Halloween night, we sometimes have up to 100 Trick-or-Treaters, and 100 doorbell rings is just too many in one night for the dogs to handle, so we usually just sit on the front porch and wait for the kids to come. We take the CD player outside and play my “Monster Hits” Halloween CD. On repeat … over and over, until there are no more kids.

So, whether your favorite holiday is Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Fourth of July, or another holiday, I suggest to you this – don’t forget Halloween. Wear a costume, decorate your house, bake something with pumpkin in it, carve or paint pumpkins, buy candy for the Trick-or-Treaters. It’s so much fun!