It was in the upper 40’s and clear last night. A beautiful night for trick-or-treating. DW took The Hare out with a group of neighborhood friends while The Tortoise got to walk without an adult this year, three pre-teen girls giggling and gallivanting around among ghosts and goblins. Our neighborhood celebrates big and this year was no exception. There were tractors pulling flat beds full of hay and truckloads of chatty children, hopping on and off their chariots. Many families host potluck parties in their garages, while others huddle around fire pits in the driveways. This is only our third Halloween in this house and we haven’t quite figured out our tradition. Next year. Maybe.
For now, it is just me and Luna with a cup of coffee, passing out candy. A few neighbors have already tagged our house the “cool jack-o-lantern” house.
For the past two years DW’s pumpkins had a Texas theme, but unfortunately since his beloved alma mater UT’s football team is not doing as well without Colt McCoy, he opted for a more traditional carving.
Once the streets were quiet again, children inside poured out over-filled contents of pillow cases and grocery bags. Siblings and friends trading sweets. Our girls took hot showers to warm up their frozen bones and numb fingers, then we all piled on the couch in our pajamas to watch Extreme Home Make-Over. Our Sunday tradition. It was a good night.
I have recently started writing for one of our local parent journals, The Livingston Parent Journal. Here is my October article:
I still remember a moth ball scented, Peptobismal pink, fuzzy bunny costume I wore in elementary school for Halloween. It was a hand-me-down from someone at church. In fact, I remember all of my Halloween costumes as a kid. There were only two. The bunny suit and a crayola crayon my parents made out of posterboard and free-handed the words with black Sharpie pens. They were pretty impressive, actually. The dunce-cap hats made great sharpened tips but what they hadn’t counted on was my inability to bend my knees. The tube reached mid-calf, so I shuffled my feet down the sidewalk. I couldn’t tie my shoes or take too many stairs. My folks were kind of anti trick-or-treating. I never really understood why, except that my dad was in law enforcement and drilled into me the importance of checking the candy and knowing all the neighbors.
Halloween was a family pizza night and then something fun like bowling or putt-putt golf. My favorite part was getting to eat dessert at a restaurant.
I never felt slighted as a kid,but I’ve still opted for a more traditional Halloween , complete with fancy costumes made or ordered by the beginning of October. (I learned the hard way that if you wait too long, there is heck to pay when JoJo the Clown is sold out.)Days before, I dredge the kids through mucky meadows to pick out the perfect carving pumpkins. On Halloween, all our neighbors drag tables, chairs and sometimes fire pits to the end of the driveways. There are chili stations, hotdogs grilling,popcorn machines,and hot chocolate. Typically the dads escort while the moms hang out and chat. Sometimes there are children being hauled around in wagons or ATV’s decorated in the Halloween spirit. Front lawns are well lit with ghosts and goblins or rows of home-made luminaria. It is a neighborhood event.
Every family’s tradition is different. Some neighborhoods host progressive dinners on Halloween or big parties and haunted houses. Some simply walk around greeting their neighbors, showing off their creative costumes. I also find this “holiday” one of the few that don’t conflict with most people’s belief systems. Schools still host Harvest parties and costume parades. I gleefully participate by wearing silly buggy antennae and playing dress-up again. I also love how the smell of roasted pumpkin seeds and burning jack-o-lanterns signals the beginning of my favorite season. Fall. The promise of crisp days apple picking covered in a canopy of red, orange and yellow fluttering leaves.
But no matter how you acknowledge Halloween, what seems to have stayed the same since my childhood, is being together. It is a night to step outside the box and be something else; create fun memories.
I hold vivid Halloween images of my family laughing and enjoying our time together. Hopefully that is what my kids will remember too.