I live in a very small town. The official count on the official sign is officially 9200. It’s a family-oriented place, a great place to raise kids, but for some reason my neighborhood has always been Halloween-challenged. I think the doorbell rang twice last year. Maybe three times. I didn’t recognize the kids and let them take as much candy as they wanted. I’m always hopeful that the tide will turn and I’m always ready. Or maybe I just like mini Milky Way bars.
This is in direct contrast to the Halloweens of my childhood where I remember filling bags, dumping them out, and going back for more. In my Northeast Philadelphia row house neighborhood, that meant walking (running) up about ten or twelve steps, knocking on two doors (usually someone I knew lived inside), then hauling the loot back down the steps and a few yards down the sidewalk to the next steps and next set of doors. Over and over again. For blocks. For hours. After dark. With a gaggle of friends. Even on a school night.
My grown-up, suburban Halloweens have never matched those childhood Halloweens. Even after having kids, with trick-or-treat curfews (7pm!! Are you kidding?) and careful candy distribution, the holiday has lost its zip and its doo-da. Kids can’t even have Halloween parties anymore. It’s a Fall Festival. I get it. Times have changed. Candy is bad for your teeth. Not everyone celebrates everything. But really? One day a year to dress up and stay up late and pound the pavement begging for food is not going to hurt anyone.
But my Halloweens have not all been pathetic. Praise Pumpkins!
I think the best Halloween memories are from the years my family lived in Tucson, Arizona. After years on the East Coast and in the Midwest, a night outside in 70 degrees, no winter coats over or under costumes big-box store costumes, with the moon hanging full and low in the sky, was really one of the best things about living there. It was one of the best things ever – even as the mom. Every year I remember the two Halloweens we spent in the Sonoran Desert, with flashlights to guide us, not so we didn’t trip over princess or Batman gear, but so that we didn’t trip over a snake. My kids may not remember the cook-outs beforehand, where the neighbors we knew along with the ones we’d never met would gather at the end of the cul-de-sac for hot dogs. Where the lady on the corner left paper sacks out on her doorstep and instructed each child to take one — and how they did. My kids probably don’t remember crossing the dry wash (a long-ago, dried-up stream bed) with tentative steps to go to the next street, and start all over again. How every house was ablaze with decorations, how being tired in the morning was not a concern. How no one said, “You have enough candy.” How everyone said, “Just one more house.”
Or, that might have just been me.
What is your favorite Halloween memory? And more important, what’s your favorite Halloween candy?
Image: Full Moon by Jaime Jaime Junior