Halloween is one of those holidays when, as a parent, you get to re-live part of your lost childhood. You can wear a costume, spook people as they come to the door (even randomly on the street, if the mood strikes), make people touch wet spaghetti and peeled grapes, and no one would think poorly of you.
You can decorate your front door, spend hours carving up stray vegetables with sharp instruments, and act as crazy as is allowable by law. As an added bonus, there's all that candy. At what other point do you ever allow yourself such a large amount (not to mention a wide variety) of sweets?
Do you remember what Halloween was like when you were a kid? There was this exhilarating sense of freedom ... your parents open the front door and let your little costumed self fly right out the door. There was a feeling of fear, mixed with the tremendous responsibility that comes when a kid is allowed to choose his or her own path. In this case, it meant strategic route planning, a plan with this purpose: to extract highly sugared goods from the maximum number of neighboring homes.
The darkness, the temperature, the sound of leaves crunching under my feet, the rustling of costumes and the shrieks of children ... all of this adds up to this wonderful concoction that's as close to youth as we're going to get in the month of October. It all comes back to me every year.
Being such a young family (with children who are finally old enough to appreciate the holiday), I have been able to re-experience the joy of the season. And happily our own traditions have evolved as the years go by.
Emma had her own tradition: to wear her pink Barbie princess dress at every opportunity. But this year she's finally breaking away from it. She's going to be a witch instead.
Sarah was a lion last year. This time she's the one moving into the princess dress. They're both adorable when they're dressed up. And although I don't want to stereotype senior citizens as compulsive and heavy-handed candy distributors, many little old ladies gave them extra candy by virtue of their cuteness. I had to agree. They were pretty darn cute. They've learned VERY EARLY that cuteness = more candy.
As per the tradition we do our pumpkin carving the night before. Last year was the first time Sarah was able to wield a small knife (under supervision, of course) and take part in the traditional Disemboweling of the Gourd. I am fairly certain that sticking your hands in the depths of a pumpkin brings out certain primitive tendencies. Emma took great pleasure in the whole process. She took the whole thing very seriously. I have to admit, I get into the carving as well. In fact, it's my second-favourite part of Halloween.
Last year was the warmest Halloween I could remember. No parkas! Yay! Let me tell you: it sucks to wear a parka. It really lessens the impact of scary witch/sorcerer/whatever, so it was nice that the kids could do without this extra layer of clothing that is typically necessary in our climate.
We live in a good neighborhood for loot. There is a lot of good stuff doled out, mostly chocolate and chips. There are no orange-and-black wrapped filling-pullers or Thrills gum handed out here. (Is it me, or do Thrills taste exactly like shaving cream?) Most of the homes are open for business. And everyone who's trick or treated before knows to stay away from the ones that don't have their lights on because that means that they're not-participating in the Ritual Distribution of Candy.
Last year when the girls and I were walking along the street, part of the next house was obscured from my view, but I was able to see that the living room light was on. Emma was getting far ahead of me, so I shouted and directed her to go there. Suddenly, almost from nowhere, this lady appeared next to me.
"You know," she began, in this crisp voice. "The general rule of thumb [ed: italics denote the seriously irritating parts of this conversation] is that you look to see if the porch light is on. That's how you know that they're giving out Halloween candy."
Here I was, someone who was more than familiar with the North American tradition of candy collecting. Why was she telling me this? I was an expert in my day! The comebacks filled my mind afterwards. Many of which wouldn't be polite to write here. Besides, my children were well within earshot.
Anyway, when all was said and done our family divvied up the candy. We've managed to brainwash the girls into believing that Halloween is a season of sharing, and that they're required, by parental law, to let us eat some of their loot. I think that's a pretty sweet deal, don't you?