Its no secret that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I like dressing up, and I love candy. So the opportunity to combine these two once a year really makes me happy.
I have fond childhood memories of dressing up in the crinkly plastic costumes of yesterday and wandering the neighborhood begging for candy like some sort of street urchin. My brother and I could barely wait for it to get dark before we set off on round one, often having to swing back by our own house to dump some of our stash before heading back out for another circuit or two. Most years, once we were finished lapping our own neighborhood, we would pile in the car and Mom would drive us to our grandparent's neighborhood for more goodies. (A few of their neighbors even gave out the Holy Grail of Trick-or-Treating: the full-sized candy bar!)
I can't tell you how many years my brother and I stood anxiously on the front porch our Grandparents' house while Mom hid in the car down the street.
"Trick-or-Treat," we would exclaim when Grandmother opened the front door (this being one of the few times that anyone used the front door.) "Grandmother, guess who's under these masks!"
Yeah, I was probably eight or nine before I finally figured out that we gave away the secret every year. But, bless her, she always acted surprised when we tore off our mask to reveal ourselves to her.
Then off we would go, round the neighborhood, to collect enough candy to last us until Easter. When the excitement wore off Mom would bundle us back into the car and we would wave to Grandmother, who was shutting off the lights in the hopes of discouraging the late night rush, and to Granddaddy, who was on the lookout for the kids who toilet papered his yard every year.
At home we were usually met at the door by a gleeful Dad, who couldn't wait to examine our candy under the guise of safety. In reality, I'm fairly certain he was making sure he got first pick of his favorites. I noticed his Snickers and Three Musketeers were never as squished as our candy that had to be checked for razor blades.
The sugar high led to the inevitable sugar crash, and I'm sure we often fell asleep dreaming of a magical Willy Wonka World of candy and chocolate.
As an adult, Halloween is mostly about my daughter. We've done the Family Costume thing, the annual visit to the Pumpkin Patch, and the school and church carnivals. As much as I love my daughter, and Halloween, these are difficult excursions due to my social anxiety and my OCD need to control everything.
Luckily, I have picked up a few great tips to help me cope along the way.
1. DO NOT, under any circumstances, allow your child to take a favorite lovey, binky, or blanky out with you when trick-or-treating. On one of our first Halloweens as a family, my daughter dropped her Tigger somewhere between our house and the church down the street. I was a long restless night of screaming, crying, and cursing while my husband and I took turns searching the neighborhood by flashlight for the little orange guy. Thankfully, when I went out at first light to search again, I found Tigger sitting on top of a neighbor's mailbox where some unsung Hero must have placed him after finding him. (Sadly, Tigger has since gone on to live a new life, somewhere in the vicinity of LAX. Longest flight of my life, from LA to Maui. Five hours of ear piercing screams of "Tigger!" alternating with heart wrenching sobs.)
2. When your child says that they can't wait to carve pumpkins what they really mean is that they can't wait to watch you carve pumpkins after they choose the most difficult pattern in the book. Your hands will go numb, and you will consider stabbing yourself more than once as your child complains that "this is taking FOREVER," all so you can watch your hard work literally turn to rot in just a few days. On a side note, I found a really cool Pinterest trick that shaves a lot of time off of Pumpkin Carving. If you have an electric drill, attach one of the beaters of your handheld mixer and use it to clean out the inside of your pumpkin. Took me about 3 minutes, as opposed to the 20 minutes it usually takes me to gut my pumpkin! Which brings me to my next point...
3. The simpler the pumpkin, there better. I took the easy way out this year. I spray painted my pumpkin black, carved one small whole, drew a cute little ghost on it, shoved in a spigot, and called it a day. Easiest pumpkin ever, no numb hands, tons of great compliments.
4.. No one but Mom will appreciate the hours spent planning out the Family Costumes. Each year, we have dressed as a trio of favorite characters. Tinkerbell with Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Dorothy with Scarecrow and Glinda. A family of Pirates. A trio of witches/ warlocks. Rey with Princess Leia and Han Solo. My daughter barely seems to notice, and my husband makes it clear that this wasn't his idea. But, wouldn't you know it, the first year I tell everyone to do their own thing Princess Peach and Mario end up going trick-or-treating with a 50's Diner Waitress. I feel a bit betrayed.
5. A little bit of wine in a travel mug goes a long way towards getting through the night. And, what do you know, my Pumpkin just so happens to double as a wine dispenser.
Anyways, Happy Halloween. I'll see you out there.
As I've been writing this, my daughter and dear hubby have been working on their pumpkin in the next room. I heard whine of the electric drill. I also heard her ask him if she can go to her room, to which he responded with a firm NO. Maybe next year we'll also have a Beer dispensing pumpkin.