Halloween is just around the corner. We aren’t planning to dress up and go trick or treating, but we still look forward to the holiday for many reasons…. not just nostalgia for the days when our kids would dress up and go trick-or-treating.
Ellen has a box of twinkle lights and Halloween decorations squirreled away in the attic. This weekend she’ll haul it downstairs, and you’ll find her outside sweating and struggling to set up her fabulous outdoor display. She goes a little overboard because she doesn’t do Christmas lights, but she does do Halloween – with strings of white ghost-y lights in the trees, an electric spider, and reflective bats lining the walkway. Even though her kids are grown, she wants to keep her reputation intact as the nice lady at the end of the block who decorates her house for the neighborhood kids.
Last year, she was missing all of the Halloween excitement – helping the kids choose costumes, decorating the house, chairing the elementary school Pumpkin Fair – so she made a lonely trip to the store and bought last-minute, 50% off Halloween tchotchkes that weren’t even good enough to save for this year. She’ll be back in the Halloween aisle on Oct. 30.
Candy appeared in the supermarket the day after Labor Day. We noticed because we had to hold ourselves back from buying bags of snack-sized Kit Kat bars. Who are we kidding? If we bought those tempting so-tiny-that-eating-one-doesn’t-count candy bars that early, we would only have three left to give out on Halloween.
But when the week of Halloween finally comes and we are ready to purchase candy, we have to decide whether to buy the candy we hate (Sour Patch Kids, Warheads, or Sweet Tarts) so we don’t eat it, or the candies we love (York Peppermint Patties, Mounds bars and Snickers.) Who are we kidding? We bought both.
When we were kids, we loved all the sticky candies (Turkish Taffy, Jujubees and Jujyfruits), but now the thought of pulling out a filling or breaking a tooth from a bad bite frightens us away from buying those choices. That bite of Turkish Taffy could cost us $675 to re-glue the crown on our left front incisor.
A quick search online clued us in to this year’s “hot new costumes,” which aren’t that new: Star Wars, Disney princesses, and Superman are popular. After our city hosted Pope Francis last weekend, we have to admit, we did like the Pope outfit for your dog.
Group costumes are in style, too, but to wear these, you have to have a group – a fraternity, a crowd of housemates, or drinking buddies. We each have only one husband– hardly a group. And we have enough trouble dressing him up to go to a family wedding. We downsized and googled couple’s costumes. We’ll have a hard time convincing our husbands to be a giant sombrero-wearing taco (we’d be the salsa) or the sword-bearing, leather thong-wearing hero from Game of Thrones, but they might not mind being the bagel with lox to go with our cream cheese.
These days, when homeroom moms are requested to bring in carrots and hummus in place of cupcakes for a birthday celebration, we will not be browbeaten into giving out toothbrushes to the trick-or-treaters. We want to be known as the house that gives out the “good stuff.” But we are also aware that there are now peanut-free tables in school cafeterias. We don’t want to make our neighbors with food allergies miss out. There’s a national campaign to mark houses that are giving out allergy-friendly treats with teal pumpkins. We probably won’t paint our pumpkins teal, but we want to be inclusive so we’ll also be giving out Twizzlers, bubble gum and spider rings.
We’re excited for Halloween. We love to open the door and see the cute little kids in costumes. We encourage them to take more than one, even if their parents admonish them to, “Say please! Take just one.” We even like the fourth-grade boys who grab a big handful and the teens who can’t resist dressing up “for just one more year” to collect a bagful of candy.
So after dinner on Oct. 31, we won’t head upstairs and get into our pajamas like it’s a regular night. We’ll hang out downstairs waiting for the doorbell to ring, because Halloween isn’t just a regular night.