I like Halloween. I have friends who despise it. They think of it as an evil holiday. I have others who find it fun and still others who’ve just outgrown the whole business.
Me, I just like the cool weather. I enjoy the turn of the season, the spookiness is my favorite part. Have you ever walked through a decorated neighborhood at night…alone…while the cold wind is blowing and the crunchy leaves are swirling behind you making unexpected noises? I have. And those things your neighbors have hanging from the trees? They’re scary as all getout without the light of the sun to cast away the shadows and secrets.
In my neighborhood, when my son was younger, we had 12 kids on the block that all started kindergarten together. Most of them had older siblings. Halloween in our neighborhood was pure chaos. The doorbell started ringing at 4 pm and didn’t stop til long after dark. Parents in large groups wandered around with their drinks in red solo cups, or warm toddies in a Thermos. They all waved and laughed as they stood near the sidewalk.
One neighbor set up an outdoor theatre with Young Frankenstein blasting on speakers and projected onto the front of his house as kids came through. Another stood as still as one of the mummies on his porch while dressed up as Frankenstein, and then jumped out at little ballerinas and Ninja turtles. The screaming could be heard for blocks. The kids loved it. And yet another neighbor dressed as an ogre and chained himself to the front lawn. He growled and shrieked and the kids attempted to get their treats from him.
“Hey, does your wife know what you’re doing?” I called to him.
“Who do you think chained me up out here?”
We were a fun bunch. The kids even had a house that they refused to visit, because they thought a “mean, old man” lived there. Probably the only sane person in the neighborhood.
But now, times have changed.
And for the first time in 20 years, we made the decision to avoid a public Halloween. No candy, no treats. Our lights will be off. It matters that many of the kids in the neighborhood are grown–off to college, working their own jobs. But there are still young ones of new families that have moved in.
We will celebrate at home: a cozy meal, warm orange lights over the fireplace, decorations. But no treats will be given. The door will go unanswered. The pandemic is too much. Better for kids to be safe (and us as well). Parents can splurge on candy. Young ones can find another way. I’m out this year.
Despite the changing times, you can still enjoy a decorated house. Here are a few of my past Halloween posts, and a video at the end of a display at our house. Be safe, enjoy, carry on.