I am a huge fan of eleventh hour preparations but this year I bought my Halloween candy three weeks ahead of schedule. And proceeded to open the bag exactly two weeks and 5 days ahead of schedule. Still, I bought enough candy to feed a small country so I was completely disheartened when the rain started falling and I got exactly ONE trick-or-treater who took exactly ONE piece of candy. And THEN my neighbor posted that she got three kids and I’m all like, WTF? What happened to the other two between her yard and mine?

Got me thinking about Halloween past… of when I was a child and went trick-or-treating with my friend and her two older sisters. We’d start in her neighborhood before venturing out onto neighboring roads with dozens more houses, or at least it seemed that way to seven- or eight-year-old me and – knowing today where her house was and how far we walked down the  road – I’m pretty sure we walked well over a mile or two on country roads without a care in the world. In those days the biggest fear we had was biting into an apple with a razor blade in it.

We carried paper grocery bags that were full by the time we made our way back to the house where our mothers were waiting. I literally cannot believe our mothers just let us roam without a second thought. We were YOUNG. Holly’s sisters were young teens. We went inside strangers’ homes where they’d try to guess if they knew us while we stood in awkward silence, shaking our heads, in too-warm living rooms waiting for the payout.

I remember trick-or-treating with my stepsister and her friends once, in the apartment complex where they lived. She donned a big black Hefty trash bag and went as a “rock.” Most creative AND most invisible because when we rang the doorbell, she’d crouch down near us and everybody got candy but her. Because a rock can’t hold out a candy bag.

One year my mom made us matching clown suits. Another year she made me a lion costume out of yards of fake fur. I don’t know when I stopped dressing up for Halloween.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and I took my own children out in the town we once lived in. Sweet little town with one Main Street running through it, scores of kids and their parents walking from house to house – it’s so well known that families come from other towns to trick-or-treat there. Joyce, my mom-partner in crime, would come to our house with her two and we’d walk up to Main Street (I lived half a block away) and watch our kids weave through the crowds, greeting friends from school.

One Halloween was a balmy 70 degrees and beautiful. This year’s Halloween reminded me of one of our last there – as per the usual plan, Joyce was coming over and we’d all go out together, but it started raining. And it wasn’t just a gentle, manageable mist, it was torrential. Joyce said she was going to wait an hour and see.

Meanwhile, back at my house, Veruca had a meltdown because we weren’t going out. It lasted a whole hot minute before her dad told me to “just take them out quick for a couple pieces of candy” before the night was over. So I grabbed an umbrella and took the two kids up the street in the wind and rain. By myself. We got a little wet but the rain stopped and we were out for a good forty-five minutes. The kids had a ball, got lots of good candy, remembered to say thank you and went home happy. Well, not before V’s bag got dragged long enough on the wet sidewalk that it broke and I had to stuff her candy into my pockets, but NOT IN O’s bag because, “it’s not his!”

Main Street, full of Victorian homes in our old town, was like stepping into a Hallmark movie. The funeral home always had a life-size Freddy by the front door. Because of the sheer volume of kids, the candy was mostly the most economical – hard candies, Tootsie rolls, and lollypops. Except for this one house, where the lady invited the kids to come inside so she could meet each one and for that they were awarded a FULL SIZE chocolate bar and while my 21st century dander-up-this-is-weird spidey senses tingled, this b*tch had clearly spent a fortune on Halloween and O got a king size Hershey Bar!

Here in Maryland country, we trekked around our neighborhood in near pitch-blackness with a flashlight, but V made out like a kid in a candy store because here everybody is giving the good stuff. O decided he was too old for costumes so he just walked with us. And it was damn cold. I mean COLD. The last year V went out, she went to her friend’s neighborhood and I waited for her to call me when it was time to get picked up.

I was so excited when Halloween fell on a Saturday in 2020… I had planned to throw a party and dress up and all that and then – Covid. The night evolved into a decorated front porch with no-contact bags of candy clothes-pinned to a string I had tied across the railing and we waived to the kiddos from the window. I was quite proud of myself for the effort.

This year, one of the nurses at work made Halloween t-shirts for all of us – orange (jack-o-lantern), black (ghost or mummy faces), and green (Frankenstein). We have the most fun in the office when we’re celebrating something – so there was also a big spread of food everyone contributed to. I also wore my cat ears, because, well… MEOW.

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