Today is Halloween, and it’s cold, though the sun is out. Yellow oak leaves hang in bunches outside my window.
I have shiny black bats fashioned out of trash bags taped to the exterior of my house and have gone on another trip to the store to stock up on candy for trick or treaters that might stop by later.
I used to love Halloween—there was an excitement unlike any other, except maybe Christmas.
I loved the weeks of planning costumes, the Elementary school Halloween parades and end of day class parties with macabre themed desserts and pin-the-head-on-the-mummy games.
I remember when I was young going trick or treating with my siblings. We’d always start out together, the older siblings escorting us younger ones, per our parents, expressed rules, who then ditched us as soon as we got out of sight of our house.
My older brothers would travel far and wide with pillowcases instead of the small plastic pumpkin buckets. They would make the rounds, return home, change into secondary costumes and head back out for more—and maybe they only did this once, but it was smart and clever enough I’ve tricked my memory into thinking it happened a lot.
Halloween was the one night a year where every child of every age was released into the Suburbian wild and allowed to dress like someone else and beg for candy. Cars would park outside neighborhoods. Kids moved in swarms, trading secrets with fellow travelers over which houses to go to and which ones to skip—I received two toothbrushes one year before I got wise.
On our journey, we’d swap notes of the houses where rich people lived the ones who gave out full-sized candy bars. I would plan on getting there sometime, maybe that night, perhaps the next year, because usually, the rich people lived so far away. It was exactly one time I made it far enough to get one of those full-sized candy bars—a Hershey’s bar—candy never tasted so good.
I remember long stretches of frozen fingers and toes while treading up steep hills filled with endless Gypsy’s and pink Princesses, and Cowboys and masked monsters or He-man’s lining the sidewalks. I remember the threat of older boys making rounds, stealing from the younger, the weaker of the flock—though I never came across any. We would roam from house to house, cross street after street and stay out past the time when the streetlights first turned on. On Halloween eve, the only curfew depended on when houses ran out of candy or on tiredness, and there was plenty of fuel to replenish us as we went. I would try to eat as much candy as I could before getting home—not because I would be limited once clearing the threshold, but rather for the principal of the night.
Halloween was amazing once, and it is now, but not in the same way. Still, I wouldn’t trade those memories for a million full-sized candy bars, nor would I swap them for the memories I have of this night and spending it with my own kids!