Halloween where I live now is a big deal. This is only our third Halloween, so we’re still getting it all figured out, but it’s definitely been a blast so far.
We were lucky that the first year our next door neighbors — the ones with no kids, so they’d think about the importance of this — warned up that they’d given out a couple hundred lollipops the year before. My husband kept a tally last year of trick or treaters. Grand total? 342. Seriously. And he didn’t count parents or double count the few groups that came through twice. Oh, and yes, I had to dip into our collected candy to have enough for everyone who came to the door.
How do you get so many? It’s actually pretty simple. We live in a neighborhood with 118 houses. We have sidewalks. Oh, and the rest of our school district — or at least the vast majority of the elementary school district — lives on acres. Literally. Two of the five towns nearest us have a five acre minumum, and the others are one or two acres. That doesn’t make for good trick or treating. I’ll have to take a picture this year of the cars filling the streets with people who hop out to trick or treat where I live. And yes, we only give one small bar to those people while giving three or four to the ones who live in our neighborhood.
I’ve also started hearing a lot about places that do trick or treating not on Halloween. That seems odd to me, and luckily it’s Halloween only for us. The elementary buses drop kids off right around 4pm, but we start seeing middle schoolers are early at 3:20.
I’m only mildly disappointed that I’ll miss out on one of the more disturbing sights this year. One street over, there’s been a woman who year after year has dressed as a slut-witch and been drinking at neighbor’s within shouting distance of her house. As you approach her house, she shouts “The candy’s on the truck! Take just a couple! The candy’s on the truck!” over and over again. This is the mom of a high schooler and a college aged kid. You can imagine how she looks in the slut-witch costume. It’s kind of like driving past a car accident. Unfortunately, she moved this year and a middle school teacher now lives in her house.
On the plus side, we have neighbors five houses south of us who cook hot dogs as their treat every year. I missed this the first year when Mister Man was three and Little Miss was in the Baby Bjorn, but I heard about it just after I returned from trick or treating from my husband who was anxious to know what I thought of the hot dogs. While I briefly considered walking down to get a hot dog, it wasn’t quite worth it. Last year, we planned it so that we got there about halfway through trick or treating so everyone got a snack before we continued on the inner ring of houses. And they were actually good hot dogs! Here’s hoping the economy hasn’t put the kibosh on that one.
There is a darker side to Halloween in our neighborhood, though.
I’m consistently disappointed by the language and behavior that I hear from the older kids who are allowed to trick or treat on their own. The way they talk about other people — including those within earshot — is deplorable. And the amount of swearing is really sad. I hate having the wee ones exposed to that. I’ve unfortunately never caught up to them to discuss it with them (I’m stupid like that but you’d be amazed how frequently it works), so we frequently have a sit down break to “count our candy” which gives them a chance to get out of earshot.
And last year, we had a disaster. Every year (ok, except this year because we’re in Orlando until the day before Halloween), we carve pumpkins. Essentially that means my husband painstakingly carves his single pumpkin for about five minutes while I spent hours completing the three for me and the wee ones. They go out on our porch to avoid putrefying in our house immediately and stay there until I need to toss them.
Trick or treating ends at 7pm by us, although we still have teens coming until almost 7:30. Turning out the lights is the time honored way of saying you’re done with Halloween, but being a schoolteacher and teacing middle school in district, my husband won’t turn off our lights until everyone around us already has. He has a huge fear of being egged or worse.
Last year, the lights went off, and we started putting the wee ones to bed. Unlike this year where a certain body part of witches is already freezing off, it was fairly warm, so we had the screen door open. We could hear laughing in the street as a band of kids wandered around. Then we heard silence for a moment, assuming they had moved on. Nope. Shortly thereafter, we heard a HUGE splat. It was pretty unmistakeable.
The porch light immediately went on, and we could see all four of our pumpkins smashed in the middle of the street. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy, but the perpetrators were long gone, although my husband did go in search of them. From talking to people I know, ours were the only pumpkins targeted.
Thanks a lot, boys. And yes, I’m going to make the radical assumption that it was boys. When the wee ones woke up, they were devastated that their pumpkins were smashed. I still get periodic questions about why someone would smash their pumpkins in the street. Of course, my plan had been to tell them that Halloween was over so we got rid of their pumpkins, but my mom told them what happened before we could warn her.
This year… it won’t be so easy. This year, my husband will stand in his costume — a dark Scream outfit, sans mask — in the landscaping in front after the lights are turned off. This year, we’ll wait. We know it’s coming. They don’t. When they approach our house, my husband plans to scare the crap out of them. My hope is that he gets a chance to let them know that they’re crushing small children’s imaginations when they do things like that. Or at the very least that he sees who is doing it and goes to their parents — except he’s already told me that he won’t. *I* might though if I know the parents.
So be warned. Halloween may be over when the lights go out, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to smash pumpkins. Ever. And as the wee ones get older, they’ll continue to have conversations from me about what proper Halloween behavior is — language, attitude, etc. Anyone want to guess how often we get a simple thank you? And once they’re done trick or treating? Come on inside to eat some pizza and watch movies with your friends. Roaming bands of kids is not ok. Here’s hoping that other parents (particularly those in my neighborhood) get on the stick. But with the ding dong ditching making a comeback, I’m guessing that isn’t going to happen.