Don’t be afraid Little Red. Halloween isn’t scary in our neck of the woods.
I’ve heard all the naysayers talk about Halloween– too much candy, ties to the occult, fostering greed in children– but I see it completely differently.
The last day of October sprinkles magic all over my neighborhood. Cheerful clusters of parents, grandparents and toddlers stream to the elementary school to cheer on every child in the Halloween parade. Happy preschoolers sing “Five Little Pumpkins,” neighbors call back and forth as they loan costumes and hats, a bit of ribbon, brown boots, a plastic sword.
We went with an ‘into the woods’ theme this year. Hans as Hansel (no Gretel), Mary, Xander and Molly as Little Red, the Woodsman and the Wolf dressed as Grandma, Erik and I as Robin Hood and Maid Marion. Gabe stretched the theme into the jungle as the Man in the Yellow Hat with our darling friend George as Curious George.
I was wrapping Gabe’s still-wet-from-spray paint-hat in plastic wrap when friends started arriving to our next door neighbor’s pre-trick or treat party. I sent Mary out to the garden to gather the last of our roses for her flower crown. The crown took less than two minutes– no lie– beauty hides in chaos.
I believe Halloween can bring out the best in people. What other night of the year do people decorate their porch, stand by the door and offer treats to everyone who passes by? It’s an opportunity to chat with neighbors you rarely see, to introduce yourself to the new move-ins, compliments and smiles are traded freely, cars creep cautiously down the street anxious to avoid little trick or treaters.
We tend to go pretty low key with our offerings– a few pumpkins on the doorstep and a bowl of assorted candy, but many of my neighbors go all out– scones served in the driveway, rows of intricately carved pumpkins, hot chocolate on the front porch, big scoops of ice cream, a sheet hung in front of the garage serving as a screen for Halloween cartoons played through the evening, donuts fresh out of the fryer, apple cider, a bonfire with sticks and marshmallows, squares of chocolate and graham crackers.
My favorite decorations are photos from past Halloweens; dead flowers only add to the charm.
Molly looks oh-so cooperative, but most of our photos went like this…
My kitchen counter before leaving for the party next door.
Jeannine and Marlowe– our brilliant hosts– as Miss Peacock and Colonel Mustard.
Every party needs an Anna and an Elsa– and you won’t find a cuter pair than this.
Susannah surprised us with three legs this year (two of them prosthetic).
Jon and Leslie as Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons– I love them. Seriously, who looks this good in their mid-forties?
Ghostbusters. This darling family always has the best themed costumes. And I love Gabe’s balloons photobombing behind them.
ready to trick or treat
on a gorgeous, gorgeous night.
Erik and I were lucky enough to wander the neighborhood with six lovely, cheerful little girls. Racing from house to house, they complimented everyone on their decor, chose treats, yelled their thanks. At random intervals they sat on lawns, traded candy and rested tired feet. They looked out for each other, waited when one little girl couldn’t keep up, went to certain houses just to make each other happy. If one said, “I didn’t get any Butterfingers.” the other five eagerly searched through their bags to find one for her. When approaching one Maggie’s house the girls jumped on her playset, twisting and swinging. One bar broke and the little girl tumbled to the ground crying out her apologies. Maggie ran to her aid saying, “Are you OK? I don’t care one little bit about the bar. I just care about you.”
And that was the theme of the evening, “I don’t care about impressing people or looking awkward. I just want to make you smile, I just care about you.”
Thanks to all my neighbors for creating magic. For one of the most beautiful and generous nights of the year.