When I was eight or nine, I experienced a traumatic Halloween in the safety of suburban upstate New York. While I can’t remember my costume, I clearly remember the brand new cute plastic pumpkin that I was carrying to hold my stash of candy.
As my evening of ‘trick or treat’ came to a close the plastic handle from my pumpkin “purse” cut into my arm from the weight of my sugary loot. I was tired and lagging behind my friends. In the darkness, a boy approached. He was older than me and bigger than me.
In the blink of an eye, more quickly than a ghoul could say ‘BOO,” he grabbed my pumpkin with both hands and yanked it off my arm. As he ran off into the night, I cried: Someone stole my pumpkin!
My friends, intent on making it to a few more houses, were clearly annoyed and reluctant to hang out with the “cry baby” who should have been keeping pace with the masses and obviously didn’t put enough moxie in her struggle to keep the pirate at bay. My treasures were gone and there wasn’t going to be much sympathy. We went to a house and someone called my mother.
I went home with my tail between my legs, feeling scarred. The bloom was off the rose as far as Halloween went in my book.
Of course most of my Halloween memories are pleasant. I loved to dress-up and remember many of the costumes my mother helped my sister and I put together. One of my favorites was the year I dressed like a “flapper girl” from the roaring 1920s. A pink dress with fringe and a feather boa were the highlights of that costume.
Fast forward 40 years. Big Papa and I live on a street in a neighborhood where opening the door after dark isn’t exactly the wisest maneuver. For the past two years, on Halloween night, we’ve turned off the lights in the front of the house, holed up in the back of the house and pretended no one’s home.
Last year about 9:30 p.m., the door bell rang. We waited a minute or so and snuck into our dark living room to peer out the window. On our porch landing stood three teenagers, none of whom were in costume. Even if we had opened the door, and even if we had candy to dole out, I’m wasn’t up for playing ‘trick or treat’ with a bunch of freeloaders (or worse) who couldn’t even pony up a costume.
Truthfully, it makes me a little sad. As parents-to-be, dressing our little kiddo up in her first Halloween costumes are destined to be some of our earliest “wow, that was a hoot” memories. Sure there are plenty of areas in town where malls or businesses offer up a safe-haven to trick or treat for those of us who live in risky neighborhoods. But not being able to walk out our front door and knock on the door next door and the door after that is a bit of a downer. Half the fun (aside from a belly-ache worth of treats), is seeing Mr. and Mrs. Miller dressed up as mad scientists or running into that cute boy you have a first-grade crush on as you walk down your street checking out the faux spider webs covering the Davis’ house and the ten Jack-o-lanterns heading up the walkway to the McNally’s house.
No matter the perceived or actual danger of living in a less-than-safe neighborhood, I am looking forward to sharing the festivities with our wee one. Carving a pumpkin and cooking up the pumpkin seeds, watching her eyes open wide when she spots a larger-than-life Tinkerbell or screaming in fright when she comes eyeball to eyeball with the scary green monster. We’ve waited a long time to jump into the kiddy pool of holiday festivities. Becoming parents via adoption sure has been tricky, but I’m hoping being parents is going to be a treat.