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Favorite Halloweens

Halloweens Past…
I grew up on a horseshoe-shaped dirt road in Michigan. Most of the houses on our road had kids in them, and our road was a great place for trick-or-treating. There were only two far-apart streetlights, lots of trees and shadowy yards, and almost every house was open for visitors.
My dad would bring an enormous flashlight and the cats would follow along behind us as we canvassed the neighborhood. Our favorite house was one we called “The Long Driveway.” Dad stood at the end of it and we entered the long, dark drive as a pack of terrified, thrilled kids. I suppose the driveway wasn’t really that long, but since we couldn’t see the house from the road, it seemed truly scary!
One of our neighbors had a little white barbershop (with a striped pole, of course) in his front yard. He gave out homemade suckers. Our own family’s homemade treat was popcorn balls. I remember the year that we started to put tags on them with our name and phone number. People all of a sudden had gotten scared of their kids taking homemade goodies.
Halloweens More Recent…
Our road is similar to the one I grew up on, except we have no streetlights and the Long Driveway house is gated. Although more kids have moved in (and birthed in!) to the neighborhood lately, the street is dominated by older folks with grown kids. A growing number of our neighbors are weekend people, as property values rose and families looked elsewhere. Most of the kids go to other neighborhoods to trick-or-treat.
When our son was in preschool, I took him to downtown Santa Cruz every year to see the costumes and get a few treats. He didn’t actually like candy, so we were mostly there for the experience. He didn’t want to go out trick-or-treating till he was about four. It may have been that year or the next that we started a short-lived tradition with neighbors who moved away last year.
When our son was ready to start going out in the evening, these neighbors invited all the kids on our end of the block to go together. We arrived at their house to find a glass of wine and the parents dressed up even goofier than the kids. We mosied around the neighborhood, going mostly to the houses of people we knew. (Most of the others were dark.) One of our neighbors, who raised her own kids on our street, was particularly eager to see us because knowing that our son didn’t like candy, she’d gone out and gotten him a helium balloon! Another neighbor had a bowl of oddities that she’d collected over the years; our son chose a painted egg that he still treasures. Another neighbor had standard candy but offered refills for our wine glasses!
We approached one house that was all lit up and welcoming, though we didn’t know the people who lived there. A woman threw the door open and happily announced, “I’ve been waiting for you for ten years!”
This Year…
Our fun neighbors moved away, another girl is out of town due to a family emergency, and it looks like we’re going to go it alone. But I think we’ll resist the temptation to go to a busier neighborhood. At least some of our neighbors are waiting for us with a special treat or at least a smile and a few kind words. And who knows…the gate may just be open on the Long Driveway.

Posted in Parenting.

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