This Halloween was the first time since I was thirteen years old that I trick-or-treated. I’ve never been the greatest fan of Halloween — there’s something creepy about dressing up in costume and going door to door. Oh, I know that’s the very thing that others love, but me? Not so much. This was the first year, however, that we felt the boys would enjoy it. Especially in light of the numerous pumpkin-, ghost-, and witch-inspired artwork that’s made its way home from school this past month. Or Sam’s non-stop talk of ghosts and vampires and five-pumpkins-sitting-on-the-gate. Not to mention the fact that this sensory-challenged child, especially where it concerns food, devoured an entire Snickers bar in under thirty seconds. Yeah, I thought Sam might get into the whole candy aspect if nothing else.
So we set out. The first door was opened by a scary witch and a barking Black Lab. Sam muttered, a little unsure, “It’s okay?” and held out his bag. Even I was a little wigged out, so when John (or rather, Elmo) screamed and melted into a fuzzy red puddle right there on the porch and made it clear that he would not be standing up again of his own accord — I understood. After walking up the hill with him clasped at my neck, I still understood but handed him to his dad.
Sam quickly got into the spirit though. No matter my prompts of “say ‘Trick or Treat'” and “Thank you!” As soon as the candy hit his bag, he’d announce “Next house!” John hung back in the relative quiet of the sidewalk, and seemed to enjoy this unprecedented event: surveying our dark neighborhood from the tall perch of his dad’s shoulders, as Sam tugged all of us along.
It’s been nearly thirty years and I still don’t love-love Halloween? But I will do this every year just to watch Sam break free and run to join a group of approaching children as they knocked on a door. No hesitation, no looking back at me. That soaring in my heart like a whisper “He’s going to be okay.” I will do this next year, too, with the hope that John may like candy then, that he may enjoy wearing another costume, and that he’ll let me hold his hand as we walk through our dark neighborhood, knocking on strange doors.