Saturday, October 31, 2009

Our New Halloween

Halloween once loomed almost bigger than Chanuka or Christmas in our house. For months, the children would mull over their costumes.  I insisted on making all costumes, a project which fulfilled the needs of my inner craftsperson, but multiply that by three kids, and I was buried under my Halloween to do list.  And one costume was never enough--we needed a costume for school and the parade, and then another for trick or treating.  

Years ago, I realized that my kids were just as excited to buy their get-ups at Party City, and put aside my prejudice against flimsy store-bought costumes as irrelevant to their enjoyment of the
holiday. Sometimes I’d get suckered into a too-early trip to the store.  The selection would be great, but by Halloween, the costume would have lost its power to thrill, and then there would be a last minute scramble to put together something else. Or, we’d go to the store too late, and our choices would be limited to an M&M outfit or some unrecognizable superhero disguise.

Logistics were always intense. They’d get home from school and help then put themselves together for the parade very quickly. After the parade, we’d down pizza before hitting the Farms,
Bedford’s favorite destination for trick or treating--a neighborhood where houses are reasonably close together.  There would be various groups we’d need to meet up with at various times.
Bill and I would stand back from our kids on the stoop gently reminding them to say “trick or
treat” and “thank you” before shuffling them along to the next lit doorstep. As an avid collector of candy as a kid, I was always shocked and disappointed how early they’d give in to cold and fatigue. "How about three more houses?” I’d urge, as if they needed more candy. “No, it’s fine, let’s go home,” they’d say.

Halloween is another mile-marker on the road towards their independence. Joni Mitchell sang, “And the seasons, they go round and round."  This year it didn't even occur to me to bring down the big box of spooky decorations.  No one asked for them either.  My 13 year old daughter planned her costume (Native American) with her friends, went shopping with them, and put it all together without the least bit of my involvement. My middle son drew up a concept of his Halloween look, a Badminton player, with a sketch that could be turned in as an assignment for the Fashion Institute of Technology. My oldest is planning to be a boy from the 20’s with his friends, and he culled his whole look out of pieces from around the house. Not a penny of investment. 

No more carrying their plastic pumpkins when they get tired.  No more holding their hands as we cross the dark streets of the Farms.  No more watching as they sort through their candy, and watching as they carry out extensive trades, Nerds for Laffy Taffy, Sour Patch Kids for Skittles.  Tonight, they've all got their own plans.  Bill and I are going to the movies.

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