This Halloween marked the first time since leaving home for college that I haven't lived in an apartment. It dawned on me in early October that we could actually participate in trick-or-treat this year, so in the week before the big day I invested in the requisite bags of Reese's cups, Kit Kats and Crunch bars. The day before Halloween, I bought a pumpkin - one of the few left at the grocery store, crusted with field dirt and flat on one side. No matter. We'd just carve the good side.
We tackled the pumpkin early on October 31. While my boyfriend sketched and carved the vampire face, I remembered a particular photo from my childhood, in which I am five or six years old and my dad and I are carving a pumpkin. There's newspaper spread over the floor of the kitchen, and my dad is reaching in to scoop out the pumpkin guts. I don't remember doing any of that myself, but this year, I eagerly helped scrape and scoop out the insides, greedy for the seeds we'd toast later.
We took our big bowl of candy, our pumpkin and a blanket outside and set up shop on the front stoop. I wondered how many kids would even come by - we were the only house on the street to participate, and it was windy and cold, though certainly spooky.
While we waited, we talked about Halloween memories - our favorite costumes, favorite candy, what a drag it was to have to wear a coat over your costume or a long-sleeved shirt under it. One year, I dressed up as Annie and had to carry an umbrella. That was the same year we did trick-or-treat only on our block, among close neighbors - a spate of Tylenol poisonings had made people wary and many communities canceled, or at least discouraged, trick-or-treat.
With no such pall over the festivities this year, we had hoped for crowds of kids. Maybe it was the weather, or just the nature of being on a dead-end street, but business was slow - a couple of ninjas, a robot, a princess (wearing sweatpants under her gauzy gown) and one particularly elaborate ghoulish doctor costume. As it grew later, we encouraged our few visitors to take as many candy bars as they wanted.
The following night we lit the pumpkin again and enjoyed our toasted pumpkin seeds - traditions from our past, reincarnated. After such a long hiatus, it was nice to be part of a neighborhood again.
I can't say I'm sad about the leftover Reese's cups, either.