We let the kids trick or treat last night. We hadn't planned to and we're so glad we did.
We had intended to do a parade with close friends from the neighborhood across the street. The kids would be masked and there would be distancing. But when I saw the guest list approaching 80 people, I balked. The scary claws of pandemic-induced agoraphobia reached out, like the demons who would be parading around the neighborhood mansion. We would not get in the car and drive the five short minutes to their house.
My husband and I, ourselves, are not monsters, however. We encouraged the kids to dress up. In the house. Since some older neighbors had asked if our kids would be trick or treating (with a hopeful gleam in their eyes), we promised we’d stop by and wave hello. And so, we set out for a walk.
Every morning, we do a loop around the block, walking back home for virtual school. I figured, if I make them walk a mile every morning, we could at least let them stroll a bit on their favorite night of the year. Our old suburban neighborhood has 1,000+ homes set reasonably close together, a trick or treaters dream.
At 6:00, we set out. A toddler in a pumpkin tutu. A boy in Superman pajamas and a cape. Two older girls in superhero costumes they’d purchased with money they earned raking our backyard. All wearing masks. I carried warm gloves and made them wear layers to combat the potential freeze. The superheroes grabbed pillow cases to carry their loot.
“That won’t be necessary," I said. They assured me it would.
Across the street, a mom of teenagers was setting up a table with bagged treats. Two doors down, a grandmother set up her own.
I quickly set the rules. “No ringing doorbells. Only go near people who are masked.”
We quickly broke both rules when our elderly next-door neighbor came to the door with Hershey bars. We’d only break the rules one more time when another septuagenarian sadly watched our kids collect candy from a house abutting hers. She banged on the glass to alert my kids to her presence. With their masks firmly in place, I let them go say, “Trick or treat.” Another older man came outside to give them candy from a large bag.
Our path followed the eagle eyes of my husband and the kids as they spotted tables at the end of driveways. It seemed that every third house had one. Baggies with Skittles. Snickers grouped in piles with Twixes. At the end of the street was a home with a candy chute through PVC piping. Across the street from them a middle-aged couple with a warm fire, the flames contrasting the darkening sky.
“This is not what I imagined,” AJ shared.
We walked together, the exception when the kids ran across lawns between adjoining homes. I walked slowly, holding the pudgy hand of my three-year-old. We waved to other elementary school parents. We went to nearly a hundred homes, the kids got gobs of candy. We were gone for less than two hours.
And the couple who convinced us to go out? They ran out of candy before we reached their house on the loop back.
We celebrated Halloween like I did as a kid. It was peaceful. It was fun. It was far too chilly but thankfully not wet. The older kids filled their pillowcases with baggies of candy the younger two couldn’t fit in their orange plastic pumpkins. Just like everything these past seven months, we did at as a family. We had no expectations and sometimes those are the best surprises of all.