Halloween year 'round
Halloween and I have a unique relationship. Nope! It's not what you're thinking. I don't decorate or buy heaps of candy or put up special lights. In fact, I don't even typically put the porch light on in the neighborhood where I live currently. But for ten years I celebrated a version of it daily.
Kids on the block
I'm not really sure how it all started? We'd been settled into our North East Calgary home for some time - a year, maybe - and Halloween was approaching. The neighborhood children were giddy with anticipation for the coming holiday.
My own kids couldn't be stirred to any kind of interest so far in advance, but eventually we'd be last-minute scrambling for their costumes. The haul of candy from that suburb! Pillow cases brimming for all three boys. 'Come Halloween night they'd all dump their hefty sacks of treats into a giant mound on the living room floor. There, they would sort into favorites and shares and "Daddy tax" piles.
But the kids on the block were excited days in advance. For whatever reason, as a group of them were trodging past my front porch on their way home from school, one of them playfully yelled out, "Trick or Treat!" That was the beginning of an almost-daily game that we played for the next ten years.
Halloween in June
I responded to their "Trick or Treat!" with a gesture of invitation up on to the porch. Asking the little cluster of children to wait a minute, I scrambled to the pantry and found a bin of animal crackers. To their delighted surprise, I handed each of them a tiny cookie and sent them on their way.
What started as a little joke between myself and a dozen neighborhood children soon became an after-school and weekend check-in. The kids would come, randomly -- in singles and pairs and groups of five. I wasn't brave enough to entertain a neighborhood in my living room (I already had three little boys of my own running amok at the time), so they weren't allowed beyond the front porch. They would ring the bell and holler their plea for "candy." Day after day. I would step out on to the porch, often hunkering down on the step, as they told the stories of their day.
We talked of squabbles and wishes. They talked of heartache and plans. Often they brought disagreements-in-progress (so many little girls with so many opinions on one city block!). They often reached for reassurance: Am I ok? Am I safe? Lovable? Wanted? You know - the easy questions in life. Their were story books and movie chats and big questions about life.
Costco must rue the day we left that neighborhood. The buckets of suckers and sour soothers and animal crackers I churned out of our house! I don't know if the kids remember me, now? We left that neighborhood almost eight years ago. My husband has pointed out since that sometimes, "giving out candy is just giving out candy." But I'd like to think that a little neighborhood full of bright hearts and minds was made safer, and more connected, by ten years of hanging out on the front porch. So many treats in so many sticky little hands. Trick or treat!