Halloween is one of my favorite - if not the favorite - holidays of the year. I don't remember getting that into it as a child. My parents were firm believers that you stopped trick or treating when you started middle school. I remember being invited to my friend Stacy's halloween party in 6th grade, only to find the group was going TOTing.
Moral dilemma: Do I demurely decline TOTing, citing OTT family rules... Or do I TOT in secret and hope my mom doesn't find out? (being an oldest-child-adult-pleaser kinda kid I chose the latter, but I sulked a whole bunch).
So, imagine how delighted I was when I grew up and realized that there were adults -- plenty of adults! -- who love Halloween and celebrate it with great gusto.
Denver 1992: Double-decker bus with a keg in back ferried us from bar to bar while random dude dressed as GI Joe sprayed Jagermeister from a plastic machine gun.
Denver 1993: Friend Cheryl and her boyfriend Ben (a professional magician's assistant and set/prop builder - how cool is that?!?) host a Halloween party to end all parties. A huge papermache skeleton draped his arm over their front porch and I stood in line for the keg with their elderly neighbor. (First time I'd been at a party with an octogenarian. It made an impression. Old people drink... from kegs?!)
Gainesville 1995: Pushed Miranda around the entire neighborhood in a stroller TOTing, even though she only had a couple baby teeth.
Orlando 2000: Dragged Miranda, Olivia and newborn Hannah around the neighborhood, even though 2/3 of the houses didn't celebrate. Who knew there were so many Jehovah's Witnesses at Disney?
Birmingham 2010: We hosted our first (hopefully annual**) Halloween Party. No super-sized skeletons draped over the house and certainly no keg (we like good beer). But plenty of kids and parents, fun games, good food...
So I had high expectations for this year.
Hannah spiked a fever on Sunday, and so began my Halloween Lament.
Disappointment #1: I didn't get a single picture of Olivia dressed in her Nerd Costume. And I had to rip a picture of Miranda off Facebook (she's the blue legged native american. Hey -- it's better than the Sexy Cop costume that was the 2nd choice!)
Disappointment #2: Hannah couldn't TOT. And I'd even convinced her to dress up in a costume that was more befitting a toddler than an 11 year old.
Disappointment #3: Not one kid came to our house to TOT. Not One!
My mom has long complained that she gets no TOTers. Back in the day (early 70s through late 80s) there were plenty of kids in my parents' neighborhood. But the kids have grown up, had their own kids, and now their neighborhood is mostly retirees and college students. Weird mix, I know.
Our neighborhood is full of kids! Our street alone has at least 14, not including our girls. So you'd think we'd get decent traffic. But nope. Total crickets. Poor Hannah, whom I'd appeased by promising she could hand out the candy (as long as she didn't touch it or breathe on anyone), sat on the couch, candy bowl at the ready, for three hours asking every 10 minutes when someone was going to ring the door bell.
It. was. sad. Painfully sad. I just had to scoop her up in my arms, give her a really tight hug, and remind her that now we have lots of tootsie rolls to eat.
Here's my theory:
1. People are lazy! We live half-way up a hill. That's just too much exercise when there're easy pickins at the bottom of the incline. (note to slackers: walking up hill supposedly burns 476 calories an hour. That equivalent to 1.5 Snickers Bars!)
2. People are crazy! "The world is so crazy and the thought of ringing a stranger's doorbell, asking for candy really makes me nervous!" wrote one of my Facebook friends. No, honey, you are crazy! Or watching too much Criminal Minds. Or both.
3. People are ... well, there's not one word that sums up this one, but here goes. People are so programmed these days to want a "big experience" that they'd rather pack up the kids and drive to someone else's neighborhood because it has (a) the best candy (b) pyrotechnic displays and elaborate front yard corn mazes (c) <insert other cool stuff here>.
But here's the problem. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, isn't it? If you skip Halloween in your own neighborhood because it's not the "cool one", there are fewer people TOTing there, neighbors decide it's not worth the effort (or the calories) to buy (and eventually eat) the bags of candy, there are fewer front porches lit year after year until it definitely isn't a neighborhood you could TOT, even if you wanted to!
Oh yeah, and you miss a great opportunity to meet your neighbors and discover they're not psychopaths injecting rat poison into the Mars Bars.
Think about it.
There's always 2012. I'm already "pinning" decorating and food and costume ideas. And I might just start stockpiling newspapers for that papermache skeleton.