I have another Halloween confession to make. No, it didn’t involve anyone’s underwear this time. But it’s still significant. I don’t want my kids to just have a great childhood, I want them to have my childhood. Some of our traditions are intended to share with them the magic of my youth. Do they appreciate? Not always. Take Halloween.

When I was about 10, we were deemed responsible enough to go out on our own. We roamed our neighborhood for hours. Classmates we encountered on our travels were absorbed into our group. We shared the inside skinny on which houses were giving out chocolate bars and which ones were giving out pennies. Handles on trick or treat bags gave out as the loot became too heavy. It was glorious.

For years, the experience of canvassing their very own neighborhood was denied to my children. Our first Halloween as a family of three saw us living in an apartment complex with a drug dealer next door. That year was more trick than treat. We visited a couple of neighbors with families, but that was it. Then we bought a house.

It was a darling house. So cute. And in a neighborhood that I wouldn’t go out in after dark if my house was on fire. Neither would anyone else, apparently, because we had fewer than 5 trick or treaters each year. For nine years, I sadly loaded my two children into our car on Halloween and drove to a better neighborhood. We walked among strangers, feeling guilty, like we didn’t belong. The treats were tasty (and safe), but we weren’t home. It broke my heart a little every time.

When our family was preparing to go from four members to five, we moved again, this time to a wonderful neighborhood. On our first Halloween in our new digs, the kids silently lined up at the car. I threw my arms around them and reminded them that this year, for the first time in our lives, we could trick or treat in our very own neighborhood. They were a little less than enthusiastic. Our neighborhood is uphill in every direction, houses are widely spaced, and driveways are daunting. I met with resistance. I tried to sell the idea with cheerful determination. Still they whined.

And then I got mad. I said something to the effect that we were staying put this year come hell or high water, and if they didn’t like it, they could stay home. Or whatever Mary Poppins would have said. This was our neighborhood! Our home turf! Time to claim the territory and make some memories!  We would never drive anywhere to trick or treat! NEVER AGAIN!

Eagerly, my children and I summitted the first driveway. The lights on the front porch blazed in welcome. We knocked on the door and waited. And waited. No answer. We could see shadowy figures through the living room window, but no one came to the door. Baffled but determined, we went to the next house. Again, no one answered.

Not to be put off, we found another promising house, this one heavily decorated with pumpkins and sheaves of corn. My daughter led the charge to the front door. Someone answered. I may have given myself a high-five. And then the children came back, bags empty. My daughter reported “They said they don’t do trick or treating.” We shrugged it off and treated on.  Three quarters of a mile later, their bags remained treatless.  Frustrated and confused, we began the long walk home.

We met another neighbor on the way. He had a bowl of candy and offered my kids large handfuls. We asked if he knew why no one was answering their door. He looked surprised and explained that we live in Alleluia Alley. It’s safe, and quiet and full of the kindest people you’d ever want to meet, all of whom belong to the same denomination. One that does not celebrate Halloween.  Oh.

In silence, I marched my ducklings up the hill. And loaded them into the car.

Little did they know…



*** In my neighbors’ defense, it’s not that they are anti-Halloween, they just don’t celebrate it. Kind of like how the US doesn’t celebrate Boxing Day. It’s on the calendar, and it means something to somebody else, just not to them.


21 thoughts on “Hallow-weenie

  1. Aw, that’s such a shame! You should walk around at Christmas with stockings and see if they’ll give you candy canes and Christmas cookies. Oh, but wait, they probably don’t celebrate the materialistic parts of Christmas either. (Oh, they do? They celebrate what a holiday has become in our culture instead of how it began? Then where’s my Halloween candy?!)

  2. Sometimes you just can’t win. Also, Alleluia Alley reminds me of when I was a kid and we went to church on Halloween to celebrate Reformation Day. Didja know that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of a German church on October 31? It was “fun.”

  3. Oh wow. Great neighborhood, but it seems low on celebration. When I try to recreat memories for my kids I always fail. What was great in my day is not so great today it seems.

  4. We live in a neighborhood that attracts trick-or-treaters from other neighborhoods, and I think that’s great. I think every kid should get that experience, and if that means I have to pony up for extra candy, well, no problem.

    As for “not belonging,” I wouldn’t worry about that too much. We know a lot of people in our neighborhood, but we definitely don’t know everyone. I can’t tell the unfamiliar neighborhood kids from the unfamiliar out-of-neighborhood kids. Particularly in costume.

  5. Ugh. Why do some denominations think the G-meister is a great big sourpuss? It’s just little kids dressing up and begging for candy. What’s Satanic about that? This stuff is why the kids have to go to a “Fall Festival” at the beginning of October instead of Halloween at the end. Annoying.

    Cute kids, though. I’ll be talking about the Great Pumpkin and Thing Two tomorrow.

    • I don’t think they believe it’s a terrible holiday, it’s more that it’s a non-holiday. Kind of like Boxing day is in the US. It’s on the calendar, but it doesn’t really mean anything to them.

  6. Isn’t it the most frustrating thing in the world when you’re proven wrong in front of your children? Man, I hate it when that happens! And thank goodness the people of Alleluia Alley know that what Jesus wants is fewer reasons for children to celebrate. They’ve really got those priorities straight!

  7. Guess you need to move again. 🙂 When I was a kid we would go out for hours and hours and run from house to house. We would come home and dump our pillow cases when they got too full, (those were our bags in the olden days). Then we would go out for another load. Ah those were the days…

  8. I get approximately sixteen bazillion trick-or-treaters every year, so a few more wouldn’t make a difference. Actually, I’m a terrible neighbor and don’t know any of the kids in the neighborhood, so I have no idea where all the trick-or-treaters come from.

  9. Awwww. Sad. I don’t do Halloween here on my block because for the last 7 years, not a single child has stopped by. They all go a few blocks over to the rich folks’ homes. I bet they get really good candy there. I’ve been tempted to dress up and check it out myself, but just don’t have the guts to do it.

  10. I haven’t had a single trick or treater here at my house in the 10 years I’ve lived here. Sucks. Bring your kids! Well, except that I stopped buying candy years ago because I just eat it all. So they wouldn’t be happy here.

A penny for your thoughts! And by penny, I mean a warm-fuzzy in your heart.

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