It started some time after we moved into this house. Growing up in a rural area where the houses were spread out, trick-or-treating was a luxury we had to enjoy out of town. Most of the property in Phelan, the small desert town I grew up in, is on 2.5 acre to 10 acre plots. We rarely got trick or treaters and the one time we did try to go trick or treating ourselves, we got candy from only 3 houses and walked many miles to get that. The shops in town, which consisted mostly of a couple strips malls centered around one grocery store, built right before I got into high school, started giving out candy in an effort to create some kind of community trick or treating experience.
We usually just got in the car and went to Wrightwood, a mountain town about 10 miles away but in the same school district, The houses were closer together and the town had a higher income than most of us in Phelan. The houses cost more but as a teenager, we didn't care about that. We knew the getting was good when we got full size candy bars in our bags and sometimes, got a toothbrush set from a dentist if we stopped at their house.
Xaver and I both grew up in rural places. We often look at each other and wonder why we bought this home, in a tract home plot. We don't like the noise, the trash, the lack of privacy or the crime that comes from living what feels like on top of our neighbors. Despite how close together everyone lives, no one saw whoever stole the tailgate off our truck earlier this month. In our rural hometowns, everyone saw what happened. But, despite all the crud that happens in cities, one of the things we really enjoy is Halloween.
We're now the part of town where other people bring their kids to go trick or treating. Everyone decorates their house and stocks up on candy for the big night. A hundred bucks on candy – that's NOTHING. We need several hundreds of dollars worth of candy to get the 1000+ pieces needed to make it from the 5pm hour, when the littlest kids come to our door, to 9pm, when the high schoolers are still wandering about. We developed a system somewhere along the way. I'm not bragging about how much money we spend on candy – I'm just pointing out the volume of trick or treating traffic we get. I enjoy the heck of out of trick or treater traffic!!!
We kick off the night with a party and pumpkin carving for all the kids. I always carve the pumpkins on my front porch. I guess that is so I have to rush to clean off all the pumpkin guts before we start trick or treating?!? I seriously need to rethink this part of the system! I like being out front though, watching the neighborhood get ready all together… Katie really gets into the whole party planning aspect of the night. We put out orange and black and Halloweenish foods for everyone to snack on. The carrots go largely untouched since there's so much candy around but we try to get somewhere near the healthy mark. Before we went paleo, we used to order pizza too. Katie loves playing the hostess and getting everyone fed and set up before the big action begins.
The grandparents and my sister usually come over with all of her kids. Before my grandma and aunt both passed, they used to come up to my house too. Last year a few of my cousins started coming up to join in on the fun as well. I'd set them up on the front porch with hot tea, coffee, and hot cocoa, a warm blanket, and a BIG bucket of candy.
At some point, they each started bringing a bag or two of candy to contribute to the pot. A few years ago we ran out of candy and had to send someone to the store to get more. Now, we know better. To create an ambience around the front door, I open the window to my office and blast Halloween music from Pandora. Their Halloween channels have improved alot over the years! One year, Pandora stared playing this really crazy German Goth stuff…it was a little TOO freaky!
Once the grandparents are all set up on the front porch, the parents (me, Xaver, and my sister and her husband) take the kids out for the night. Sometimes I stay behind to help man the fort. We've moved from the kids being pulled in wagons to now trying to run to keep up with them all.
My dad really loves seeing all the different costumes and talking to the kids about what charatcer they are, As we walk with the kids, we see what other costumes are out there and look at all the decorations around. It's fun all the way around! Our first year at this house, it was just us so Xaver had to man the front door!
When we get home, we sort candy and the kids eat until they are ill, which isn't much because we usually are eating paleo and any candy kinda makes us all sick. It happens every year, I won't lie! LOL But it is a really good time. The grandparents go home, a few kids pass out on the floor and have to carried to beds and cars, and the night is another memorable success.
There is something super powerful in making traditions and keeping them every year. Security… maybe stability? One thing I have learned in life is that traditions come and go. How we used to spend 4th of July 5 years ago is totally different from 10 years ago and completely different than when I was a kid,. And the same with Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and all of the other major holidays. I want the traditions to last as long as possible and to enjoy every minute of them. Keeping traditions is important to me and my kids. I want them to have incredibly fond memories of their childhoods and then create and carry-on new traditions when they start families. People move, people pass away, and situations change so for me, traditions are something that creates continuity. It's sad to me when families stop traditions for lame, short-sighted reasons, like not getting along or taking a family member or traditions for granted, but it happens. And then one day that family member is no longer there – they moved, they passed, they … well, you get the picture.
Regardless of the people involved, we will keep our traditions going. And everyone is welcome to come on by, go trick or treating, pass out candy, and carve a pumpkin. Hey, I'm a scrapbooker and we're always making memories!
What are your holiday traditions?