Wednesday, August 4, 2010

No Trick-or-Treaters?

Me either! I really do love living out in the country. I don't miss my incredibly nosy neighbors from the city at all and hope that the people that moved in after us have a least one car up on blocks and maybe hold some kind of summer camp in the backyard or some naked solstice dancing. Wait, where was I? Oh, yeah. But the one thing my old neighborhood had going for it was the trick-or-treaters (TOTers), something we did not see any sign of on our first Halloween in the new place.

The place I grew up in did Halloween very differently from where my husband grew up. Apparently, in some towns TOTing goes on for hours. In my hometown, and in the town we lived in when we were first married, TOT was for one hour, period. The fire station whistle would blow, I think at 7 PM, and then again at 8. Where my husband grew up (really just several cities over), TOT started sometime in the early afternoon and went until dark or until you ran out of candy.

The house I grew up in was on the other side of a busy street from most of my friends and was the side without a sidewalk. When I was a kid, my peers would be escorted across to the few houses there to get candy, but after we grew out of TOTing, our friends did too, and we were lucky to get ten kids. In later years, after I rented the house from my parents, I might get one or two.

My last Halloween there, I resolved to just give out money (50¢?). If we got our usual amount, I'd still come out ahead. If we got fewer kids, I wouldn't have a bag of candy taunting me. That year, I got the most TOTers: a whopping four, but only because three showed up after the whistle (they'd heard about the money) and I was in a good mood.

Then I moved to a slightly larger, more suburban area, with actual sidewalks. We had the same one-hour period, whistle-to-whistle, but oh, what a difference those sidewalks made! I never counted, and I'm sure I never hit any major record, but it was common for me to get 30 or 40 TOTers in that hour. Most were polite. Many were adorable. Every year, there would be a couple that made me consider just keeping the light off (surly teens without costumes, adults demanding candy for babies "asleep in the car"), but by the time October rolled around, I couldn't wait to pass out candy again. (I'll confess to having two bowls of candy: one with the good stuff for the ones that were into it, with attempts at costumes, and a small bowl with less-good candy for those who shoved other kids to get to the door, didn't wear costumes, didn't say a word...)

Now, we live in the country with, you guessed it, no sidewalks. And zero trick-or-treaters. So, what does one do when there are no TOTers? Carve a pumpkin anyway and watch scary movies! (Our jack-o-lantern last year (right) was based on those in the Orc areas in World of Warcraft (my idea, my husband's work).) Somewhere near the big day, have a small party to watch old, bad sci-fi or horror movies.

Something I used to do was put together goody bags for kids in my life (niece & nephew, friends' kids). Some people do the "boo" thing, where they leave surprise packages for friends and neighbors.

I'm content to stay home, but if you're really jonesing for a fix, you can see if any friends would let you take over candy duty while they take their kids TOTing, or just let you hang out during the evening and help.

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