This year, my little one didn’t go out trick-or-treating. And she’s at the age where Halloween and trick-or-treating are among the highlights of the season. So missing out on it wasn’t an easy thing.
She participated in a Halloween-themed play, and the last show was on Halloween night. She loves being on stage, and I told her that being in costume on stage was a better use of the evening than begging for candy could ever be. I don’t think she believed me, but she’ll remember the play far more than she would a night fueled by fun-sized candies.
After the show was over, and the curtain calls and cast pictures had all been dispensed with, a cast dinner was held, marking the end of a successful show. She’s already learned, at an early age, that the hard work and camaraderie of building a show from scratch doesn’t last for very long. The set is struck, the cast goes their separate ways, and then it’s on to the next show. There is no permanence, other than the memories that you take from doing each show.
By the time we said our goodbyes, it was 10:00 on Halloween night, which was too late to do any of the ritual begging for candy at the homes of strangers. My little one at this point started to cry with an inconsolable sadness. I did all I could to cheer her up, and remind her of all the fun she had had in the name of the theater. But none of that mattered to a ten year-old who only wanted some candy.
We then went to a Halloween party at the house of some friends, where a large bowl of undistributed candy lay waiting. Despite protestations that it didn’t feel right, or that it wasn’t supposed to happen this way, she filled up her Trick-or-Treat bag with more candy than she would have otherwise received in the customary way. And this, eventually, helped to calm her down. We left the party filled with Halloween spirit–no pun intended, of course.
There aren’t very many Halloweens left for me, at least in the current configuration of having a child who wants to go out collecting candy. But in a larger sense, I cherish Halloween as an affirmation of children and childhood itself. The little ones who come to our door on Halloween won’t do it for too many years, and when their trick-or-treating window closes, more children will be there to take their place. On an evening that was originally meant to remember the departed, we are reminded that there will always be reinforcements in the progression of life. And I find that comforting, in a strange way.