Warning: Gratuitous use of photos in this post.
Yesterday was October 31 and while my husband and kids were out trick-or-treating, I was home writing this post and doling out candy to the few trick-or-treaters that trekked up the big hill to our front door. And by few trick-or-treaters, I mean six. That’s it. Just six … three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, two friendly witches and one Elsa from the movie “Frozen.”
Maybe it’s because most of the neighborhood kids are in high school now and have “aged-out” of the holiday, or maybe it’s because our neighborhood is too small and the kids went elsewhere to pull in a bigger candy haul. Whatever the reason, Halloween was very low-key this year. Not just in my neighborhood, but also in my house.
It started in the morning. Neither of my boys got dressed up. My 6th grader didn’t wear a costume to school because apparently middle schoolers don’t do that. My 3rd grader was told to bring, not to wear, his costume to school and change into it just before the afternoon parade. No morning costumes meant no morning costume pictures. It was just another Friday morning.
In years past, my boys have planned out their Halloween costumes months in advance and they’ve always coordinated … Buzz Lightyear and Sheriff Woody, Flash and Captain America, Batman and Robin, 2/3 of Run DMC (this was my favorite!), etc. Even last year, when my then 10-year-old decided he wanted to do his own thing, he ended up complementing his brother: old man Jackie Robinson to MLB star Jackie Robinson.
But this year was different. Two months ago, my newly-minted middle schooler decided he wasn’t going to dress up for Halloween. Two weeks ago, he decided he would dress up, but only so he could take his younger brother around the neighborhood and maybe get a little candy for himself, too. Then, five days ago, he decided he was going to dress up and trick-or-treat with a buddy in his neighborhood. They were dressing as Little Red Riding Hood and The Big Bad Wolf … Guess which one my son was?
Last-minute anything stresses me out, but I have to give my 11-year-old credit … He had it all figured out in a matter of minutes: an Under Armour red hoodie with an old red cape on top, my black tennis skirt (he added long johns underneath because it was cold last night!) with red knee-high socks and red sneakers, plus a yellow Easter basket to hold. Done. It was haphazard, ridiculous and very cheesy, but it was perfect. Perfect for a middle school tween boy who didn’t want to seem like he cared too much, but still really wanted to dress up and be silly for at least one more Halloween. Mission accomplished.
As for my 8-year-old, he went the patriotic route as a U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant in his dress blues. No connection to Little Red Riding Hood, but happy all the same … even before the candy.
I will admit that I have mixed feelings about yesterday. I am fine with less fuss and fanfare around the holiday (I’ve been scaling back all the holidays this year). I’m also fine with the boys growing up and growing out of Halloween (although I still have many more years to go with the younger one). But a small piece of me looks back at those old Halloween pictures and thinks, where did the time go? Where are those chubby-cheeked babies? Then I remember that bigger kids mean bigger candy bars, and life is good.