Sunday, 1 November 2009

Halloween: the post mortem

Well, we survived Halloween. The Littleboys, as predicted, loved it. And, I have to admit, we had rather a lot of fun too....

The day dawned freakishly mild for October, which meant that the crowds of people who packed into our local community/parenting centre for a Halloween festival in the morning all overheated somewhat. But it was a great opportunity to critique other people's costumes. Our conclusion? That hardly anyone dresses as anything spooky any more. There were princesses, firefighters, ladybirds and football players, but no ghosts, and not one little girl dressed as a witch that I could see. Littleboy 2, in a rather cute vampire costume purchased from Woollies last year, was about the only member of the undead, although Littleboy 1, as a pirate, was in fairly good company. (And no wonder: according to this article from the New York Times, some States have pretty well outlawed anything scary..).

After a quick breather at lunchtime, it was on to a neighbour's house for a Halloween party. They had decorated their house and garden spectacularly well, and produced mounds of delicious Halloween-themed snacks- although apple bobbing had been dropped (because of swine flu fears) in favour of games such as wrapping kids up in toilet paper as Mummies. The Doctor and I rather let the side down by having no costumes of our own (at least half of the other adults had made some kind of effort) but at least we had the excuse that we were ignorant Brits.....

But the highlight was the trick or treating - and yes, even The Doctor enjoyed it. (Apart from seeing our sons' pleasure, I think this was partly because, as he remarked, it was a good opportunity for meeting other people in the street, and peeking at their houses close up. We even learned some interesting local facts: such as that Robert de Niro once rented a house nearby, and filmed part of Meet the Parents in the town.)

We ventured nervously into our street at dusk, not knowing what to expect. Houses I'd virtually never noticed before were suddenly lit up with rows of intricately carved jack o' lanterns and pumpkin-shaped fairly lights, their doors invitingly left ajar. Middle aged couples seemed delighted to see the Littleboys in their costumes (and practically swooned with delight when they said 'thank you' in their British accents) and we were given a genuinely warm welcome everywhere. One nice custom I'd not seen before in the UK is for those people who are not at home to leave a basket of candy outside their front door (and some people who were clearly in had done this too). This, we realised, is both a great strategy for those who don't want to answer their door all evening, and means that kids aren't disappointed by houses being empty.

We found fertile hunting grounds in our own street without having to go further afield, and the Littleboys were more than satisfied by their haul. And, not being used to very much chocolate/sweets (one of the few areas in which I have been pretty strict as a mother), they only managed a couple of packets before bedtime, so we didn't have too much crazy behaviour (or no more than the usual, anyway, which involves jumping on furniture, splashing in the bath and a level of boy-noise that might shock other parents).

Meanwhile I'd totally overbought on candy for other trick or treaters, not knowing how many to expect (and in the event not having many to our door, possibly due to our house being up a steep and not very well-lit driveway).

So, hmmm, who's going to eat all that leftover sugary stuff now?

Let's just say The Doctor has just been seen to snaffle a Kit-Kit and I'm developing a worrying toffee habit.....

11 comments:

Dumdad said...

Sounds nice but not as good as Bonfire Night, n'est-ce pas? Fireworks, sparklers, penny for the guy and all that. I've held a few Guy Fawkes nights at our house, inviting American and French friends along. Good fun although the neighbours didn't know what to make of it!

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Sounds brilliant. The Little Boys must have loved it. Now you just have to eat it before they do.

Are you having a bonfire and effigy burning next Friday then? Just to remind everyone that us Brits forgive people who cross us...

Almost American said...

Glad you had a good time. It is a good opportunity to meet other people on the street isn't it? DH and I were the only adults on on our street who put any kind of costume, though I suspect our new neighbours from PA may so so next year.

I confused a couple of trick-or-treaters by saying "Ooh, I'd like a treat please!" when they said "Trick-or-treat!" and frightened a few more because they weren't expecting me a) to be in costume or b) sitting out on the front step. (Crazy English lady with the black lipstick!)

Potty Mummy said...

And that candy glut is precisely the reason why I didn't buy any this year. Let's face it, no-one was going to knock on our door in any case - it's not like we advertise involvement in trick or treating, any purchase of fun-sized mars bars was only ever going to end up being eaten by one person...

Absolutely Write said...

We bought lots of treats but Big G had to go to the shops at 6.30pm to buy more aftre a big rush of trick or treaters ... it was great, loads of kids this year. New neighbourhood, you see, more families. I am glad you had a good time :-)

Expat mum said...

We had a great time. Did a quick tour of a few blocks with the Little Guy but mainly sat on the stoop and "visited" with everyone else coming round. Gave out loads of candy which is good. Less for me to scoff!

Nota Bene said...

Leave a basket of sweets outside eh? That would last all of five minutes in our street as one urchin comes along and snaffles the lot!

nappy valley girl said...

Dumdad - yes would be good to celebrate Guy Fawkes, except I think the Doctor may have shocked our neighbours in trying to explain what it was (he said it was about burning effigies of Catholics and did not really explain the context..!)

Brit in Bosnia - see above. We could do with a bonfire to get rid of all the leaves in our garden, but they probably don't allow them, what with all the houses being made of wood clapboard etc....

Almost American - yes and what ever happened to actually asking for a trick?

PM - I wonder if they trick or treat in Moscow??

Absolutely Write - that's why I bought so much, I dread running out and then having to hide with the lights off....

Expat Mum - I bet it's fun in the city. Not so many stoops around here, although some people were sitting out on their porches, it being so mild.

NB - Yes, you would think so (!) but it didn't seem to have happened here. I guess here they know that there will be more than enough candy for everyone, so no need to snaffle the lot.

Iota said...

I did the same, and bought a couple of bags which I didn't use (because we were out and didn't get back till late). And I've just bought my kids' hauls from them (which I thoroughly disapprove of, but is the only strategy I can think of for preventing them eating it all, and it OK worked last year). So we have a huge glut. Last year I put a whole load in the trash and I can see myself doing the same again this year. That is the one aspect of Hallowe'en I don't like, but I've come to enjoy all the rest of it.

I'm glad you had a good time.

Lorna Harris said...

I think Halloween is now my favourite holiday. Your description of people sitting on their porches welcoming you in is just right. It's the only holiday when you see your neighbours and everyone is popping in and out. It's lovely.

It's also easy not to participate, I think most people are respectful if the house is in darkness and the owners don't want to join in.

Watching your children run from house to house is so much fun, it's hard not to love it all.

nappy valley girl said...

Iota - yes, most of the candy will be going in the trash, particularly as the boys have decided they only really like KitKats, and things like M&Ms are more fun to spit out.

Lorna - I think the fact that the community is so embracing of Halloween makes it much better for everyone. It's much more fun here than in London, where you never know if people even realise it's Halloween and might look horrified if you knock on their door.