I might look forward to Halloween on our island more than Christmas.
Every year, the island’s kids and parents gather in town as the light grows dusky. Police cars with flashing lights sit at either end of town (about three streets long) to prevent drivers from going through. This means that every kid’s dream comes true: you can walk in the street! run! jump!
All the businesses are decorated with giant inflatable black cats, orange streamers, pumpkins lit up from within by candles, and fake spider webs. Real estate agents, veterinarians, consignment shop owners, and bartenders sit out front with baskets bulging with Tootsie Rolls and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, shouting Happy Halloween!
It’s a community gathering. The 12-year-olds roam freely at will, taking advantage of outfits one could barely call a costume to gather candy one more time. The 7-year-olds (like my nephew, Elliott, who went this year as a Ghostbuster) rule the streets, confident after years of shouting Trick or Treat! on this late October night. The parents of the little kids ooh and aahh when they see the other toddlers, the ones we’ve known since baby group at the Playspace, walking around as puppy dogs or Princess Leia. (Now that I’m an adult I realize it doesn’t really matter what you wear if you are under 5 years old. Any attempt at a costume evokes adoring glances and sighs from the adults.)
The little kids, however? They’re not quite sure.
Last night, Lu held my hand almost the entire time we roamed the streets. She wasn’t exactly scared. She looked befuddled. Why do we walk up to the store where we buy the printer cartridge and demand candy? And what the heck is candy?
Lu’s had plenty of homemade baked goods and an occasional cookie on the ferry boat, but she has yet to experience candy. So really, the entire experience was a chance for her to watch the world around her with wide eyes and try to understand. For the first 20 minutes, she wouldn’t take any candy. After she saw dozens of kids swarming at the entrance of the movie theater, she finally put out her hand. And then she clutched that little Twix bar until she had nearly crushed it in her grip.
So basically, Lu thinks Halloween means getting candy, clutching it, then trading the bedraggled candy for a new one.
Never mind. There will be many more years on this island. And I sense how quickly these next few years will go. (Look at this photo of Elliott from four years ago, looking quite a bit like Lu, only three years old. I think that was yesterday. Truly.) Soon enough, she will be the 7-year-old, confident and running without me, eating handfuls of candy.
In the meantime, holding her hand while we walked up and down the streets laughing? I didn’t mind at all.
And on the way back to the car, I heard someone call my name. When I turned around, I saw a family and the girl you see in the top photograph.
Look at that: she’s a gluten-free bagel!
This might be my favorite Halloween costume ever.
(Okay, that’s not entirely true. This is my favorite Halloween costume ever.)
I had no idea the joy that Lu would bring joy to small children on every street by wearing this costume. “It’s Elmo!” we heard shouted, at least a hundred times. Toward the end, when the night had arrived and Lu’s face was darkened, one small group of children really did seem to believe she was the real Elmo. This was pretty great.
What kid doesn’t love Halloween?
Well, it can be a tough night for kids who are gluten-free. (And of course, with food allergies to peanuts or dairy, it might be even tougher.) Remember that when you are choosing candy for the kids who arrive at your door.
Of course, after the kids have gone to bed, you’re going to filch some of the candy from their stash. Admit it. So you might as well make sure you are getting gluten-free candy as well.
Happy Halloween, everyone.