Last year on Halloween night two people on horses passed by as I walked down my block on Capitol Hill in Seattle. The hundreds of parents and kids trick-or-treating on our street barely gave the urban cowboys a glance. They were too busy looking out for the skeleton on a rope that was rumored to drop periodically to the sidewalk, unannounced, from a giant elm. About ten minutes later, a flash mob erupted dancing in the street, which was closed off to cars for the night. Screams, real and recorded, filled the air, otherwise staid neighbors donned gorilla suits, and by the time our door closed for the last time, we had handed out over a thousand (I kid you not) pieces of candy. We expect no less this year.
Like a mushroom in the Cascade forest, this celebration erupts out of nowhere every October 31st as darkness arrives, and it vanishes in a couple of hours. The next day, if it weren't for the jack-o-lanterns with burned out candles still sitting on every porch, you'd think it was all a wild dream.
Without planning committee or marketing campaign, our neighborhood Halloween happening is so good in part because it requires so little. Unlike other holidays, which I anticipate with mixed emotions, my only Halloween decisions are where to get the best deal on candy and, when the kids were younger, what to do about costumes and the massive amounts of sugar they would collect by the end of the night.
I'm no DIY-er, but perhaps because it only had to hold together for one night and would be seen mostly in the dark, when my kids were younger I would dig out the sewing machine and make their costumes. I'm still proud of the spider, vegetable garden and lion I concocted.
Deciding how to handle the Halloween candy overload was easy, as I'm a big believer in the "forbidden fruit leads to major obsession" theory. I'd let my kids eat whatever they wanted in their candy sack for a week or so and eventually, when it got stale and forgotten, I'd toss it out. If my five kids can be considered a study, the facts that none of them care much for candy and no one went crazy on a sugar high in the post-Halloween period, supports my approach.
The larger decisions for parents that pop up in late October involve voting choices in the early November election. These require much more thought and time-consuming study. That's why this month we not only give you many ideas for scary and fun things to do, we also provide the arguments for both sides on one of the ballot issues that impacts families: the charter school initiative 1240.
Thanks for making the time to be an informed voter, and have fun with your lively spirits on Halloween.