I have never really liked Halloween. Sure, as a kid, I dressed up and went out trick-or-treating every year, but my costumes were usually last-minute concoctions from my mom and dad's closet (pseudo hippie! kind of a farmer!), and I truly liked sorting my candy more than eating it. What can I say? I'm more of a cookie person.
There was exactly one year I can remember getting into Halloween. I was 7, and my dad, a university professor, was on a sabbatical that moved our family to England for six months. England doesn't do Halloween, so naturally all my classmates were fascinated by my home country's most kid-friendly October tradition. I might not have loved the holiday, but I definitely loved the attention.
I convinced my parents we should throw a party to introduce my new little mates to Halloween. At my very adamant request, my mom begrudgingly (I had to get my apathy for Halloween from somewhere) sewed my costume, a lace-trimmed wedding dress, complete with veil. My 3-year-old brother wanted to be He-Man, so he got a blue tank top and matching underwear. Done.
Not really understanding the limitless costume possibilities Halloween provides, all the British kids came dressed as witches and ghosts. They looked confused by the cobwebs and spiders my parents and I had hung around the house and thought bobbing for apples sounded ridiculous. Despite my gorgeous gown, I had to agree that none of it was really my thing either. Was I actually English?
My disinterest in Halloween persisted throughout my teen and adult years (no sexy nurse costumes for me), but having kids made me a bit more open to celebrating the holiday. My then-6-month-old daughter was pretty much the cutest bunny on the planet, and she's made an adorable pink cat, giraffe, purple fairy, and Wonder Woman in the years since. She absolutely loves everything about Halloween and starts picking her costume at least six months in advance. I pretend to be equally excited for her, while secretly plotting ways to hide her candy.
Luckily, my now-2-year-old son shares my apathy. He refused to put on the costume I bought him for his first Halloween, and last year, I didn't even try to make him dress up. I did show him his sister's old giraffe costume, and when he replied with a firm "no," I told him he could go trick-or-treating in sweats and a t-shirt. He, unlike me, is very into candy.
Not wanting to be a total Halloween grinch, I do give candy to trick-or-treaters, mostly out of a sense of obligation, but I lucked out with our first suburban house, which was located at the back end of a sleepy cul-de-sac. One banner year we got about 12 candy seekers. Last year, we left a big bowl of candy on the front porch and went over to a friend's house. It was full when we got back.
We moved this Summer, though, and our new neighborhood is stuffed with kids of prime trick-or-treating age, and I've already seen Halloween decorations popping up on surrounding front porches. My suspicion that my attitude about Oct. 31 might not be in line with the area's general way of thinking was confirmed when a new neighbor informed me, "You know you're the Halloween house, right?"
"Um, no," I replied. "What does that even mean?" Apparently, the last owners of our home were known for their Halloween generosity, passing out more than 200 hot dogs, hot chocolate, beer, and bags of popcorn from their very own machine, in addition to full-sized candy bars.
"Well, sh*t," I said, already planning an exit strategy. I've managed to pawn off the popcorn and hot dogs to other neighbors by promising I'd up the quality and quantity of beer and wine available at my house. After all, if I have to act like I'm into Halloween, I'm going to need a few drinks.