It’s Halloween, and it sure gets lonely here

People like us — who live along a country road with no sidewalks or streetlights — on Halloween are like whaling widows from the 1700s, who keep the candle burning in the window night after night, waiting for their husbands who years ago were lost at sea.

Despite the fact that we live on Elm Street – an iconic name in horror movies — Halloween is a dud. No parent wants their child trick-or-treating on a winding road with no lights and plenty of blind turns; the type of road that Freddie Krueger would have relished.

Still, year after year we carve the pumpkins, buy bags of Reese’s peanut butter cups that end up in the freezer, and put on the lights, hoping that we will enjoy a classic Halloween, haunted by princesses, jedis, ninjas and ghouls. This year, as we gaze out the window at the chrysanthemums and corn stalks smothered by an early snow, does not look promising.

We can usually count on the three small children from the next house visiting early in the evening, before their parents drive them off to more pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. And our son and his friends will load up on our candy before they too decamp for happier Halloween hunting grounds — where the homes are close together and a pillowcase can be filled in the time it takes to watch two episodes of Sponge Bob.

A few years ago was a banner year. We had a total of 12 trick-or-treaters: the three children from next door, then John and his pals. The doorbell did not ring for at least an hour, then lo! A half dozen teens appeared on our doorstep, all dressed as slashers. It was our friends’ son and his friends, They made pleasant conversation and helped themselves to some candy before getting down to business: inquiring politely if they could use our bathroom.

I guess we could just keep the lights off and not open up for Halloween. But I am still haunted by the memories of the Oldhams, the one household in my childhood neighborhood that did not open up. Their house and front path was spattered with burst eggs, which they’d hose off every Nov. 1. And old Eddie, may he rest in peace, would complain bitterly to my parents about “those G-D kids” and how “it’s a terrible world out there.”

Halloween is the only time I miss my former home in Pennsylvania, in a new development where everyone had small children. Back then I would make at least 80 candy bags and they would be gone within an hour. Neighborhood children would visit, and as they grew older they brought posses from other neighborhoods. We also had a spread for the adults accompanying the little ones: pumpkin bread, cheese and crackers and (most importantly) cider spiked with Laird’s Applejack. One of the dads, a school principal who always dressed in drag for Halloween, would down two glasses while the kids loaded up on candy; then took one for the road. Each year our home became more and more of a draw; I wonder why? 😉

But this year on Elm Street, where on any other day we’d savor the peace and the privacy, Halloween will be a lonely time. Still, we go through the motions and hope for the best.

Tonight we’ll carve the pumpkin like we always do. Tomorrow night we’ll find a used but still substantial candle and place it inside; then set the illuminated pumpkin on a rock by our driveway…in plain view of anyone who passes by. We’ll put on all the lights in front of the house, to make it look welcoming. And we’ll wait.

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9 thoughts on “It’s Halloween, and it sure gets lonely here

  1. One of your best blogs yet…I don’t know why, but this one resonated with me…because we live overseas and no one here “gets” Halloween – we’ve even given up carving a pumpkin. I just stick a few decorative pumpkins by the front door for atmosphere!

    Or, maybe because our first house was in one of those neighborhoods where people would bring station wagons filled with kids and then our next house was on a remote mountain road where we had the neighbors kids at 5:00 o’clock before it got dark and then afterwards we ended up eating all the rest of the candy ourselves!!

    I understand Cathy…just don’t throw yourself off the widow’s walk! Tom is counting on your early Thanksgiving dinner next week-end.

  2. Since I live just around the corner, I can relate to your feelings about a lonely Halloween. What I also found very disappointing when my children were younger and would return from trick or treating early, was how sad they were that no one came to ring the bell. They would wait by the front door for the older kids to come by, and finally give up and go to bed. I guess Halloween on a narrow country road just isn’t the same for some of us who were used to something a little more exciting.

    • Michelle, didn’t know your neighborhood had the same problem! We’ve been trick or treating on Elizabeth Road and the guys there rent a hay wagon to take the kids around…can you believe it?

  3. I’ve noticed a distinct difference in the last few years in the number of trick or treaters in our neighborhood. I live in a development of 63 homes where we would get upwards of 75 kids each year. Unfortunately, I live at the older end of the neighborhood where most of our children are adults or beyond trick or treating age. We get a lot of the older kids who are willing to venture down our way for the candy no doubt; but the younger ones don’t want to go as far (or their parents don’t want to have to walk that far). I don’t care how many kids I get, my jack-o-lantern will be lit and my light on for many years to come. Happy Halloween, Cathy, and don’t give up. One year you may be surprised.

  4. Gosh that brought back memories, what a difference a neighborhood makes. And I do remember miserable man. Great job!

  5. I can certainly relate. When we lived in our old neighborhood our house was visited by at least 80 kids, family members and pet animals – just loved it and never had any complaints because the kids were so cute and well behaved (maybe with the exception of a few teenagers). Now that we live in an over 55 community not one trick or treater has come by. Really miss seeing all the great costumes but we still decorated the outside of the house as many of our neighbors did – I suppose just to keep up our spirits!

  6. Pingback: Aging Out of Halloween? « The Sandwich Lady

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