Halloween is rapidly approaching and with it comes the corresponding host of traditions. Some of us will festoon the house – top to bottom with all matter of frightening (and fun) paraphernalia designed to usher in the coming winter. Others, no doubt, will resist the event all together decrying the ritual, at best, as a fiction invented by enterprising greeting card manufacturers (like so many modern American holidays) or, at worst, a throwback to paganism unworthy of national celebration. But many more will simply carve a pumpkin, help the kids dress as their favorite Disney princess or mutant ninja turtle, and pass out some candy picked up earlier that day at a convenience store on the way home from work.
Our family falls somewhere into the last camp. We break out relatively modest fall gear, including a few ghoul-specific tchotchke to instruct the world that we know what month it is. Yet when a couple of kids were added to our little home, Halloween took on new significance. Now instead of thinking what topical couple would be especially entertaining for our friends at their annual Monster’s Bash, Carolyn and I became the consummate parents. We dutifully planned kids’ costumes and executed elaborate strategies to make the most of the annual event. For these 17 years or so, my mom has made an outstanding chili dinner (the first of the autumn), Carolyn would fill the candy dish and pass it generously to neighborhood kids, and I would conspire with other dads on the block to shepherd our collective of little beggars from door to door.
This year, my youngest announced that he’d rather go with friends in an adjacent neighborhood for the night’s festivities. I understand. He’s old enough; but for me, it may be the scariest Halloween ever. And, I’m not sure I’m ready.