My children didn’t trick or treat on Halloween in 2011. I’m pretty sure they didn’t in 2012 either.
They were little then — ages 3 and 6 in 2011, and a year older in 2012.
Here’s what they remember from those years: My son vividly remembers the small trunk or treat event we attended about a week after Halloween in 2011. Everyone, including parents, dressed up. Cars were decorated. Candy was handed out to costumed kids. And when my kids were done trick or treating, they helped me hand out candy. It was a Halloween highlight of my son’s childhood — something different than our usual routine. Neither of us particularly remember 2012. There might have been no trick or treating at all, in fact. As for my daughter, she doesn’t remember either year.
Both of those years, our lack of Halloween trick or treating was out of necessity. In 2011, there was a nor’easter days before that downed power lines and trees, leaving roads impassable and knocking out power for days. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy rolled in — again, just days before Halloween — and again, downed power lines and trees and knocked out power.
For a while there, it felt like my kids would never trick or treat on Halloween again.
Still the memories were created. They dressed up in costumes. We painted gooseneck gourds and carved pumpkins. There were special dinners and Halloween movies watched. It didn’t always happen on Halloween, per se. But the memories were made, nonetheless.
When a storm just before Halloween in 2017 caused Bangor to suggest moving trick or treating to Nov. 3, it was a familiar scenario. I didn’t worry whether it would destroy my children’s childhood. We happily waited. After all, I know that Halloween is more than going door to door, asking neighbors for candy. It’s about the merriment, the pageantry, the decorations, the pumpkins, the candy and much more. It’s the sum of the experience, and you don’t need trick or treating to have that.
Of 2011, my son told me, “I had the most awesome Optimus Prime costume!” He also urged me to tell you a lot about the trunk or treating event, because he really loved it.
For my daughter, it’s the little moments that stand out most in her mind. Last year, when she and her friends all dressed as Minions for Halloween, they met a little boy on the street also dressed as a Minion. “My brothers!” he exclaimed. She grins widely when she tells me that story. She also remembers costumes from other years, parties and fun had with friends and at home.
Instead of mourning what isn’t this year — or worse, complaining about it — focus on what you can do. Carve pumpkins. Take a stroll through a neighborhood and check out the decorations. Dress up, just because. Break out the Halloween flicks you love. Fill a bowl with candy and share it.
The pandemic has been in Maine since March. In recent days, a clear spike in cases has been seen here. This is a good reason not to trick or treat this year. But I also understand the yearning for “normal” — for the things we usually do.
However, sometimes the best things come when we break out of our molds and do something different. Maybe this will be the year your kids always remember as the epic movie marathon Halloween. Maybe it will be the year they remember the whole family dressing up in last-minute costumes and having a family Zoom parade with all their loved ones. Maybe it will be something else that you do that becomes an epic year in their minds.
It’s OK to miss the “normal” activities we’re used to. But it’s better to open up to new possibilities. That’s what makes things special.