Thursday, November 5, 2009

What Happened To Halloween?

My family gathered for Halloween, except for my daughter-in-law, Wendy, and new Grandbaby, Nicholas, who were sick. Our son, Jeff, took a train from Palo Alto, which is down the peninsula from San Francisco; then caught our local commuter train which brought him all the way into Berkeley where he was picked up by my husband, Jerry. Our other son, Glenn, came on the freeway with our Grandson, Theo, a trip of some 40 minutes. This was going to be a big Halloween; the first one that Theo would remember so we were gathering.

We had every expectation that we would have a big turnout. Our neighbors see us on the street or heading up our steps these days and they corner us and ask if they can see our garden. Here was a chance to see it without having to grab one of us when we started up the steps. Our lights were on and that means we were well lit.

No one came, except for this adorable bunch of kids--and one other bunch about the same age--and that was hours later. No one was on the sidewalks, none of the house were lit that you would expect to see lit, even a house across the street from us who had gone to the trouble of putting out a really adorable Halloween exhibit was dark. I thought of Halloween nights in Minnesota when I was a kid--the smell of burning leaves, the crisp Fall air, groups of kids darting across dark streets. Halloween was a big deal way back when.

Glenn took Theo over to another neighborhood earlier to be with the other Grandma and the two of them went from door to door. They came back in plenty of time to see the festivities. We waited and waited. Nothing.

My husband had gone down to our neighborhood shopping street to pick up some things which were needed for dinner. He said the merchants had all opened their doors and were handing out treats. This explained part of the mystery. It seemed very strange that they would do that, actually. I have always thought of Halloween as a neighborhood thing and merchants were opening up their doors to hand out treats? It also turned out that families were having Halloween parties in their homes. The final thing suggested as an explanation was that Halloween this year fell on a Saturday when people would naturally have time to throw a party. If it had fallen on a weeknight we might have had a totally different story. I'm wondering if we're not afraid of Halloween now. Too many scary things have happened so we keep our kids close to us. Parties are fine, going to neighborhood merchants are fine, but going door to door is Verboten.

When these kids showed up I was so excited I grabbed my camera. Halloween at last!