Halloween cannot be escaped for long

One of the sober­ing real­it­ies of grow­ing older is the re­cog­ni­tion that there are paths you’ll nev­er wander again — that you swore you’d nev­er want to.

And then…

I was one of those mom­mies who hated Hal­loween. It re­minded me that while oth­er wo­men with chil­dren could craft art­ful cos­tumes out of card­board and felt and se­quins, I was left quak­ing each time Oc­to­ber rolled around. 

No way could I pull off such mir­acles.

So I re­treated be­hind my in­ad­equa­cies, nev­er, ever had the right cos­tumes for our three little Hal­loween­ers, and blushed at the school­yard parade that Jill, Amy and Nancy ap­peared in hideous make­shift cos­tumes, even though they didn’t seem to mind.

So it was with the greatest re­lief that I scratched Hal­loween off the fam­ily cal­en­dar. Once the girls were teen­agers, they were on their own when it came to cos­tumes. And I was off the hook.

All that was left for me was to stand at the kit­chen door and dole out candy to oth­er people’s chil­dren. And then along came the years of pan­ic when candy was tain­ted or tampered with, and kids no longer came in throngs beg­ging “Trick or Treat!” Frankly, while I hated the reas­on for the lack of vis­it­ors, I didn’t miss the may­hem.

Be­lieve me, I nev­er ima­gined that I’d even think about Hal­loween again. But then along came grand­chil­dren.

Who knew that their mount­ing ex­cite­ment, as sum­mer shif­ted in­to fall, would carry me back to those days of, “What are you go­ing to be for Hal­loween?” It was as if for that one mo­ment in time, the little ones could not just don cos­tumes; they hon­estly be­lieved they could be­come their cos­tume char­ac­ters.

Now I was hear­ing it from all sev­en of the grandkids, even the soph­ist­ic­ated Han­nah, who, then about 13, did the teen Hal­loween scene. Han­nah tried to pull off a cer­tain in­dif­fer­ence, but I knew that lurk­ing in her was the fun of go­ing out later with her posse of pals.

Yes, Hal­loween was back in my life.

And sure enough, an an­nu­al au­tumn long­ing re­turned as I see young moms in neigh­bor­hoods with ex­cited small boys in tow, and over­heard con­ver­sa­tions about which su­per­hero the little guy was go­ing to be. Ditto for little girls seek­ing the ever-pop­u­lar Dis­ney Prin­cess cos­tumes.

As the leaves turn, and the wind kicks up, I’m at loose ends. No crazy masks on the din­ing room table. No jumbled piles of last year’s fab­ric bits on beds.

No prin­cesses or gob­lins or hip­pies dress­ing at our house.

Which is why it has come to pass that on a re­cent Hal­loween, two slightly nutty grand­par­ents drive two hours up the New Jer­sey Turn­pike and back again the same night to check in on four of the sev­en grandkids who still “do” Hal­loween.

We bring the re­quis­ite cam­er­as and pose the little ones on the lawn of our daugh­ter’s house as they squirm in their cos­tumes and beg to be done with this an­noy­ance.

Among them this year will be a prin­cess, a flap­per, a pir­ate and a su­per­hero. And my old an­ti­pathy to Hal­loween will melt away as I walk with them on streets teem­ing with par­ents, kids and oc­ca­sion­al grand­par­ents like us.

See­ing their de­light — re­mem­ber­ing how dec­ades ago, their moth­ers were just as ex­cited and giddy, and just as bent on col­lect­ing their booty in pil­low­cases and dec­or­ated bags — takes the “Bah, hum­bug!” out of Hal­loween.

Fi­nally, after sev­er­al hours of un­mit­ig­ated may­hem, we will kiss the little ones good­bye again this year, and drive back to our se­rene, quiet house.

Once again, I’ll be re­minded that there’s no go­ing back. Not even to places you mis­takenly thought you’d nev­er want to. ••

You can reach at pinegander@aol.com.

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