It’s Halloween night.
For the past several years, I’ve gotten used to gazing upon Halloween night from afar. I went to college, and I pushed it away, no longer understanding its allure and confused about why adults went to great lengths to create a spooky environment for 25 of their closest drunk friends. It was an overnight thing – one year I was excited and celebrating and being a goofball with all of my friends as well; the next, I was rolling my eyes and staying inside to watch something decidedly not Halloween oriented.
I begrudgingly dressed up when asked, or I did something in the spirit of Halloween, but I always did it because I was supposed to. I didn’t look forward to it by any means. I simply said to myself, “I’m too old for this. Whatever. Halloween is just not my day – more power to everyone else.”
I convinced myself that I was over Halloween.
Tonight, I realize it wasn’t that I was over it. I just had the scope all wrong. Halloween isn’t for adults.
It’s for our kids.
Well, truthfully, it partially is for us, but only by association.
Driving home tonight from a friends house – where three other babies were dressed in Halloween costumes and three other pairs of parents giggled and oohed and ahed – I saw trick or treaters everywhere.
And I remembered back to my days trick or treating. The doling out of candy, the early morning outfit check, the long lasting linger of sugar and chocolate – spreading itself out over a three week period, one piece per day in a school lunch. I remember dumping a pile of sweets on the floor and trading them with my friends as if I had just dumped out a bag of 1986 Topps rookie cards.
I remember the darkness, and the ingenuity, and the excitement in guessing what my friends might show up as. Most of all, I remember that, above everything, there was a buzz throughout the city. Every child of trick or treating age was champing at the bit, struggling to keep the joy inside, and then when darkness fell, the entire lot of us burst out onto the Sioux Falls landscape to beg for candy from strangers. That’s right. It was the one night we could buck conventional wisdom and accept a strange Resee’s peanut butter cup.
For one night, the world was ours. We overtook every house we could find with the lights on, and we pounded on the doors of those who thought they were safe, save the foolishly lit basement light or the flicker of a television. We were in charge, dressed like vandals, stealing through the night in search of better prey.
I thought back on my younger trick or treating days and realized I was all wrong. It wasn’t that I grew up too fast. It was that I didn’t bother to leave things in perspective. I forgot that Halloween was a day for kids.
Now, through the eyes of a father, I can begin to understand what makes it so special.