Once upon a time we lived in a small town.
Not my town. My husband’s town. It was an OK sort of place, not without its quirks. Like the way nearly all the town’s businesses were shut on Mondays. Or the way they printed obituaries on the front page of the newspaper. Or the large horse ankle bone by the highway:
(which, really, deserves its own post, another time).
Suffice it to say, there were adjustments to be made.
The first year we lived there together, I came home one day, a week before Halloween, to find a note inside my door. I scanned it, picked my jaw up off the floor, then waited for Owen to get home.
“What kind of Nazi regime are we living under!?!” is how I greeted him at the door.
He looks at the note, casually puts it aside. “Oh yeah, that’s just how we do it here.”
What is in this little missive that shocks me so very much?
“This note is to inform you that you will be visited by 12 trick or treaters, sometime between 3:30 and 5:00 pm on October 30. Please have your treats ready at that time. Thanks for your cooperation. Signed, The Town’s School.”
That’s right. The school RAN Halloween. They organized the kids into groups, Grade 6 and under. They decided exactly which houses those groups would visit (approximately 20 houses per group). And if Halloween had the audacity to fall on a non-school day?
They just moved it.
“But…but…how can they just…TAKE OVER?” Halloween, as I understood it, was all about chaos. How had no one protested this? What about kids older than Grade 6, younger than school age that wanted to Trick or Treat? Didn’t anyone have a problem being told which houses they were “allowed” to hit?
“Well, yeah. It just sort of works.” He tried to reassure me. I was sure this system was just set up for failure. Never mind that they’d been doing it this way for years, clearly, my outsider’s perspective would show them the grievous error of their ways.
So I waited, that Friday afternoon. At exactly 4:00, 12 little kids came to my door. Every one of them excited and happy to be there. I had exactly enough candy, because I knew beforehand how many kids to expect. The town’s little kids joined in, welcomed by the school to be part of the organized fun. And the kids who were above Grade 6? Were too damn old to Trick or Treat anyway. So they didn’t. And even with all those uber-polite little kids saying thank you, and showing off their costumes, the whole shebang took less than 15 minutes. At which time I was free to enjoy my Halloween weekend in whatever non-kid way I chose.
Now that we live in the city, I will spend my Saturday night freezing my arse off, repeatedly opening my door to kids who will traipse through my neighborhood starting at I-haven’t-even-finished-supper-yet until man-I-wish-this-was-over-I’m-going-to-turn-off-the-lights-and-pretend-we’re-not-here. I may run out of candy, because there’s no way of knowing how many kids there will be. Kids who are way too old to be trick or treating will get candy from me, because I don’t want them to throw things at my house. And even if I wanted to do something grown up on a Saturday night, I’ll be too tired by the time it’s all over.
Oh, those small-town rubes and their quaint customs…