I’ve always loved celebrating Halloween with my children.
When they were small, I’d hold their hands and sometimes when the door opened, I’d cajole them into their requesting rhyme. I’d charge a Butterfinger and two Snickers for my chaperoning services, a fee they didn’t mind since those were not their favorite candies anyway.
On the way back home, the kids would walk slower with masks atop their heads and lips stained blue or cherry red from snacking on lollipops. We would dump all the candy on the kitchen table and gleeful trading would go on as we waited for the pizza dinner to arrive.
As they got older, the kids wanted to spend Halloween with their friends. I'd still accompany them from an embarrassment-free distance along with the other moms. When it began to get dark out, we would convene at home, where more massive candy trading games occurred and more pizzas were delivered.
When the oldest of my three children asked to treat alone with her friends, I relented quickly. She was mature enough and responsible. It actually made things easier since her siblings still required my services and they didn’t always want to go together. The same was true when my second requested her treating autonomy. It was sad not to tag along with her but I understood it was a rite of passage.
When my husband got home, we looked at each other and realized that not having a kid to trick-or-treat with made us both feel old and sad.
But when my third, my baby, said that he was "too old to trick-or-treat with Mommy," I was crushed.
It wasn’t that I thought he wasn’t mature enough. He understood the rules I had given his older sisters; only go to houses you know, look out for cars, stay with the group and be polite.
He was ready; I was not. I was being kicked out of a ritual I absolutely loved. Instead of accompanying my kids, I was stuck giving out candy (a worthy but less satisfying role) and staring at my iPhone watching my son’s icon while he traveled the blocks we once visited together. When my husband got home, we looked at each other and realized that not having a kid to trick-or-treat with made us both feel old and sad.
The following year my husband and I decided to create a new tradition. The old holiday needed a modern twist. After we gave out candy at our house, we met several other “fired” parents to join us for dinner at a local restaurant.
It wasn't the same as Halloweens past, but it was actually a fun night. And at 9 p.m. we all turned back into "pumpkins," our services once again required as the kids needed rides home from the festivities.
In the kitchen that night, I looked at my son and realized that his days of trick-or-treating would soon be behind him as well. His “costume” was now just a football jersey and his “treat bag” was now a brown supermarket bag rather than the plastic pumpkin he carried for so many years.
“How was your Halloween?” I asked. “Did you miss me?”
He shook his head and laughed. “It was fun, Mom,” he replied before turning to go upstairs to shower. Then, he paused and came back into the kitchen.
“I got you something,” he said as he dropped a Butterfingers and two Snickers on the counter. “I know you like these.”
He gave me a hug, and I smiled as I watched him barrel up the steps two at a time. Then I ripped open the wrapper to indulge in the sweet taste that still remains of one of my favorite holidays.