Is any night of the year more fun than Halloween? Not when you’re a kid! I’ve always loved the holiday and have many fond memories, starting from a young age.
Peter Ryan and I were inseparable elementary school friends in White Plains, New York. My family once went on a monthlong vacation, and Peter was waiting for us on his bike when we returned. He was so excited to see me that he jumped off his bike and it went straight up into the air after hitting a big rock as he came over to hug me!
Of course, this was definitely the friend that you had to go with for trick-or-treating . We were so proud of making our own costumes and we thought we had the most creative, best-looking outfits in town. Looking at the photographs as an adult, I can’t quite imagine what we were thinking. We looked less like masters of disguise and more like a comedy of errors!
My family moved to Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, but it wasn’t very far, and Peter and I were able to continue our adventures. I am happy to say that to this day we have remained good friends. I remember my mom wanted to be fair to the younger kids and prevent us from gorging on chocolate, so she instituted a rule where we all had to put our trick-or-treat haul in a communal pot that she’d divvy up as she saw fit.
Naturally, this didn’t sit well with the older kids who could put more work into their trick-or-treating. My siblings and I had to get a little craftier with our candy during this period. We devised a plan that involved tying a string on something in our bedrooms and tossing it out the window. Once we had almost finished trick-or-treating, we’d attach our bags in the yard and run back into the house, claiming we needed to grab something. We’d pull the candy up, hide all the best treats under our mattresses, lower the bag back down, then “finish” trick-or-treating. When we brought our hauls to Mom, they consisted of Jujubes and candy apples. She was always amazed we got so little!
I’ll also never forget one woman in our Woodcliff Lake neighborhood. Every year, she had a box in front of her house with a sign that said, “Please take one.” But no matter how early we got there, all the candy was always gone. We were furious at the other kids who had selfishly stolen it for themselves.
One year, we decided to swing by her house after school. We hung out across the street and waited. Eventually, she placed the box on her porch, got in her car, and drove away. We ran straight over — and found an empty box! We supposed it was her way of ensuring her house wasn’t egged while also not shelling out for candy.
Many years later, my love of Halloween transferred over to my children. I’ll never forget the year they made their own costumes. Alecia was Princess Leia from Star Wars, and Nicholas converted a trash can to make himself look like R2D2!
We had a wonderful tradition where a neighborhood family would always have a gathering at their house before trick-or-treating. The kids and parents would get together, have a chance to view everyone’s costumes, and snap some photos. My kids always loved that little meet-and-greet, and I hope they’ll be inclined to do something similar when they have their own children. After all, reliving your childhood through your kids’ Halloween adventures is one of the perks of being a parent.