I've just never been that into Halloween. Not when I was a kid, not now.
Even so, sometimes I can sense that I'm leaving gaps in my son's childhood that he may feel wistful about later.
Most times, I don't really mind. I figure we'll fill them in with our own traditions and memories that will be just as meaningful and evoke enough nostalgia that will make up for the fact that his parents weren't always culturally mainstream.
But this year I decide to give a nod to one of the biggies and have Landon participate a little in Halloween. Translation: I really want to justify buying a bag of snack-sized chocolate. Three, actually. We should be prepared and do this right.
So I tell Landon that in a few days some kids are going to come over in costumes and ask for candy and would he like to pass it out? This idea is thrilling to him and I get no end of reminders to buy the candy.
All afternoon he is running around talking about how it's all going to go down. He preps the foyer with the candy bowl, a chair to set it on, and one for himself so he can camp out and be ready for each kid.
I dig out a doggie costume my sister gave us last year (or was it the year before?) to snap a few pictures of Landon as proof that we didn't totally neglect his childhood. He seemed happy with it; happier still with the prospect of my putting "cara" on his face for a few whiskers and nose.
At the last minute he decided to wear some new footies my mom had bought him that had a racing motif on them. "I want to be a race car driver, mom. Can you draw a number on my face instead?"
Sure thing, buddy. Two eyeliner-drawn threes coming right up.
We are ready. I stopped counting how many times Landon climbed to the back of the couch to check the front window to see if any kids were coming. I lost track of how many times he asked me where the kids were. I was in awe of how many times he asked if he could have a piece of the candy himself: once.
My in-laws called to say that their neighborhood was beginning to get active (and fearing that mine was going to be a complete dud) we packed up the half-prepared dinner and the candy in a cooler and drove over there in hopes that some kids would come.
We were ready. They had way better candy and had already had one group stop by; I felt hopeful that the real event was just about to happen.
But darkness got darker, minutes kept ticking and things were not looking good. Am I the only nonHalloweener wishing I lived in a neighborhood smitten with it?
Finally the doorbell rings. It's Landon's face I wish I could have photographed at that moment; not any costume. We ran to the door a little wildly and flung it open in such happy anticipation.
There was my father-in-law, on his knees, hands up by his chin like little paws and wearing black mouse ears squeaking, "Trick or treat. Trick or treat!" I started laughing so hard my belly hurt. Landon was completely befuddled. Even after he gave him some candy.
When he came in he said, "You are such a goofball, Grandpa," and I had to to agree. In a good way. Oh the lengths we'll go for those we love.
Landon settles back in to eating one of the custom-decorated lollipops when the doorbell rang again. Here we go, I think. So I ramp it up even more; you would think I thought we were being filmed for a million dollar prize or something. Grab the candy. Fling the door!
It is some guy with his jacket pulled up over his head saying in a raspy, creepy voice, "Trick or treat. Trick or treat." and for a moment both Landon and I are taken back. Until I realize it is Bill, trying to be the headless horseman (I think). Landon looks at me like, "What is this, mom?" and asks quite innocently, "Where are the kids?"
Does young at heart count, buddy?
At long last we get a group of bona-fide, costumed children who are properly delighted that we have double doses of candy for each of them.
My favorite line as Landon troops back to the kitchen to finish off that lollipop,
"I knew they would come mom. I knew the kids would come."
He seems so genuinely happy that all this hoopla has been for all of six kids diminishing our outsize stash by precisely 12 pieces of candy.
I don't know what his take-away from all this is going to be, but I know I won't soon forget the two goofy guys who tried to make sure there was one.