Here in America there is a phenomenon that happens every October 31st .
In cities and towns across the country we encourage our little ones (and even sometimes ourselves) to dress up as anything our hearts desire and go from house to house asking for goodies. I have been told that it is common in some neighborhoods for folks to go through a dozen bags of candy in a few hours after the sun goes down.
Having never lived in town our boys had to travel to my wife’s hometown of Bend, Oregon a few years ago to experience anything remotely close to this kind of an occurrence.
We loaded up with her brother’s family and their two boys and drove to a subdivision known for its wealth of “good goodies”. Upon arrival I was astounded to see the roads filled with creatures large and small, a string of headlights of dads driving slowly along and decorations filling the yards that ranged from a full haunted house theme, blow up witches and werewolves to a collection of straw bales, spider webs and carved pumpkins.
Every house seemed decked out in its finest with lights ablaze and someone at the door with a huge bowl of store-bought treats.
We spent about 90 minutes and each child brought home a pillow case full of candy, pencils, plastic bats, Dracula teeth and more…. most of which didn’t make it on the flight home the next day to their dismay. (Thank God for airline weight restrictions this one time!)
Here in rural America we tend to always do things just a little different.
Over the past 15 years we have lived here in Miami, New Mexico the amount of children of trick-or-treating age has fluctuated from as many as 15 down to four or five.
This year we had a pretty good bunch: I think the grand total ended up at eight or nine.
Since two of the families were new to the area we decided to invite them along with us… to show them the way… you know… break em in slowly to this new style of gathering goodies.
We all met with wee ones in tow at our house to try & convince the little ones to eat something nutritious prior to the chocolate fest on which we were about to embark.
We did have a small hitch in the evening at the last minute when our eleven year old was invited to take part as a spook in the Philmont Scout Ranch’s Haunted House – 20 miles in the opposite direction, requiring Dad to run him into town to meet up with his “crew” and, of course, go pick him back up again later.
No sweat, just another 80 miles up and down Highway 21 …
As soon as the sun started to sink down, the battle began. How fast can three mother’s clean hands and faces, stuff their five children into costumes, and load them into the back of the SUV and down the driveway?
About five minutes flat!
With our pirate, a witch, an astronaut, baby skunk and hillbilly dressed and ready, it was off to Highway 21 for some rural trick or treating.
Yes, one SUV, three sets of parents, four little ones, two hours, 12 homes, 20 miles and no traffic later, we returned with bags loaded up with candy, faces and hands smudged with melted chocolate and memories that will last a lifetime.
You see, out here one never knows who – or if anyone – will show up at your door on Halloween.
Sometimes you might get one car with two or three kids; some years three cars with 10 to 12 kids total; some years there is no one.
So folks around here usually make up a bowl of goodies, turn on the porch light, tie the dogs up, then go watch TV. Sometimes they forget about Halloween altogether.
But the fun out here isn’t the candy, it’s in the visiting.
You see, out here, more often than not we ended up, not on the front porch, but standing around their kitchens.
These neighbors of ours are just as busy as we are and often months go by without us seeing each other. So, as the kiddos loaded up on candy and home-baked sweets right out of the ovens, those of us over the age of 25 caught up on what was going on in each other’s lives, swapped stories of recent horse-wrecks and talked about the weather.
Of the people we visited, three didn’t even know it was Halloween.
Only two houses had decorations on their porches, one single cowboy answered the door in his boxer shorts, but went and found full-sized candy bars for the kids (they were probably for his lunches), at least three places offered the men a beer as we stood around visitin’ and everyone smiled, welcomed us and found something for the kiddos.
Now, those of you who live in the city may think you have it made when it comes to life, especially on days like Halloween where you can pick out your nice, flat, full of candy subdivision.
But now that I’ve tried it both ways, I think I’ll stick to my Highway 21 Halloween.
There are just some things that make being in the country such a great place to live and, of course, a great place to raise our kids.