Quite frankly, I wasn’t planning to do anything for Halloween this year.
Some years ago, when little trick-or-treaters came trotting down our street for the first time, we had been totally unprepared. As we didn’t have a stash of chocolate or sweeties to hand out as treats, I confess that we turned off all the lights and hid away until they stopped ringing our bell.
The next two years, to compensate, we dressed up as a witch and a devil, with proper costumes and make-up. I even learned how to bake Báirin Breac (or barmbrack), which is a delightful Irish tradition for Oíche Shamhna (Irish Gaelic for Halloween).
We had a blast! And so did the kids. Most of them were accompanied by their parents, and had taken the trouble to dress up in really inventive costumes, some homemade, some bought: There were ghosts and ghouls, witches and wizards, of course, but also fairies, princesses, action heroes, doctors, nurses, fairy tale characters… Word seemed to get round that we had a great stash – and all too soon the last of our chocolates was gone!
We didn’t join in again for a couple of years, for various reasons.
This year, some enterprising folk in our neighbourhood had created a website, on which you could mark your house if you were playing along, and then the parents could work out the best route to follow. You could also print out a large pumpkin and stick it on your fence as a marker. Or simply decorate your house and garden with all kinds of Halloween paraphernalia. However, I had no plans to participate.
Well, hubby did.
Much to my surprise, he came home with two large bags of Quality Street chocolates (the best!) from the shops. The first batch of trick-or-treaters arrived before we were quite ready. And because they’d dressed up so adorably and were so polite – saying please and thank you under the watchful eyes of their parents – I felt that I too had to make a bit of an effort. Luckily, a cat ‘costume’ complete with a feathery tail was quickly assembled!
And so, for the next hour and a bit, we dashed in and out of the house to play along with the young trick-or-treaters – until our sweets ran out. Ahem… that was my fault – I didn’t have the heart to tell them, sternly, “two chocolates only!” And some took entire handfuls… Sigh.
By then, I was absolutely ravenous, so we removed the printed out pumpkin from the gate, prepared a quick supper for ourselves and turned off the lights. I felt really bad about ignoring the next lots of trick-or-treaters who arrived, but I didn’t think they’d appreciate being given a choice between “an apple, or a handful of pecan nuts”.
Clearly, next time we need to have more chocolates and candy to hand out.
Alternatively, of course, my assistant could be a bit more participative and bit stricter about enforcing the “two/three chocolates per person only!” rule.
Because when a cute fairy princess or a handsome little Superman or even a scary ghoul gives you that look, it’s really difficult for me to say no.