All Saints Day (A Recap)

The numbers:

First toddling trick-or-treater (Strawberry Shortcake and a sleeping sibling berry) — 4:45.

Pieces of candy, doled out one by one — 450.

Candle in the jack-o-lantern snuffed and the porchlight turned off because we’d given every single Tootsie Roll away — 7:45.

This morning, the sidewalk is littered with cast-off fangs, a confetti of candy wrappers.  Another Halloween has come and gone.

For years, I claimed Halloween was a holiday that left me cold.  For one thing, it was the biggest day of the year when I worked retail in a vintage clothing store,  and having to help college frat-boys find last minute costumes (in the mid-80s, they often gravitated toward drag) can really put a damper on your Halloween fun.

And then, much more recently, when the Girleens were quite tiny, Halloween seemed to last for weeks.   Some years we attended three or four  parties before October 31 even rolled around.  All those  Peanut Butter Cups I filched made me feel gross, and besides,  Halloween turned out to be a holiday that brought out my maternal insecurities.  My family would never figure out how to roam the neighborhood as the Tattooed Man, the Bearded Lady and the toddler Strongman.  We were boring.

This year, I have a streak of gray in my hair as broad as a barn*  and we’ve reached a Halloween sweet spot.  The Girleens by and large figure out their own costumes (I just have to open my wallet or drive them to the thrift store).  The event lasts three hours, quick and dirty. I supply pizza and set a few ground rules and then I can sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

But yesterday morning, I drove Younger Girleen to school, along a route I’ve driven for seven  years now.  The car radio was tuned to the sugary, most repetitive pop station transmitting throughout metro Atlanta, because that’s how we roll these days.  The morning dee-jays were nattering on. Their topic?

“My mom was so lazy she dressed me as xxx for Halloween three years in a row.”

I get it.  I am not the target market for the most sugary pop radio station imaginable in Atlanta— my daughters are.  And being irritated by either the 1.) sexism, or the 2.) lack of agency  displayed in a conversation between two radio dee-jays at 7:40 in the morning is — well, it’s bootless.

Likewise, I understand how  popular culture is all about taking “ownership” of aspersions cast on you as a way of making them toothless.

I am a lazy mom!  A bad mom!  Hear me roar.

But you know, no wonder the statistic that 1 out of every 4 middle-aged women in America takes anti-depressants.

We may still have work to do, friends.

But all that is neither here nor there.

What is?

Our scrappy urban neighborhood has become a magnet for trick-or-treaters.  450 pieces of candy given out!  The kids traipse house-to-house in packs; the parents hang back.  To get that candy  you want, you’ve got to walk up to the stranger’s house.  Is the person who approaches friend or foe? You’ve got to assess.  You’ve got to brave the darkness.

O, lazy mothers, everywhere, take heart!  The point of Halloween is not, no matter what the dee-jays claim,  greed or the most creative costume.

On Halloween, our children  navigate uncertainty for a few hours, while we parents stand back, trying to keep our well-meaning hands off.  To watch them run in packs in defiance of the rustling shadows is the holiday’s sweetest reward.

*That gray hair?   Not  a costume.

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