This was a bittersweet Halloween for the Brewer Boys and their mom. For the first time in about seven or eight years, we didn't have ready-made plans for Halloween. This was the first time we looked at each other and said, "What do we want to do for Halloween?"
Because, see, up to this point we've always gone trick-or-treating with the Gafford Girls across the street. The moms are BFFs, so the kids are destined to play together. Luckily, the five kids all like each other, so it works for us. In previous years, we always waited until it got dark, walked across the street, and started out together stocking up on enough sugar to keep a dentist in business for life. There was no discussion, no "are we on for 10/31?," no question. It was a given that we'd go door-to-door with them.
Last year, since Halloween was on Friday, we drove from H'ville back down to Smyrna (where we still owned a house) and continued the tradition. This year we sold our house in May, so we knew things would be different. Sure, we could've driven back to Smyrna and continued the tradition, but Dan and I decided the kids needed to do something with their friends up here. We just didn't know what.
Ryan decided that he's too old for trick-or-treating, so he didn't even buy a costume this year. He wore an old alien mask with black sweats just long enough for his free kids' meal. We went to Zaxby's for free kids' meals, even though Ryan is technically two years too old for their kids' meals. But since the child doesn't eat and I'm on a diet, we managed to split his kids' meal with a couple of fries left over.
Lily dressed up as Pocahontas--for about five minutes, until she started chewing the costume off and looking up at me with a completely humiliated expression on her face, and periodically glancing at the window as if to say, "I sincerely hope the cat can't see me in this, because if she can, I've completely lost all street cred as a big dog." Aaron declared his costume "the best one ever" and enjoyed wearing it at every possible opportunity all week long. He was Optimus Prime.
Then we went to the Brassell's house because, as a paranormal investigator, this is Denise's penultimate national holiday. Their front yard is the coolest Halloween celebration I've ever seen. Plus, they were celebrating their grandbaby's first birthday (naturally it's on Halloween), so they had even more decorations up than normal.
Then, because he's too old for this business now, Ryan stayed home with his dad to hand out candy. Problem is, there are NO trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. None. A few houses sat there with their lights on, looking all bright and hopeful, but there were no little goblins running around. Despite the fact that Dan bought four bags of candy, we didn't even bother turning our porch lights on. It was just too sad to hope that someone would show up. The big boys stayed in the man cave and played Wii games while Aaron and I set out on our journey.
We drove over to the neighborhood across the street from our school. It's like our old neighborhood: self-contained, lots of kids, houses close together for maximum candy collecting. The biggest difference between this one and our old neighborhood? These houses are built around a pond with a fountain in the middle, have sidewalks everywhere, and start at about half a million dollars. Minor difference, really.
So Aaron and I walked from house to house, alone, just the two of us saying "trick-or-treat" in a very lukewarm voice. We ran into a few kids that I know from school, but Aaron didn't see anybody he knows. He enjoyed himself, but I was very lonely. No Grace to talk to, no girls chattering, no Ryan to fuss at to get out of the middle of the road. Sigh. After a couple of streets, Aaron decided that he was cold and ready to go home. I couldn't help but think, "I missed going to a grown-up party and bonfire for this?"
Next year I'll have to plan ahead of time to have Aaron meet up with some of his friends. Ryan will probably be at some kind of middle school party. Or maybe he'll still be sitting in the basement playing video games--his default position, no matter what the occasion.
No matter what we do from here on out, I'll always remember this Halloween as the end of an era.