1 Nov

Thanks to COVID, this year’s Halloween celebration was atypical but still fun.

The neighbors who are doing a distance learning pod invited Michaela to participate in their festivities. Michaela joined them for a walk to the park, where there was a scavenger hunt for prize packs, and then a drive-through parade at her old school. She seemed to enjoy seeing her old teachers, and it felt (to me at least) like a nice way for her to be part of a school community, which she isn’t getting given our homeschooling situation.

That night, a neighbor with two small kids had a Boo Fest. Costumed kids on our street went from driveway to driveway to get candy and then there was a socially distanced pizza party. I kept up the Watson tradition of giving out full-sized candy bars, and it ended up being the only candy I handed out because I took Michaela trick-or-treating on Halloween night.

Another neighbor had a Halloween party for families on our street (yes– yet another neighbor. We live on an extremely social street!) on Halloween night. I skipped it because I wasn’t into the idea of being around a lot of people, but Michaela went and enjoyed the “kids playing outside” portion of the party. When it got dark, she came home and we went out to trick-or-treat.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but knew that some people would be putting out candy or accepting door-to-door visitors. It was fewer people than I thought, but still plenty. Lots of folks decorated their yards and put tables out with candy on them, and some hung out in their yards and greeted us from a distance. We only say, maybe, four other groups (families) of trick or treaters. It was weird! But I actually loved it.

Michaela is getting older. Next year, she’ll go trick-or-treating with friends. If she goes after that, I know she won’t want me around. So being able to spend this time with her, on a quiet night when we weren’t jockeying with other people or having to make conversation with others, felt very special.

There was one thing, though. And I’m guessing my white friends don’t do this?

Over the years, I’ve heard people make snide remarks and I’ve seen people complain on NextDoor and social media about “outsiders” coming into nicer neighborhoods to trick-or-treat. The grumbling usually has subtext of “poor brown people” and sometimes is accompanied by comments like “I heard them speaking Spanish.” Have you seen and heard this?

As a result, I have a Halloween habit of pointing out that I belong in my neighborhood. In practice this means that when we ran into people who were sitting outside giving candy, I would make comments like, “yeah, we live around the corner and didn’t have many people coming by” or “We’re over on Bounty Street, and I was surprised by how slow it was.”

I didn’t think it was particularly noticeable, but Michaela asked me, “Mom, who do you keep talking about where we live to all these strangers?”

And while it was in no way as important as The Talk, it comes from the same place. I am dreading the time someone questions her presence, and I want her to be armed with strategies to handle it when it happens. I want Michaela to survive and thrive in our neighborhood. Most desperately, I want our society to change so — when she takes her kid(s) trick-or-treating — she doesn’t have to do the same thing I do.

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