Surviving a Childless–and COVID–Halloween

Halloween is a non-event when you live alone with no children around. Or it can be. Amid the Facebook barrage of babies and kids in Halloween costumes, Annie the dog and I will live a normal day. Because Halloween is on Sunday this year, I’ll go to church. I’ll walk the dog. I’ll do laundry. I’ll meet with my poetry group. After dark, I will sit in my living room watching something on Netflix. I’m not even going to bother to turn on the porch light. Nobody comes trick-or-treating out here in the woods. It’s too dark and too dangerous, with no sidewalks and wild animals lurking among the trees. In normal years, the few families with kids take them elsewhere to trick-or-treat.

Thanks to COVID, a lot won’t be going anywhere. Some will attend “trunk or treat” drive-through events or gather at local churches. But kids will still be wearing costumes and still expecting candy, even if it all comes from their parents. My neighbors have their Halloween graveyard display set up, many have pumpkins on their porches, and I’ve got orange lights in my window. But we’re not expecting little kids to come knocking on our doors.

Years ago, I asked him about Halloween when he was a kid growing up on a ranch in California back in the 1920s and ‘30s. Did he go trick-or-treating? No, he said. He never did. The houses were spread too far. There were no street lights. Did he have a costume? Nope. The most that happened at his house was that his father might carve a pumpkin. Jack-o-Lantern, he called it. I suspect his mother used the insides to make pies. You couldn’t just throw out food during the Depression.

It was different when my brother and I were growing up. We couldn’t wait to put on our costumes and go up and down the street filling our bags with candy while Mom handed out candy at our house. We knew almost everyone in the houses and all the kids on the street. It was like a big party. I can still taste the green suckers and the Three Musketeers bars.

Times have changed. Now we have COVID. Now people worry about giving kids too much sugar. Now people worry about needles in apples and drugs in cookies. They worry about someone hurting their children. And some of us are alone.

In his last few years, my dad sat in his living room watching TV with the lights off as Halloween went on without him. It was too difficult for him to get up and answer the door. His own children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren lived far away, so he would never see them in their costumes. Unlike most people, he didn’t own a computer or a smart phone to view photos on social media. Mostly he worried about hooligans damaging his lawn or his house.

I was visiting my father in California on his last Halloween at home. I bought candy, put it in a bowl by the door and handed it out to the kids who came. Dad got a kick out of their costumes.

But my father died two years ago, the house was sold and subsequently torn down, and I’m alone in Oregon. Halloween is a hard holiday. I enjoy the fun of costumes, kids, and candy. But not being a mother or grandmother, I’m not part of that world. That’s a mom world, you know?

I could put on my mask and join in somewhere. A friend who is the same age and also widowed posted a Facebook photo of herself in costume with her tiny piano students, also in costume. They all seemed so happy. She has a grown son, but he doesn’t live around here. She didn’t let that stop her from having a happy Halloween. Like everything else, Halloween is what you make of it. Without kids, I guess we have to try harder.

But no, I’m not putting a costume on my dog.

How is Halloween for you this year? Any plans? Any kids around? Does it make you feel your childlessness more than usual?

CNN–and everybody else–has ideas for a COVID-safe Halloween. Kind of takes the fun out of it when you have to carry a bottle of hand sanitizer if you happen to touch something or someone, doesn’t it? Here’s the link to the CNN story on the subject.

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5 thoughts on “Surviving a Childless–and COVID–Halloween

  1. Actually I quite like it. I put up decorations, carve a pumpkin and answer the door to neighbours children. Last year I adapted it slightly by putting up a line with packaged sweets outside the house. There’s a slight poignancy to the sound of excited children, but overall it is nice to know I can do something for them.

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  2. I desperately wish that we would get trick or treaters to make decorating worth it. And to see the little kids in the popular costumes of the year. Sadly we live in the country and have never gotten a trick or treater. I still leave the light on every Halloween night just in case. Maybe that is for the best as maybe it would just be harder to see all of the little pumpkins and Spider-Men being walked from door to door.

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  3. Halloween came and went, and I can’t say I enjoyed it that much. When I thought I would have kids, I imagined how much fun it would be to decorate, live in a neighborhood to go trick or treating, and participate in the fall activities. My partner was away on Sunday, so I was left on my own to manage the door. A quiet reminder of one more holiday alone. We didn’t get many people–I suspect like many, people are not into going out that much due to masking and restrictions. Oh well, may turn off the lights next year.

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  4. This was actually a really nice Halloween — we went with BIL & SIL up to our older nephew’s house and handed out candy (and restrained the dog, lol) while they took our little great-nephew (who will soon be 2) out trick or treating for the very first time. It was so nice to be included and to witness that little milestone, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. 🙂 I used to enjoy seeing the kids & handing out candy when we lived at our house, even though it did lead to some griefy moments… we were still part of the neighbourhood fun, even if we didn’t have kids. Here at our condo building (where we’ve been for the past five years), we have no trick or treaters (even though there are children in the building), and it’s been really weird, a total non-event. So it was nice to be part of it again, and to share in the fun with our family. I know not all childless people are that lucky, though!

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