Childless Halloween: Trick or Treat?

37738124 - halloween still life with pumpkins and halloween holiday text
Copyright: alexraths / 123RF Stock Photo

It’s time for kid-centered holidays. Labor Day was no problem. But Halloween is a different story. All those kids whining about costumes and candy. All those proud parents taking pictures of their little ones dressed as pumpkins, Ninja Turtles, or whatever’s hot this year. Carving pumpkins, baking orange-frosted cupcakes, buying sugary treats to hand out at the door. It sounds exhausting.

Yesterday, I asked my hair stylist, mother of four, if she was ready for Halloween. She sighed. “Almost. I still have a few more things to do.” At that moment, I did not mind one bit that I don’t have children. Christmas is bad enough.

Yes, it might be fun to do Halloween with my kids. I might enjoy every minute of it. By now my children would be adults, possibly bringing their own children to my house to show their costumes to “Grandma.” I’d be posting pictures like crazy. But that’s not going to happen. Living out here in the spooky old woods, I don’t even get other people’s kids coming to the door. So I don’t have to buy candy. I still have a few of last year’s Tootsie Pops that I bought in a fit of optimism, but it’s too dark out here. If somebody knocks on the door, it might be a bear.

Remember that even if you had children, you might not see them on Halloween. My father’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all live far away, and he won’t see them on Halloween. Mostly he just worries about trick-or-treaters smashing his plants and trashing his yard.

I could feel sorry for myself on Halloween, but I have choices, as do you. I can go to one of the many events for children and shower them with candy and compliments about their costumes or visit someone who lives in a more child-friendly neighborhood. My late mother-in-law lived in a section of town where people brought their kids by the busload. For several years, she hid in a back room while Fred and I handed out little Hershey Bars for hours. It was fun.

If you live in civilization, you can enjoy decorating your house and yard and offering tricks and treats to the neighborhood kids. Dress up, get silly. If you don’t have a kid, be a kid.

Or put on your own costume and go party with other adults. Karaoke, anyone? Pumpkin-tinis? Dancing to “The Monster Mash?”

If someone is pushing you to watch them and their kids have fun, you can go and be the fun “auntie” or “uncle.” You can also say no, stay home, turn out the porch light and watch “Dancing with the Stars.” It’s okay.

What are your plans for Halloween? Are you looking forward to it or dreading it?

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Here we go again

I was sitting at dinner with three other women all talking about writing. Soon they were comparing numbers of children. One had four, one had three, one had two. I have dogs. In the context of the conversation, I felt lucky to have more time to write and freedom to travel. With my husband in a nursing home, I don’t need to rush home anymore. But once again I felt left out of a very important part of life. I also felt it more important than ever to write about what it’s like to be childless, especially in a situation where if I had chosen a different man, I could have been a mom. I have to live with that fact forever, and I have to live with those moments where I’m the only one without children.

On Halloween, I played piano for the 5:30 p.m. Mass. Attendance was light. It never occurred to me until someone mentioned it afterward that folks would be busy escorting their trick-or-treaters around the neighborhood. I have never had to costume a child and worry about whether he would be Spiderman or a pirate or some critter I don’t even know about because I’m not up on kid culture. After Mass, I went to a grownup party with grownup drinks and no kids, just dogs. Sometimes it feels as if children exist in an alternate universe.

Know what I mean?