Cait and I went Trick-or-Treating with friends last night, and, for the first time in decades, I experienced Halloween as I remembered it as a kid.

For a time, when I was young, we lived in a great neighborhood where everyone knew each other and the kids all played in one big pack. In that neighborhood, Halloween was celebrated with as much fanfare as Christmas. Everyone decorated their houses. Costumes were thought out and planned in advance. Halloween night had the feel of Marti Gras. Every house was lit up, and everyone walked in the streets, talking and gawking.

Since Cait’s been born, it’s seemed that Halloween has become a washed out, watered down version of itself, with a scare of razor blades in apples, and tampered candy, sending trick-or-treaters off the streets and into school and home parties.

Last night, we found a neighborhood just like the one I grew up in, where the spirit of Halloween was alive and well. The houses were all close together, the roads were blocked so everyone could walk safely. There were dozens of adults milling about, as flocks of children ran from house to house. Each home was decked out more elaborately than the last, with pumpkin carving elevated to high art. Some houses even offered Apple Cider for the grown ups. And, to top it all off, the weather was perfect; the temperature a balmy 68 degrees. It couldn’t have been a nicer night or a better time. We’ll definitely be back next year.

Andrew held down the fort back at our house. Did we get any visitors? Nope. Haven’t in the fifteen years we’ve lived here. Houses too far apart on a country road. Any neighbors with little kids scattered, like we did, to the packed-in neighborhoods. That, plus Kiera and Graidy like to add their own ghoulish blast of baying in the windows to help move any passers-by along.

By the way, everyone knows that chocolate (especially semi-sweet) is poisonous for dogs, right? Cait knows to keep her loot in a screw-top cannister–about the only contraption that can foil our dogs. Now, if only we could devise a tamper-proof container to foil her father…

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