I thought halloween was a simple holiday.

Put on something weird, ring a doorbell, get candy, repeat. Simple.
But then I had children. Children make you think about things you never thought you would – like how walking miles in a circle holding a screaming baby can be oddly meditative or how unbelievably fast you can change sheets at 3 am in the dark while sound asleep or how catching vomit is not as bad as it sounds.

Well, when my kids were trick or treating in our neighborhood, I learned a lot.

1. Do not run across a lawn on Halloween.

My neighborhood goes all-out with Halloween decorations. Things are hanging from trees, lights are flashing, smoke is rising- it’s a mardi-gras for trick or treaters. One year my daughter, at the time a very tiny slip of a girl, was walking up to a house and a teenage, at the time looking about 6 feet tall, jumped off the porch dressed as the silent scream and starts chasing her. Well, without thinking, I jump over the property’s hedge shouting “Stop!” and I start running across the lawn to save her. Instead I end up in a ditch with four plastic skeletons, plastic bloody limbs and a tombstone. As I begin to get up from the makeshift grave, another little girl dressed as a fairy walks by, mistakes me for a zombie and starts screaming. HER mother walks over and gives me quite an earful about how I should know better than to scare little kids. Karma.

2. Put a light on their back.

When my son was little, he could not walk three feet without karate chopping or jumping or rolling. So one year, he wanted to be an action hero – big surprise. He was really just wearing all black, so I think he was actually a made-up combo of a ninja and a superhero with a jumbled name like – Dr. Flashskin or Kickbowpunchman or something. Anyway, we went walking around the neighborhood with his group of little friends all of which were wearing dark colors. I think they were a tribe of ninja/superheroes – obviously some discussion had gone into this. It was all good, until I met someone I knew who stopped to chat. I told the boys to wait… and they did… except my son… who, without missing a beat, joined another family to get candy at the next house. I saw him out of the corner of my eye, grabbed him and attached my cell phone/flashlight to the back of his costume, that way I could see MY ninja/superhero from afar. I did wonder how long he would have stayed with that other family before realizing I wasn’t there – a block? a day? college?

3. Enjoy it.

Every Halloween I made costumes and decorated and dunked for apples and bought candy and threw scary-themed parties. I did all this with varying degrees of passion – some years more than others. I also thought that it would never end. I would always be the go-to costume- maker, candy-buyer, house-decorator. But now that my kids are older… it’s over… I mean I still decorate and buy some candy but it’s different, they are on their own and in the way that it was…it’s over. So, take a moment to really BE there, to SEE it, FEEL it, LOVE it. I did and I wish I had done that more.

Have a safe and fun Halloween!

Alison Martin

Alison Martin -- wife, mom, Emmy-award winning actress, writer, chocoholic. Bronx Italian, daughter of Pultizer Prize winning reporters, who also identifies as L.A. Irish. Shout outs: Dan, Emilia, Brady, pooches - LuLu & Ted, friends, Mother Earth, serendipity, peace, VIPHS, Boldfaced Secret, living life like your socks feel real good.

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