I probably feel about Halloween the way that people in warm climates feel about Christmas: it’s fun to sing along with Bing (“I’m dreaming of a White Christmas”), even though you’ve never actually seen snow before. Growing up in Maine, the white Christmas was (usually) a reality. Sure, we didn’t roast chestnuts, but we did have an open fire and sleigh rides (on occasion), and we trekked into our woods every year with an ax to cut the perfect tree. Christmas in Maine is practically perfect in every way.

While a Maine Christmas holds true to the image on the front of the greeting cards, a Maine Halloween is not what you find in the movies. I definitely have ‘pseudo’ feelings of what Halloween is: you and your best friends get dressed up in your best costumes, and then some of your parents walk you around the neighborhood. You kick up leaves as you carry your candy sack, people are everywhere. Parents chat and laugh on the front steps as kids shriek and run down the sidewalk. It is a happy, gay affair.

Sounds lovely, but that wasn’t my reality.

Here is what Halloween actually was for me: Come up with the best costume ever! (ok, that part is true to my pseudo vision) and then either force snowpants and a winter jacket under that Halloween costume, or just give up and throw the jacket over your costume. Pile into the car with your siblings (Pa drives while Mom stays home to give out candy to the 3-5 trick-or-treaters that come to the house) and drive a mile to your next door neighbors. Considering you haven’t seen your neighbors since last Halloween, you sit in their kitchen and chat for 30 minutes before piling into the car to drive another mile to the next house. Press repeat. When you are a kid trying to get The Most Candy Ever, this is pure torture.

I just wanted what I saw in the movies (I’m particularly thinking of the trick-or-treat scene in Hocus Pocus – ohhhhh the jealousy I had!). I wanted crisp autumn temperatures, I wanted costumes without snowsuits, I wanted to walk from house to house to house, collecting candy left and right and running with all my friends. Instead, I usually got about 30 pieces of candy that I arranged nightly and rationed until at least Thanksgiving.

I forgot that today was Halloween. With the hurricane and the marathon, my mind has been focused on other things, and I didn’t think about it until much of the day was almost over. By then I was just kind of bah-humbug about the whole holiday, and I walked home as the sun was setting with other matters on my mind. And then I turned onto my street.

Pause. Eyes lift to take in my street. Gasp.

Y’all, I almost cried. Tears literally came to my eyes, and my heart filled with joy. There it was! Here it is! On my street, what I wanted all those years ago. Cool crisp air, the smell of newly fallen leaves, kids running down the street in their costumes, adults perched on their front stoops with mugs of warm liquids or adult beverages. Everyone was smiling! No one was wearing a winter coat! Children were running from house to house, yelling trick or treat and filling their candy bags to the brim!

I can’t explain to you how magical tonight was for me. I felt like I was stepping into a movie. If Thomas Kinkade did Halloween, he would have painted my street tonight.

Inspired, I came home, threw on my only orange Halloween-themed t-shirt, put an orange shirt on Barley (we match!), and marched into the street to soak it all in. Oh it was perfection – it was perfection indeed. And even though I don’t have a little one to dress up, and I don’t have any interest in eating candy, and I forgot to buy candy for the trick-or-treaters, I feel like the holiday won this year. I forgot all about Halloween, and it jumped up and got me when I wasn’t expecting it. The joke was on me this year, and I couldn’t be happier.Very very very happy Halloween to you and yours,

Dana (and Barley!!) in DC


PS. Do you have any idea how hard it is to take a picture (using automatic timer) of a dog that HATES that orange shirt with a passion?

Outtakes below.

In which Barley looks to be the most depressed dog in the world:



In which I have clearly lost the battle, but am trying to salvage the picture by smiling. #frankenfail

In which I try bribery, and instead end up with a dog who keeps her nose in my hand to eat the treat that I have promised her after the photo shoot. #briberyfail