We don’t celebrate Halloween in Serbia, but I knew all about it as I screamed every time Mike Myers’ face hidden behind the hockey mask appeared on the screen in the movie theater in my home town. I arrived to the U.S. in August, and three months later I couldn’t wait to participate in my first trick-or-treating. It was an adventure, as it involved a trip to Chicago on an old VW bus, a detour to the “mushroom place” (no, I am not talking about a patch in the meadow where the wild mushrooms dwell), countless bottles of booze, and, to me, an unfamiliar concept of bar-hopping. In fact, I felt as if I were crashing a party, and spent most of the time with my mouth agape, trying to figure out what had happened to me and who was directing the movie that I was starring in.
In the following years I attended some pretty tame and some not-that-tame Halloween parties, and when I had my first daughter, I was relieved to pass on the tradition to her and stay in the background, my role limited to concocting a creative costume and pushing the stroller. When my younger two were ready to go out and try their luck at trick-or-treating, I was full of energy and enthusiasm. I would anticipate this time of year with never-ending excitement, knowing that I’d spend many delightful hours discussing the costumes, both for school and for after-dark (as they could never be the same), gathering the necessary material, making the costumes, and buying the additional props.
Year after year I concocted creative home-made Halloween treats and took them to school. I snapped some great photos of my pumpkins, nurses, Draculas, butterflies, ladybugs, and mummies at more than a dozen Halloween school parades, and prodded them up one more driveway when they were whining about being exhausted fifteen minutes after we started the yearly ritual of extorting candy from the neighbors.
While we pulled the Radio Flyer Red Wagon with two bundled-up girls crying in harmony, I longingly stared at the adults gathered around the fire pits, cocktails in hand, a plastic cauldron full of candy next to the chair leg, spooky sounds coming from the porches, wishing that I could join them, rather than trying to convince my two ingrates to make a go of the last house on the block and collect more sweets that would sit on the kitchen counter for months.
My oldest dresses up every year and attends parties that I really don’t want to know about. She is creative and funny, and I cannot wait for her to post photos to her Facebook page. My teens require only a little bit of my help with their costumes and no help with trick-or-treating, and I am more than happy to send them off to frolic with their shrieking friends. Some years I join my friends around the fire pit; I drink wine and pass out candy, grateful that I don’t have to be a Halloween Nazi ever again and pretty confident that all the Mounds bars the teens collect will be mine.