The Halloweens That Weren’t

Julie Buckley essays

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Halloween has always been a favorite holiday in my family. For the kids, obviously, it’s fun to dress up as favorite characters, wander the neighborhood, and collect huge amounts of candy. It’s festive and special for them, and yet it doesn’t create tremendous stress for me as a parent. Get them the costume they want, decorate a bit, carve a pumpkin, and the rest is pure enjoyment. I love helping with classroom parties, taking children trick-or-treating, getting those cute photos, and maybe helping to get rid of some of the sweets. I think, though, that Halloween is a bit extra special to me because of the ones I kind of missed out on.

In 2003, when my older daughters were 10 and 6, my husband and I were across the world in Russia on an adoption trip for their little brother. Already missing the girls like crazy, I was particularly sad to be absent for a holiday. My best friend was watching the girls for me.  She made sure to bring them trick-or-treating and snapped lots of great pictures. They definitely celebrated. When I got home (without their little brother; this was trip one out of two), there were adorable decorations everywhere and I got to ooh and aah over their crafts, stories, and yummies. It was nice for them, but I missed being there in person.

In 2012, I was a mom of four but only one little one, and Super Storm Sandy hit our area hard. We were lucky to have been spared any significant damage, but Halloween was, for all intents and purposes, canceled. My 3-year-old’s preschool was closed for several days, so she missed the first Halloween party that would have meant anything to her. The mayor prohibited trick-or-treating on the actual day. We didn’t have power, and there were downed lines and branches all around. I admit I was rebellious and did take my little girl and her big brother carefully down the street to a few houses that looked okay. We came home to our cold house after trying to make the best of it.

With most things, we tend to treasure that which we have learned we cannot take for granted. The two Halloweens that I missed are the ones that stand out most in my memory, and they motivate me to fully appreciate that special fall day when I can.

This year, I can’t wait to see my Claire all decked out as a cowgirl for the second year in a row. It will be adorable to see her kindergarten class in costume and having fun. In the evening, we’ll order in a pizza, roast some pumpkin seeds, and rifle through her loot together when we come back from trick-or-treating. For a “scary” day, Halloween has lots of cozy, comforting fun that I plan to savor.



About the Author

Julie Buckley

Julie is a part-time English instructor and a full-time mom of four. She lives on Long Island with her family and cats, and you can follow her . Her essays have been featured on Mamalode and Scary Mommy.

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