Halloween On A New Island

Interestingly enough, Halloween presents a challenge for many island kids, or more accurately, for many island parents. The challenge is where exactly to go trick-or-treating. Islands tend to include high percentages of second-home owners, so many of the houses, especially when Halloween falls on a weeknight, are empty. In addition, some islands have small gated communities or communities with limited access, and there tends to arise all sorts of questions about whether or not the gates will be open Halloween night and whether or not the residents will even be expecting trick-or-treaters. We’ve done a number of things over the years with the small people, including community events, business-sponsored trick-or-treats, and going over to nearby friends’ houses who live in areas that are more conducive to trick-or-treating.

This year, we were faced with the new island/new customs dilemma. I heard mixed answers from the first couple of people I spoke with about where to go, so when I was at the boys’ school yesterday, I made a general nuisance of myself and asked around. I got a couple of good suggestions that were confirmed by multiple people, so armed with that information, we donned our costumes at dinnertime and headed out.

It was good information.

Many of the houses where we went were decked out, reminding me of when we lived in Chicago and local TV stations had contests for the most decorated houses for Halloween.

So, we pounded the pavement for an hour-and-a-half or so, enjoying the Halloween ambiance and collecting candy, and then headed home to do some pumpkin carving.

LCB is our resident pumpkin carver. Typically, he picks the biggest pumpkin we have, carves and guts it, and saves the seeds to cook afterward. I have been most happy with this tacit arrangement, I must confess.

This year our pumpkins were all of similar size, so when the time came to pick the pumpkin to be carved, my younger son requested that LCB use his pumpkin (the one my son picked at the pumpkin patch) to carve. All was well until baby-girl decided, midway through LCB’s carving of the chosen pumpkin, that she wanted hers carved too.

“Mommy, can you carve my pumpkin?” she asked, with a voice that would have swayed less-tired mothers instantly.

I hesitated.

Then, out of the blue, my oldest son turned to me and said, “C’mon, Mom. You gotta make things fun for Dad, and give him some real competition. Keep it interesting.”

Where did we grow this kid?

I’m not asking rhetorically, either.

He went on to explain how his life was less full because his younger brother refused to compete with him on most things. I bit my tongue and did not speak truth in this moment, which is that his brother usually opts out of competing with him because he is, in fact, a competitive freak, a force during game time few wish to reckon with. No, I was good. Instead, I said something like, “Hghhhhhhh,” and grabbed a carving knife.

I think I lucked out in the end, because LCB, who can be freakishly competitive in his own right, was more concerned about gleaning enough seeds so that he could fry one batch and bake another for a little taste-testing. So he said little (relatively speaking, of course) and was preoccupied with the seed extraction.

My younger son proclaimed his pumpkin the winner the minute LCB finished, assuming the victory was his personally simply because it was his pumpkin. His assessment came a little premature, however, since I wasn’t even halfway done with his sister’s pumpkin.

Ignoring his brother, my older son dubbed himself the judge, reasoning that he didn’t have a dog in this fight like his two siblings. He had predetermined that his pumpkin would not be carved, but instead be the recipient of various Sharpie-facilitated messages, like the following:

His plan seemed to make sense, but I was worried he’d buckle under all that pressure of choosing between two parents pumpkins.

After I finished mine and we put them side by side out on the deck, however, with great sagacity, the judge proclaimed it a tie.

6 Comment

  1. You handled the competition with grace. Bacon Slayer and I revert to a weird sibling-style competitive banter when we do things like that together. I have no problem roasting pumpkin seeds, but I really hate to fish them out of the pumpkin guts. That is a job for the hovering kiddos that are begging for pumpkin seeds for a snack.

    1. I’m surprised, given that you are practically a chef to the stars, and you’ve gone through four rounds of diapers. Actually, my son was all grossed out too, which I gave him a hard time about since he eats his meat rare, or what I call practically raw. I feel like touching slimy seeds with my hands pales in comparison to putting meat with visible red and blood on it into one’s mouth. Yuck. LCB’s tried to convince me otherwise, with no success.

  2. Monica says: Reply

    Looks like you all had fun! You are handling all of your transitions to the “new” island life with grace. And a sense of humor. 😉
    Way to be…

    1. It felt less than graceful going through it, but thanks. We try, on good days anyway. 😉

  3. No competitions here, but the whether to go out or not was a huge debate between many of the Moms. With the snow and the fallen trees, branches, and electrical cables, some moms were worried about going out. I prefer to go out in the daylight, so I wasn’t worried about walking into a branch or wire, but the walk was tricky between branch piles and puddles on the sidewalks as the snow melted. The Cub had fun and came in with a good stash for a 5 year old. And he got another Cars 2 Car from us for a treat. So he was happy. And our jack-o-lantern glowed nicely until we blew it out and closed the door.

    Sounds like you settled in to your new location very well.

    Happy November!

    1. Yes, it’d be a shame to miss trick-or-treating with the kids all planning on it, but I bet that didn’t make it fun for the ones who went at night. That’s a good idea to include a little non-candy gift from you for The Cub, in case Halloween doesn’t turn out so well, too. Actually, we trick-or-treated not far from you last year, on a visit to relatives in the area. We hit traffic going through DC and then some construction closer to Jersey, if I’m remembering correctly, and ended up with only 30 minutes or so to trick-or-treat before too many houses started closing up for the night. We were sweating it toward the end of the drive, wondering if we’d make it in time to do any at all. Happy November to you!

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