No More Magic.

We moved into this house 22 years ago.  I had a beautiful little girl, and was pregnant once again.  The house seemed like a castle to us, after many years of wishing for a place of our own.  The yard was wild, but we put up a swingset, and I planted a few shrubs and flowers.  The neighbors were friendly, and there were a bunch of kids on the street. We settled in, we made friends, our family and our friendships both grew.

Halloween out here was wonderful. For years, Halloween was absolutely wonderful.

We used to buy a big pumpkin at the orchard nearby, and we’d carve it together, the kids and I.  Katie would design the face, and Tim would plunge his chubby little hands inside and scream with glee as he pulled out the “guts”.  Matt, who never liked the mess or the chaos of the holidays, would sit nearby, watching and commenting, but never taking part. We’d roast the seeds, put in a candle, and sit watching the scary, lopsided face of our Jack-o’lantern as he grinned through the big bay window.

I remember the sweet pie smell of the burning pumpkin top, the taste of the always burned seeds.  I remember the magic in the eyes of my children.

On the big night, as Trick or Treat approached, Kate would adorn herself in swaths of pink and gold, Tim would be wrapped in crepe paper or painted white or shaped into a ghoul.  Matt would put on one of his Dad’s old jackets and call himself “a guy”.  We would grab plastic pumpkins, glowsticks and flashlights and out we would go.

Our neighborhood is very rural, and very spread out.  To visit every house took at least two hours.  The streets would be filled with children, laughing parents, strollers and excited dogs, pulling on leashes.  The neighborhood was young, and happy and we all had a sense of looking to the future.

I remember the piles of candy, and the trading that would take place when we came home. One pack of “Sweeties” for one of “Reeses Pieces”. A “Mounds” for a “Snickers”.

I remember the warm baths to wash off the makeup, and the joyful recounting of every moment, as if I hadn’t been right there beside them.  I remember how happy I was to be a part of it all.

And I remember the night closing in, and the safe, warm feeling of pulling the curtains closed when all of the festivities were over.

I remember.  And I am sad.

When the economy collapsed, our town was badly hit.  We are a working class community, with very little industry to employ us.  Homes were bought and sold, and homes were filled with families.

When the economy collapsed, jobs were lost, mortgages were overwhelming, and homes were lost or abandoned.  Our neighborhood has emptied, and the children are all either grown up or moved away.

For the past three Halloweens, we have had no one come to our door.

For the past three Halloweens, I have carved a pumpkin by myself, in honor of children everywhere. I have filled a bowl with candy, and waited patiently in my kitchen for the front doorbell to ring.  No one came.

This year, I am more realistic.  The house on our left is filled with a couple our age; their sons have grown up and moved away.  The one across the street?  The same.  To our right are two houses which have been abandoned. Perhaps foreclosed on, perhaps simply too much to be maintained.  Both are empty.  Both are dark.  One has been vandalized, and the gaping slider door on its deck lets in both rain and wind.  It used to house our friends, and looking at it every day is a new heartbreak.

Our neighborhood is empty of children now.  There are no big orange pumpkin bags filled with fall leaves. No Jack-o’lanterns on steps.  No costumes, no candy. No magic.

I miss Halloween.  I do. I have put out a bowl of candy corn, but there is no one to eat it.  I have put up a little ghost candle, but I keep forgetting to light it.

There is a candle in there, but it isn’t lit.

I really miss the magic.


28 thoughts on “No More Magic.

  1. Well, you are spreading your magic all over the world now. I was telling my spin class today about your cookies and soup made for the storm (and my kidney beans). So now there are a small group of middle aged, overweight, sweaty women in my town filling their pantries with something good to eat just in case they have to weather a storm. I find that sort of magical . . . .

    I don’t miss the trick or treat-ers or the Halloween parades or the costumes or any of that, but I do miss bath time and bedtime stories.

    So how did you weather the storm?


    • Oh, man…thank you! Blogging is truly the best therapy for just about everything! I love the idea of other women talking about my cooking craziness…..
      We did fine; very little damage out here, thankfully. Our power even stayed on the whole time.
      You’re nowhere near this mess, right?


  2. We are at opposite ends of the spectrum. I bought $150 worth of candy today and am worried I won’t have enough. We get hundreds and hundreds of trick or treaters every year. It’s non-stop all evening. I have a chair and a book by the front door, but I never get to sit down.


  3. I can identify with your post. For a few years now we haven’t had kids come around. I think it is so sad. This year though I’m changing it. I AM GOING OUT GUISING (that’s what it’s called in Scotland). Spencer and I are dressing up as Laurel and Hardy (we couldn’t do scary because we are also going to call into my mother in law’s care home. In Scotland you have to sing for your sweet/candy, so we’re doing our rendition of ‘On the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia’

    We won’t be this good but hey we’ll have a blast.

    So lovely lady, why don’t you dress up this year, eat all the candy and sing a song? Heck if kids arrive then just think how impressed they will be.


    • Sounds just wonderful, my friend!
      I was lucky enough to spend the day dressed as a witch (“Type casting”, I tell the kids) and surrounded by my fabulous students. We danced, we sang, we ate too much.
      If I go home and dress up, it will only be the doggies there to see me, truly. Its OK. Just makes me nostalgic!


  4. Beautifully written. Because of where our house sits in our neighborhood we have never gotten trick or treaters here. One of the things I am looking forward to about moving is the possibility that next year I will finally get to hand out candy again. This year I just bought a bag for my “to old to go any more” kids. It is kind of sad….isn’t it?


  5. Momsheib: This is exquisitely written. I held my breath all the way through it, and I didn’t exhale until the end and only then very slowly. It was pitch perfect. What an incredible way to tell the story of a town fallen on hard times through the view finder of Halloween. Superb!


  6. I know exactly how you feel. I grew up in a small community in my grandparents/parents home, and raised my son there. Everyone knew everybody and Halloween was celebrated by the whole town. Because I was a puppeteer, all the kids loved my home, where a cookie monster or some other exciting surprise would hand out the treats. When my grandson came along, it was my son’s turn to take over the home, and I moved to a suburb of Dallas, where no one knew anyone, and no one wanted to. Retired, I’ve participated in every community group and committee that came along, but no one in this community seems to care. All the kids know me and my handi-dog, but the adults don’t let them “do” Halloween.

    I miss it too…


    • Wow, what a story! I love the idea of puppets on Halloween!
      I don’t know if I’m just being ridiculously nostalgic, but I miss the past.
      does this make me an official “old fart”?


  7. How I wish I had read this before Trick or Treat, as I certainly would have brought my children to your house. A whole bowl of candy! WOO HOO, that’s the mother load! And I would have gotten to see you. Win Win, next year, light that candle to guide us up your front walk.


    • I almost called you, I swear! But then I just felt pathetic; Jon McGarry was going to bring his boys here, too, after reading my little whiny post. Next year, for sure!
      Even if we don’t have the kids; we can dress up and eat chocolate together!


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