I love Halloween because its continued non-religious success is due entirely to human kindness (and costumes). It’s a holiday in which almost everyone over the age of 16 annually agrees to invest time and money in order to show kids a good time, and that’s it. I am especially beloved of Halloween in North Dakota because it’s usually cold outside – it was briefly snowing as we were cajoling our six-year-old into a second sweatshirt under his costume this year – and that didn’t/doesn’t deter anyone or anything.
Kyle has taken to telling the kids that there’s a “Dad Tax” on any candy gathered throughout the course of the night, which he has yet to collect in 10 years of government leadership. I can’t speak to the Dad Tax (since my mouth is full of all of their unwanted Butterfingers), but I thought I’d pay the “Kindness Tax” by telling you about our kids’ first Halloween in town.
First, though, I should tell you this kind of a lie. Our kids have trick-or-treated in Grand Forks every year prior to this one because we lived out in the country and if we were going to drive from house to house one mile at a time, it seemed easier to just keep on rolling into town. Since we didn’t have an official neighborhood boundary, we’d map out a pretty rigorous route that would take us to the houses of friends, babysitters, and spooky decorations, which meant that the theme of our Halloween was the phrase, “Okay, back into the car – no, don’t take your shoes/costume/pants off, we’re getting out again!”
We now live in a neighborhood with sidewalks and houses so close that the boys can no longer pee outside. We also live in a neighborhood with other children who utilize said sidewalks and streets, and so while Kyle and I were searching under the couch for our six-year-old’s lost face mask (he’d been wearing his ghoul costume for the previous three days – including to Pride of Dakota, where he decided to forgo the mask and just wear the tattered black shroud and gloves while we shopped for barbecue sauce and felted art), the boys were making plans with their friends for optimal Halloweening.
The schedule was this: Ten would start at his friends’ neighborhood and cover a three-block radius. At the same time, Six would go door-to-door on our own street with his own friend. Ten and friends would come back and go down our block while Six and friend went to the adjoining street, and then they would all meet up to take Six to some of the spooky houses down the way (Six’s friend had to go to his Grandma’s house before it got dark). Kyle and I had decided that we would hand out candy from our own house until the boys all met up, and then we’d go with them to make sure there wasn’t any trouble (don’t trust a ten-year-old with a bag full of sugar).
As the clock chimed five, we did our best to shovel as much healthy food as we could into the boys – so three bites each – before stuffing them into their costumes. Six was the aforementioned ghoul, and Ten was a Roman centurion.
“This costume isn’t scary enough,” Ten lamented as his friend pulled down his lighted Purge-style mask.
“Tell that to all of the monks the Romans killed,” Kyle said. Ten scoffed.
The doorbell rang as Ten and friends were departing for Point A. I had purchased a bag of candy, obviously, and so I gave three little girls in Starbucks uniforms three pieces each. Two seconds later the doorbell rang again, and I realized I hadn’t thought this candy situation through well enough. We hadn’t handed out candy in over a decade – sometimes we traded treat bags with our country neighbors, but we’re talking 10 kids, not 100 – and my sad little variety pack of M&Ms and Crunch Bars wasn’t going to make it more than a half-hour.
“I have an idea,” Kyle said, pulling out a box filled with snack-pack potato chips. And by “potato chips,” I mean a highly-coveted Halloween delicacy: veggie sticks. Fortunately, the house across the street was giving out full-sized candy bars and another family down the way was handing out cotton candy, so we only brought down the neighborhood coolness factor a tiny bit.
(A side note: My sister – whose birthday was yesterday! – used to live in a part of California where most of the houses were owned by people who had three-plus other homes. She had purchased candy for a few years before realizing that there weren’t any children in the neighborhood, and had then stopped. One Halloween, however, their doorbell rang. They didn’t have any candy, of course, and so my brother-in-law pulled out a bowl of quarters they used for street parking and gave the five little kids twenty-five cents each. “Don’t tell anyone,” he said as he handed them over. “We won’t,” one boy said – and then, walking down the steps, yelled to the world, “Hey! This house is handing out money!”)
Six didn’t want us to walk him around the block, and so his friend’s parents came over and we sat on the driveway handing out veggie chips and watching the little boys march from house to house. They came back with their bags filled to the top.
“I’m done!” Six said, starting to dump out his bucket.
“Don’t you want to go over the hill?” Kyle asked.
“Yes!” he said, putting the candy back. “But then I’m done!”
All of the boys reconvened about fifteen minutes later, just as the sun was starting to set. Six was, in fact, done – he went to one house because he wanted to see their decorations up close, but after that he just sat himself down and ate cotton candy while Kyle handed out chips. I walked the Ten and friends around for another hour (and got a lot of treats, too, thank you very much to all involved), and then waited while three sugared-up boys rolled down a pitch-black hill for five solid minutes before calling it a successful year.
I’ve mentioned this before, but a few years ago Kyle and I decided to start wearing our letterman jackets (and Russell pants) as our costume. This was the best decision we’ve ever made, as it’s all very comfortable and those jackets are rad. If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen the picture above (sorry), which we took while sitting on our driveway forcing veggie chips on small children.
This week’s news has blindfolded dining, kite-flying, and a baby cow. Read on.
(Also, I watched a few hockey games with Kyle this weekend and decided to recap them. You can read those recaps here, here, and here – although the third one admittedly stinks because I was pretty tired and more focused on eating a kiwi than watching TV.)
This is the cutest story you’ll read all week: When Dickinson’s Weston Begrin had to spend his 4th birthday in quarantine, the community quickly put together a two-hour drive-by parade with police cars, fire trucks, automobiles, and a motorcycle rally. (Dickinson Press)
For the fifth year, the Minot community dined in the dark – or rather, with blindfolds – in support of the North Dakota Association for the Blind and the Minot Lions Club. (KX Net)
The Minot Zoo has a new Scottish Highland calf, named Snickers. The parents – Sully and Sage – look as happy as two cattle can look about it. (Minot Daily News)
No one celebrates the North Dakota breeze like Prairie Winds Kites group, who are looking to make their Minot festival an annual occurrence. (KFYR TV)