Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

Halloween is for Neighbors

Lindsey SmallwoodComment

We have an important tradition for Halloween - we like to celebrate right where we live! 

I never cared too much about Halloween growing up.

I’m mean sure – actually getting candy from strangers is great and all, but it was not something I looked forward to the same way I did Christmas or my birthday or even Valentine’s Day with it’s sentimentality and pink hearts. Maybe it was that I never had great ideas about costumes – or the fact that growing up in Alaska meant that we had to wear our snow suits over our costumes to survive the frigid temperatures on October 31. Or perhaps it was the conservative climate in our church that bespoke of Halloween’s evil ties and warned of demonic influence. Even in college, when I used Halloween as an excuse to wear cute clothes and go to parties with friends, it was just never a day on my favorites list.

Until I got married. Or, more accurately, until we moved into the little cottage my husband and I shared in the early years of our marriage.

We lived on an eclectic block in Berkeley, our neighbors included a lawyer, a jazz musician, the CEO of a tech start-up, a cartographer, and a labor and delivery nurse. All of us were watched over by the “mayors” of our block – the elderly couple in the large house behind ours. He was a yoga instructor and football coach, she held a PhD in dream interpretation. For real.

That first year in our new place, these neighbors invited us to their Halloween party. Chris and I decided to go as puns – him in an orange shirt with the “pi” symbol on it (pumpkin pie!) and me with pom poms and a shirt that read “Go Ceilings!” (a ceiling fan, obviously!)

I know, right? Sweet little nerds, we are.

The party was an unexpected delight, chatting with neighbors over a meal of eyeballs (grapes), fingers (hot dogs), intestines (pasta) and other scary dishes. We sang “Halloween Carols” and laughed our way through the evening.

In the years that followed we started a Halloween tradition of sorts: spending time with our neighbors. Carving pumpkins with the folks across the street from us, passing out candy to well-costumed neighborhood kids, sitting in lawn chairs with the guy next door as we enjoyed the baseball playoffs on the radio and the glow of the jack-o-lanterns.

At least for us, Christmas is for family, Valentine’s is for lovers, the 4th of July is for BBQs and fireworks with friends. But ever since that first neighborhood night out on All Hallows Eve, Halloween is now for neighbors, for memories made on front porches and under street lights, stories told around hot drinks and candle lit carved pumpkins. This year it’ll include a neighborhood kid’s parade and shared dinner with the people next door.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In case you’re interested, here’s a favorite “Halloween Carol”…

Pumpkin Bells
(to the tune of Jingle Bells)

Dashing through the streets
in our costumes bright and gay
To each house we go laughing all the way
Halloween is here, making spirits bright
What fun it is to trick-or-treat
And sing pumpkin carols tonight!

Oh Pumpkin bells, Pumpkin bells
Ringing loud and clear
Oh what fun the great pumpkin brings
When Halloween is here

To find more, google “Halloween Carols.”


This post originally appeared at Middle Places.