Our Great Dane Lotte loved Halloween. Even before the doorbell rang, the sounds of children running toward our house would propel her toward the door where she would sit and wait. “Oooh, that’s the house with the big dog!” the children would exclaim. I’d open the door and tiny hands would reach inside to pat Lotte’s giant head and scratch her long ears before reaching into the candy basket I extended to them. And then they’d race on to the next house and Lotte would flop down on a space on the floor until the next group approached.
I’m not doing Halloween this year because Lotte died six months ago, and I just don’t have it in me to explain mortality to little children reveling in their sugar-induced excitement. I’ll turn the lights off and hide out. (Lotte’s demise is explained in the final chapter of Great Dane in the Morning on this website.)
Rather than people hiding behind the curtains in the dark, a new method for advertising whether or not you’re dispensing candy has been offered this year by someone on our neighborhood’s online Nextdoor social network. They’ve put up a map of the neighborhood showing which homes are planning to participate. I picture kids and their parents, smart phones glowing in the dark, making their way from house to house. I’ll still be hiding, however, just in case not everyone gets the message.
When we lived in New Jersey, the nation’s most densely populated state, crowds of trick-or-treaters would come for hours, and we tried to maintain good humor about it even into the late night when older kids came, some without even a pretense of having a costume. So one year, when friends suggested we join them in dinner out on Halloween, we were tempted. “We go after 8 o’clock,” they said, “after all the cute little kids with their cute costumes have gone home to bed. Then we turn out the lights and leave.” I was skeptical. “Don’t you worry about your windows getting soaped or toilet paper being draped in your shrubbery?” I asked. “That’s what happens on Mischief Night, the night before,” they reminded me. “We’ve never had a problem.” So we tried it once and then it became a tradition: Turn off the lights, escape to a restaurant.
But I won’t be going out this year, just staying inside as far from the front door as I can in hopes of not hearing, “Oooh, that’s the house with the big dog!”
Just too sad.