Every year for the last several years, I've taken the kids to my dad's place, a more secluded cabin-esque place in the woods. No trick-or-treaters and we have been able to comfortably hide out, and get some extra family time as well.
But this year, Lola's older and Millie has been Halloween-obsessed for the last four weeks.
There would be no hiding this year.
And so today, I bought the bags of candy, I set out the pumpkins, I turned on the porch lights.
Ray took the girls to a dozen or so houses, to go trick-or-treating, to have the experience without taking it too far. The weather wasn't so great, a light mist/drizzle and I wasn't in the peppiest of moods so I stayed home to answer the door and to tend to the dog.
The first of batch of kids came about 5:30 p.m., a collection of younger boys, probably just a year younger than Lola, wearing various dark-colored costumes I did not immediately recognize.
I could see them through the screen door, each of happily, patiently waiting on the front steps.
Mustang started yapping almost immediately, so I scooped him up in one arm and then lifted the bin of Smarties and Dum-Dums with my other, resting it on my left hip as I tried to juggle both while opening the door.
The first boy's eyes widened as I opened the door.
"Your house is so nice!" he exclaimed.
"Thanks," I said
"It smells like cotton candy." He smiled at me.
I gave him, and his friends, small handfuls of candy as they all gathered to peer in the window.
They couldn't see much of the inside of my house, always picked up but rarely clean. The laminate floors in desperate need of sweeping, the rug in need of vacuuming. They didn't see where the stupid Dachshund pooed the night before, unable to get his skinny little butt outside in time.
But from their vantage point they must have seen something I couldn't see.
"Are you rich?" the boy asked.
"No, we're not rich," I replied.
We exchanged one last look as the boy turned to leave.
After they left, I returned to the couch and un-paused the DVR to pick up on whatever House Hunters was playing before. I considered our own un-vaulted ceilings and the non-stainless steel appliances, the aging windows that really should be replaced, the popcorn ceilings we've dreamt of scraping off.
No, we're not rich.
About that time, Ray and the girls came through the door. The girls wearing costumes we had no difficulty purchasing. The Arby's we opted to buy because we were too "busy" (read: lazy) to cook. We turned the big-screen TV more pointedly toward us as we sat down to watch the Vikings game.
Rich is relative. And thanks to a seemingly 7-year-old boy I felt a bit well off.
We all had a little spring in our step for the next couple of hours, as we greeted a couple dozen kids and handed out handfuls of candy. Eventually, the girls took over and giddily welcomed the kids themselves. Wearing PJs and flying on sugar highs, they stood at the screen door, hollering out at each other with every new arrival.
"Your turn!" Lola would cry.
"Happy Halloween," Millie would yell out, never at the right moment.
"Trick or treat," she would say to the trick-or-treaters, not understanding why they'd look at her with confusion, unaware she'd stolen their line.
Later, after the girls were tucked into their beds for the night, we eventually shut down the porch light, closed the door, and pulled tight the curtains.
"I'm glad we stayed home and handed out candy," Ray said.
"Me too," I said.