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Amanda Lamb: Empty Halloween nest

Posted October 25, 2015

It’s finally happened. For the first time since 2000 when my older daughter was born, we will not be trick-or-treating with our children this year. Both girls are going to Halloween parties. My teenager may or may not trick-or-treat; my younger one will trick-or-treat with her friends in a different neighborhood.

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. As a young married couple, my husband and I put a great deal of thought into our costumes for my close friend’s annual Halloween bash. We were Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf one year. Another year, we were High Hefner and a lady friend. You get the picture.

When my kids came along, I approached their Halloween costumes with just as much vigor. The first year my 9-month-old daughter wore tiny scrubs and a stethoscope and went as a doctor. Clearly, the candy was all ours to keep since she was too young to enjoy it.

Over the years, there were many elaborate store-bought costumes thanks to their grandmother, followed by my more homemade ones as they got older and more creative. Some of the highlights over the years: Pea in a pod, Wonder Woman, Hannah Montana, Dorothy, good angel, dark angel, Harry Potter, a mermaid, the Statue of Liberty…

And it wasn’t just about the costumes. Our entire neighborhood has gathered for 15 years, flashlights in hands, pulling wagons, carrying pillow cases full of candy, fathers blocking traffic on the main road in our neighborhood so kids could cross safely. We have always ended our trick-or-treating with an old fashioned block party, often sitting around a fire pit visiting and eating candy.

So, this year is definitely a turning point for me in my parenting journey. Thankfully, my father is visiting from Pennsylvania and we have a fun adult night planned, but I can’t help thinking this is a milestone year, the end of an era. I picture a little sticky, cold hand cocooned in mine, her chocolate-smeared, tired little face, eyes wrapped in dark liner, pleading with me to do just one more house. I imagine sitting on the floor and dumping out the candy to examine it. Looking for razor blades? I’m not sure. It’s just what my parents did, so I did it too. I imagine the tiny cherubic faces of tired witches and angels, hair stiff with hair spray, faces still smudged with makeup smashed into their pillows having crashed from a sugar high.

Yes, this year will be a different kind of Halloween for sure. Maybe my husband and I will eventually resume our pre-child traditions. I’m thinking Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Now that’s a recipe for a night full of fireworks …

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.

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  • Erika Phipps Oct 26, 2015
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    Amanda, in the coming years insist that your house be the first one your grandchildren visit, on their first trick-or-treat. THAT will make the "empty nest" waiting in between worth it! ;-)