My feelings about Halloween, as a bereaved childless parent, have been complicated. Unlike some bereaved parents/childless-not-by-choicers, I have never wanted to opt out of Halloween completely -- turn the lights out & hide, or spend the night at the movies. I've always enjoyed carving a pumpkin and setting it out on our doorstep on Halloween night, and handing out candy to adorable little trick-or-treaters.
(Which is not to say I haven't felt some pangs or closed the door with tears in my eyes over the past 18 years.)
At the same time, while I did set out the pumpkin & put up a Halloween-themed wreath on the door & cut-outs in the windows facing the street, we never went all out with the decorations, as some of our neighbours did. I just didn't have the energy (or the desire, to be honest). Which only added to my guilt -- clearly, I was not cut out to be a suburban mom, right? (Although I am sure that, had we had children, I would have made more of an effort to be more festive for their sakes.) And while I loved dressing up as a kid, and during my student days for our annual Halloween parties, as an adult, it's always seemed like more of a chore than anything else to think up, shop for and put together a costume. I haven't done it in years.
Halloween was very different for us this year. As I said, I've never wanted to avoid Halloween -- but living in a condo makes it an entirely different experience than we had at our house. Security doors, plus bylaws against solicitation and holiday decorations on doors and balconies, plus the absence of all but a very few children living in our building, meant no decorations, no trick-or-treaters knocking at our doors. (By now at the house, most of our trick-or-treaters would have come & gone, so I think I can feel safe in typing that, lol.) We did buy a box of treats to have on hand, just in case, but it looks like we're going to be eating it all ourselves. (Oh, the horror!! Right?? lol )
I suppose we could have carved a pumpkin this year, if only for our own enjoyment. But dh has never been keen on the whole pumpkin thing -- he only went along with it to humour me -- and I insisted on it because, tradition!! & how else could we signal to the trick-or-treaters that we were open for business?? This year, even I had to agree it was pretty pointless. I do have a fake pumpkin that lights up inside, but I lacked the energy & motivation to dig through our storage locker in the parking garage to find it. :p
It was a very strange day.
In past years, at least, we had a bit of a presence on the periphery of all the Halloween hoopla. This year, I felt totally apart/shut out from everything -- nose pressed against the glass, watching from a distance as life went merrily on without me, oblivious to my presence, while Facebook & Instagram paraded an endless stream of fun photos & reports from my friends & relatives. What was once a special occasion, a date to be circled on the calendar & to be planned and prepared for (candy & pumpkin to buy, decorations to haul up from the basement) -- a link to my own childhood, a fingerhold in the life that might have been mine as a parent, something I could participate in along with the rest of the world -- has now become just another day. It's harder, in a way, to be watching completely from the sidelines, at a distance, than it was to be handing out candy to little trick-or-treaters and seeing in them and their proud parents the life that might have been mine with our daughter.
My hope is that, in a few years' time, we'll have some great-nieces and nephews, and that their parents will bring them over so we can ooh & ahhh over their costumes and shower them with treats. :) (Or invite us over to see them before they head out for trick-or-treating.)
Until then, I'll be the one watching from the sidelines, stuffing my face with chocolate, and living vicariously through other people's social media posts.