To be fair, we were warned. By many people, on many different occasions. "It's something you have to see to believe" they told us. Like the horrific excitement of the roller coaster's first big drop, or the feel of little puppy teeth chewing on your finger - some things, most things in life, you just can't fully comprehend until you experience them for yourself. And so it was with Halloween in The Woodlands.
To ready ourselves, we purchased candy for the abundance of trick-or-treaters we anticipated, based on the aforementioned warnings. We adorned the gate at the entrance to our driveway with a big happy-faced ghost and a giant scary spider with flexible legs to frighten off the black spitting cobras. We did not go all out on decorations as we have done in previous years in Round Rock, because most of the holiday stuff is packed in poorly labeled boxes in the closet under the stairs, and frankly, we just didn't have the energy for a full-scale search. But we did go all out on the candy - ridiculously all out, we thought - having bought easily 5X the amount we typically purchase in the U.S.
As the sun was setting on the big night, Greg and I donned the costumes that have become standard for us: he was Charlie Brown (perfect for that big bald pate) and I was a witch (also perfect, perhaps). Alec dressed himself as a "Dark Knight" and Cameron was a "Speed Ninja." There was great excitement in the air, because Halloween is a night of unusual indulgence in our house. Many of you may think me terribly mean, but I only allow candy consumption one night per year. Chinese New Year and its tradition of chocolate coin consumption have thrown me off my game a bit, but I am steadfast for the most part. This ban has worked well for me thus far, and has prevented even one tantrum at the grocery check-out line over the bastardly placement of sweets at little-person eye level; and it has, I think, contributed to the celebrated absence of cavities to date. To offset the grand scope of my prohibition, on this one night, Halloween only, I allowed my sugar-deprived children to eat as much candy as they can stomach without throwing up. They know and accept that it will all be gone in the morning (Greg's co-workers are the happy beneficiaries of my Draconian sugar laws each year).
Then it was time. At 6:00 p.m., on the dot, when we our doorbell first rang, the boys began handing out candy at a rate of two pieces per costumed beggar (apart from a few fistfuls at the beginning, when they were still excited about the novelty of handing out, rather than shoving in, the normally forbidden fare). One hour later, it was all gone. 1,556 pieces of candy that we purchased (yes I counted), and three additional bags that thoughtful parents who were bussed in from downtown gave us to replenish our supplies. Our street was so completely filled with trick-or-treaters that it was difficult to pass through the crowd. The poor parents driving home late from work were out of luck, and had to park at the school and walk home.
After the sugar stash was gone (before it was even dark!), we ventured out onto the main Woodlands thoroughfare and encountered an even larger crowd. For those of you who have braved Sixth Street in Austin on Halloween, it was kind of like that, in terms of crowd density, albeit on a much smaller scale (and with much smaller people). Except that everyone was very well behaved and fully dressed. And when it was all over, the streets were just as clean as they had been before it all started. The only down-side was that someone absconded with our big creepy spider, so our decorations were cut in half.
When their plastic pumpkins were filled, the boys and one of their best school friends who joined us for the trick-or-treating portion of the evening returned home for some pizza as they rifled through their haul, most of which was curiously yogurt-based (explaining the delight of so many of the children when we handed out chocolate kisses). After carefully reviewing all of their options, my sweet little boys, the boys who obsessively save every non-Chinese New Year piece of candy they receive during the year (a lot - seriously - does anyone other than me object to the prevalence of candy in our lives?), and set it safely aside so they can eat it all at Halloween, these little boys consumed one lollipop and a handful of M&Ms between them. Bless their little hearts. I was very proud.
All in all, it was quite an experience. Next year, I guess we'll have to double the Halloween budget, so we can make it at least two hours before we have to give the international no-more-candy sign of turning off the porch light. Maybe those yogurt things have a long shelf-life; we sure have a lot left over...
Shannon et al.
Cameron & Alec
our street early in the evening...