The only downside to being born on or near a holiday is that it can
overwhelm the birthday. I have a friend whose son was born on the
Fourth of July. My friend told his son the city was so happy to
have him in the world that it set off fireworks to celebrate. I
thought about doing something similar, but it just didn't seem the
same to suggest that the city celebrated Sam's birth by unleashing
ghosts and goblins on the streets. We borrowed the spirit of the
idea, though, and tried to make Halloween our own, an attempt to
let the holiday enhance, rather than detract from, his
And so there was Jessica, year after year, in the living room,
stooped over a black plastic cauldron of bubbling fruit punch, the
steam of dry ice rising into the darkened room while screams and
moans from the tape recorder punctuated the night.
As they grew, Sam and his friends went from being intrigued and
even a little scared by the sight and sounds of our house, to being
excited by it to eventually becoming nonchalant, almost comforted
by a tradition they had come to anticipate. But all that has
For his first Halloween, Sam was a fireman. We have a picture of
him, grinning broadly under a hat that was almost bigger than he
was. Over the years, he was a pirate, a vampire, a devil, and
Groucho Marx, all of the costumes homemade (save for the Groucho
glasses). Last year, at 13, he was nothing so much as himself. He
went as something, I think. I don't remember. It wasn't a pirate,
though, or a fireman.
He left with friends and they went off on their own, no parents.
There is nothing cute about opening the door and seeing a gaggle of
teenagers on your front step. It is, however, in the spirit of
Halloween, for it could be argued that for homeowners, there is
nothing more terrifying than opening the door and seeing a bunch of
teenagers on the doorstep.