We certainly never bought costumes. To invest in something, just to get free candy, that didn’t make any sense, my mother explained. So each year, we dressed as a shabbier version of ourselves. Maybe it was all a test. To go throughout our neighborhood. Knock on each door. Stand there, presenting the worst version of ourselves, hands reaching out, while they guessed who you were. They always knew. We knew everyone. Even in the early darkness of late October, we knew. We knew by the laughter. The screams. How fast we ran. How slow. We were one. All saints and sinners. And even with all this knowledge, we still asked the question, “Trick or Treat?” Because on this one night of the year, perhaps the only night, we were certain of the answer. We were certain of the sound the candy made as it dropped to the bottom of our paper sack.
France has made attempts at Halloween. The retailers put out a little bit of candy. We’ve even carved a pumpkin or two, never on the 31st, but the closest day of the weekend. But it’s never really caught on. It doesn’t have the history.
I brought back a sack of Halloween candy from the US. I gave it to the kids after explaining they had to say “Trick or Treat?” I didn’t know how to tell them that it was about so much more. It was neighborhoods and trust. Swinging open doors. It was the presentation of ourselves at our worst, and the acceptance given freely, joyfully (ourselves at our best.)
Of course they loved the candy. And somewhere in the sugar rush, past the open doors of our salon — open to a yard that became an afternoon baseball field, played with rules disguised as fun, I hope they felt it, this spirit of acceptance, this spirit of freedom, of joy! I believe they did. So this will be our tradition. This knowing. This certainty. Any day of the year.