I was born in Maine where trick-or-treating required eight layers of clothing, and the climate in Northern Ireland where I was raised required the same attire. In Florida, everything changed. Trick-or-treating in 90-degree weather is not fun, and I was forced to break the heart of my Elmo-loving toddler who desperately wanted to wear the costume of his favorite fuzzy, red friend.
Instead, I had to improvise with a diaper, a wild wig, and a scrap of leopard material – instant Tarzan. Now that we live in Tennessee, I couldn’t be happier with the changing seasons and ability to wear real costumes without suffering from heatstroke as a result.
Prior to coming to Tennessee, I had never heard of a trunk-or-treat and our Halloween festivities were limited to roaming busy streets in the dark. Having recently undergone brain surgery prior to our move, I remember sitting at a local football game in a post-surgical haze. I recall some folks discussing how chilly it was going to be at the Trunk or Treat, and how I’d best not forget to bring my toboggan.
I remember the feeling of panic, thinking that I was suffering from some serious post-surgical issues, thoroughly confused as to the meaning of the term “trunk” and not sure why I was being told to bring my six- foot-wooden sled to the festivities.
Thankfully, a sympathetic soul explained the trunk-or-treat process while pointing to her toboggan, but not after ridiculing me in front of everyone for my “sled” comment.
I was fascinated, and have quickly adopted this custom into my own family Halloween celebrations. To a family with five children, the trunk-or-treat phenomenon is fantastic. Keeping track of five kids on Halloween night is tricky enough, but throw them on a dark street filled with hundreds of other short people, and it turns into absolute chaos.
Glow sticks are useless, one child screams in terror at some spooky decorations, another runs in front of oncoming traffic, and a third loses a shoe in some bushes. It puts a strain on my adoration of Halloween.
Trunk-or-treats provide a safe environment for our kids, and most importantly of all for me, there is order, a system, and structure. That makes my Type A personality very happy.
This year, I was saddened because my diaper-clad Tarzan is now far too mature to participate in the joys of Halloween. Time is passing much too quickly, so I plan on enjoying my last few years of fun with my remaining costume participants.
In my travels over the years, I have been able to experience different aspects of Halloween. Turnip carving in Ireland was a failure, and the sweltering heat and melted Hershey bars in Florida did nothing for me. However, the trunk or treat is an act of pure genius, and although seven years have gone by, I still giggle every time I put on my knitted hat as I walk out the door.