My Biggest Little Shambler is Growing Up

My daughter made a grave announcement last week. With the holiest of holy holidays rapidly approaching, she had made a life decision that has rocked our family to its decayed, liquefied core.
She has decided that she is too old to go trick or treating.

I never thought this day would come. After all, it’s not as though we life-challenged actually age beyond the standard rotting and occasional loss of limb. But she has observed that the children of our breather neighbors are growing up, getting older, and are no longer dressing up and roaming the neighborhood in search of the Holy Grail (the one house that hands out full-sized candy bars; we know it exists.) And my daughter has decided that she will emulate them and stay home this year.

It’s nice in a way, because I no longer have to worry about coming up with a costume for her. Not that any of my children need costumes to scare people; my youngest throws his eyes at people for fun, and during the Halloween season he throws his whole face. But they like to emulate the other kids in the neighborhood, so that means costumes, even if it’s just a cheap ten-dollar hood and mask. My kids have a knack for making the most banal costume look new and interesting. Older Son’s zombie clownfish costume from the year he watched Finding Nemo is still my favorite.

But now my daughter doesn’t need a costume anymore, which eases one concern but raises others. How to make Halloween special without the standard candy-gathering ritual? This is the highest of holy days in our family; watching TV and handing out candy to strangers is no way to spend it. So I’ve come up with a few ideas of my own. These are some safe and fun activities for young shamblers who are too old for trick or treating but too young for turning off the porch lights and hiding behind the couch when the doorbell rings.

Volunteer activities. Local libraries often welcome strangers and young adults to come read to the children. There are a lot of fun children’s stories that are perfect for Halloween, like “That’s Not Your Mommy Anymore” and “Mommy, Why Did You Shoot Daddy in the Head?” Such lighthearted fare is sure to please the little ones at this special time of year.
There are other places to volunteer as well, such as the hospital or the nursing home. One year my husband visited our nursing home dressed as the Grim Reaper, but he wasn’t invited back. We think it was his choice of reading material. Apparently even people with dementia can’t handle sparkly vampires.

Host a party. This is not an activity for the faint of heart. In addition to the standard mess and damage that a houseful of teenagers are capable of, there’s always the chance that the party will be crashed by drunk breathers looking for free eats. On the upside, it has saved me from many an emergency trip to the store for more munchies, but on the downside, the shag carpet in our activity room will never be the same.

Decorate a house or local business. This one is probably my favorite. One year I helped decorate the local sports center for their annual Halloween shindig, and it was great fun. Nobody could get over how realistic the blood was, and not one person guessed at my secret ingredient.

When you mix the red food coloring with clear corn syrup, add just a drop or two of blue. It makes the blood darker and more menacing. You can also mix in bits of cotton if you want it to clot.
Happy Halloween to all, and to all a good bite!

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