Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Our neighborhood back in Arlington gets a little crazy on Halloween.  People who live along the major cross street by our house go all out with their decorations, including smoke machines, animatronic figures, and sound and light effects.  So many kids come trick-or-treating along that street that many residents just sit out on their front porches with a bowl of candy and a glass of wine, and I've seen lines form in front of houses as little ghosts and goblins wait to collect their treats.  We always decorated our house as well, but since we are slightly off the main drag, our doorbell didn't ring quite as frequently, and most of the tiny visitors lived on our block.  Sometimes a neighbor would invite us over, or we'd turn off the porch light and go for a quick walk down the street to check out the scene at Halloween Central.  It was always a fun time of year with several weeks of anticipation building up to it.

So, it was a bit disappointing to see hardly any Halloween decorations in London, especially after being back in DC in mid-October and seeing all the shops and houses festooned with giant spiderwebs, dried cornstalks, and homemade ghosts.  I did see Halloween candy for sale in the supermarkets here.  In addition to the usual bags of mini candy bars, Cadbury's and other confectioners had introduced special Halloween-themed candy -- my favorite being the Cadbury Screme Egg.  It's basically a Cadbury Creme Egg, but with green goop instead of the yellow "yolk" inside the white sugary filling.

My neighbor, Anna, told me that they usually don't get many trick-or-treaters here, and that her kids don't like Halloween (too scary!), so they would be staying home.  It sounded like it might be a bit quiet, but just to be on the safe side, I bought a bag of Cadbury miniatures, and spent $4 on an imported bag of Reese's peanut butter cup miniatures at TK Maxx that I planned to keep for myself.  That's what I usually give out on Halloween, and it's the only time of year I ever eat them, so I just HAD to have some.  You can find the regular 2-cup packs of Reese's here, but they don't sell them individually wrapped in bags for Halloween. 

Saturday evening we saw several people (adults) in Halloween costumes, presumably on their way to parties, so at least we knew that SOME people celebrate Halloween here.  Of course, the Brits seem to jump at any excuse to dress up in costumes and drink (see Stag and Hen parties), so that didn't come as a big surprise.

On Sunday, I sent Josh to Sainsbury's to get a pumpkin, a candle, and another bag of candy -- just in case -- along with a few other groceries.  (Sadly, they don't have pumpkin patches in London.)  After looking for inspiration online, we decided on a not-too-scary Jack Skellington face for our jack o' lantern, which Josh reproduced masterfully.  He carved, rather than cut out, the eye holes, so they would glow without revealing the candle inside.
Jack guards the Cadbury Screme Eggs
But after the candle kept going out, we realized it wasn't getting enough oxygen, so he had to cut them out after all.  The end result was pretty impressive:
Jack sits out on the window sill to watch for trick-or-treaters
Oddly enough, we got our first trick-or-treaters on SUNDAY evening.  I was upstairs, so I missed it, but Josh obligingly dumped all 3 bags of candy into a bowl and offered it up to the kids.  I think I would have at least demanded an explanation, if not suggested that perhaps they should come back on Halloween if they wanted candy.

Josh was hoping to work from home on Monday, but he had to meet with his boss down in Farnborough, so I was on my own.  We just set our clocks back on Sunday morning, so by 5 pm it was already dark.  I lit Jack's candle, turned on the porch light, and fished some of the peanut butter cups out of the candy bowl.  The first knock on the door came at 5:30.  By 6:00, I was chiding Anna for telling me not to expect too many trick-or-treaters, as we were both outside distributing candy to huge groups of costumed children.  She was just as overwhelmed as I was, and said this was triple the number of kids that came last year.  By 6:15 I was texting Josh to see if he could pick up some more candy on his way home from work.  I put all the peanut butter cups back in the bowl, and dumped in the two small boxes of Green & Black's miniatures I had bought to give as gifts.  When those were almost gone, I filled the bowl with the clementines and apples Josh had picked up at the store.  In desperation, I turned off the porch light, but they still kept knocking at the door, so I started handing out 2p coins I grabbed from the change bowl, and then finally stuck a Post-it note on the door saying "Sorry! Out of candy."

Josh got home at 7:30 with two bags of Milky Ways and Mars bars, so I turned the light back on and tossed the Post-it.  (As an aside, I discovered that UK Milky Ways = US 3 Musketeers, and UK Mars bars = US Milky Ways.  Why?!)  Ironically, we only got 3 more kids after that, so now we have a whole bowl full of "fun size" candy that I don't particularly like, and I gave away all the good stuff.  (And we're out of fruit!)  Next year, I will be better prepared.  I might even take the trouble to put up some decorations.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What an adventure! We only got three trick-or-treaters this year, and they "cancelled" Halloween in my hometown which is still recovering from the 18 inches of snow that fell on Saturday.


To prevent spam and other inappropriate messages, all comments are moderated before being posted.