Monday, October 31, 2011

October in California

We had a fun Halloween evening today, our first in our Sunnyvale home. Our good friends Ellen and Edward brought their adorable son and daughter over and we ate pizza, trick-or-treated and handed out Halloween toys to the neighborhood kids. 

Don't mess with these ninjas!
It was a beautiful evening, with perfect 75 degree weather. It seemed a little strange to trick-or-treat without the familiar crispness of a midwestern October night and without leaves crackling beneath our feet. It was also weird to set out without knowing most of the people on our street.

I wasn't sure what to expect as far as the number of trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood, so I ended up with a lot of leftover rubber skeletons, Halloween tattoos and bouncy balls. Of the kids who came to our door, all were young, well-mannered and dressed in adorable costumes, accompanied by attentive parents standing behind them. I don't think we had any trick-or-treaters older than age 10 and none who came without their parents. A few neighbors introduced themselves, which was really nice.

This year, for the first time in our family, the selection of Halloween costumes went relatively smoothly. Both boys decided to wear matching ninja costumes.

This year, there was no battle over excessively gruesome attire. And I also let go of my cheap Asian mom instincts (well, to some extent). Years ago, I bought a plush puppy toddler costume off eBay for $10. I made both boys wear it, each for three years in a row. Friends tried to talk me out of it, lest my kids think that Halloween means dressing like a dog. Whatever! I got six Halloweens out of that costume, at $1.67 a year!

This year, I again went back to eBay for my costume shopping. I found some pretty good deals and opted against the ninja costume extras. Nico complained that he needed a sword, but I convinced him that the best ninjas need only their bare hands as deadly weapons. 

Last week, we participated in other Halloween activities. Nico's school had a wonderful Halloween celebration, beginning the day with a parade and an awesome performance of fourth- and fifth-graders dancing to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" (an annual tradition), led by their gym teacher. Vic thought it would have been better still if the kids dressed up as Filipino prisoners while performing the dance. Nico was embarrassed about the routine, but I thought it was fantastic! Also, the boys joined Vic for his company's annual trick-or-treat event for kids. Vic's team dressed up as Occupy Halloween protesters, with signs that said, "Save the pumpkins! No more carving! No more tricks! Give us treats!"

Earlier in the month, we went on a pumpkin-finding mission in Half Moon Bay, where we went to a pumpkin patch with my sister Linn and her girlfriend. All of us went in the haunted house, which was a stupid idea for four-year-old Nolan, who screamed, "NO! NO! NOT AT ALL! NOT! AT! ALL!" within seconds of entering the pitch-black maze. Vic and Nico also found their way in and out of a huge cornfield maze, while Nolan and I rode on the baby train. Afterward, we went on a long family hike. 

October in California has been lovely, although I do miss autumn in Ohio - the beautiful leaves, the apple-picking, the football weekends. Halloween is the highlight of the season for me, and once it is over, I know the winter holidays are not far behind. At least in California, the weather will be nicer. It's amazing how much sunshine and fresh air can lift my spirits.

After turning off the lights and cleaning up the trick-or-treating aftermath tonight, I'm feeling a bit wistful. Another Halloween, another childhood milestone for the boys, another year drawing to a close.