A call from the superintendent’s office woke me at 5 a.m. today to say that our school district was closed again due to downed trees and wires. At 6 p.m., I read an email reporting that Cynwyd Elementary would also be shuttered tomorrow.
I’m grateful that a weeklong academic hiatus is all we’re suffering post superstorm Sandy, when so many other communities have been decimated. But I must confess that we’ve been feeling a touch of cabin fever.
Thank heavens for Halloween.
Although the holiday fell during a crisis and posed physical hazards for many communities, it also served as a psychological salve by lightening the mood, at least in my neighborhood.
After several days of no school and being cooped up, my three children were jonesing to trick-or-treat. When I opened my email at 4 p.m. on Halloween to learn that township officials had postponed the holiday because of safety concerns, my kids were already in their costumes. I knew that if I didn’t get my rabid crew out to haunt the streets, I’d have a pack of real monsters on my hands.
Luckily, our new neighbors shared our sentiment and arrived at 5:45 p.m. ready to go. I don’t yet know these friends very well, but I was smitten with the mother who appeared, giggling and bewigged, as a “Real Housewife of New Jersey.” She joined one Iron Man, one tiger, two pirate wenches and one butterfly/fairy – a fluid costume that shifted with my 2-year-old’s whimsy.
Unlike past Halloweens, when some of our neighbors have darkened their homes, this year most windows billowed with light. Many people beamed at our children begging for candy. One woman even distributed double helpings of regular-size Snickers bars.
I’ll admit I was worried that my daughter’s kindergarten teacher would scold us for flaunting the township’s Halloween ban. But her teenagers came to the door dressed as superheros, and she handed out fistfuls of treats. Perhaps even teachers were feeling desperate to see children – and normalcy – after this “Frankenstorm.”
“Is it open?” Jane, 2, asked at each new house. “‘Nother one?” she asked as we paraded to the next. I finally caught on that Jane was unwrapping candy as soon as she collected it and worked hard to coax her Hershey’s bars into her bag instead of her mouth.
Later at home, our kids sat at the kitchen table, admiring their bounty and discussing the night.
“I like Halloween,” my 5-year-old daughter said. “But I like Easter, too, because of the baskets.”
“When’s Christmas?” her twin brother asked.
“My pumpkin bag is full!” Jane exclaimed, high on Junior Mints.
I didn’t even bother wiping the streak of chocolate from her cheek when I kissed her goodnight.
And then, miraculously, as I sat composing this, the phone rang with a recorded message that school is open tomorrow, after all. Now that, my friends, is pure Almond Joy.