A Napa Valley Halloween — Without the Wine Traveler
The candy companies hadn’t figured out “minis” yet. And the idea of razor blades in candy apples or spiked popcorn balls were Halloween tales kids told each other just to mess with each other. It didn’t happen.
It all added up to big candy bars (parents would buy as many big, fat Butterfingers, Hersheys or Baby Ruths as they thought they’d have kids come to the door). Or the kids would get candy apples, popcorn balls, cookies and homemade fudge. We needed a god damned pillowcase to lug around the loot by the end of the night. It was awesome.
When I got into my late teens and early twenties, Halloween turned into party time. And I was good at it. I rented halls, kegs and spent hundreds on decorations and threw the kind of parties that a couple hundred friends and close acquaintances looked forward to. I even had bouncers.
But it was around age 40 when I lived in Glen Ellen on a narrow little street where the homes were built in the 1920s and 1930s when Halloween got really good again. There were lots of kids and lots of parents who liked to turn the street into one big Halloween lounge.
You’d go door to door on that old street with your glass in tow and fill up your traveller at each house with good wine. Good Sonoma Valley wine usually. We dressed all up, the parents did. The kids ran wild around the neighbourhood. We gave out minis and there were no candy apples but the kids didn’t know any better so they were happy…and safe.
Last night in our Northern Napa neighbourhood we didn’t have too many kids come by despite the 4 carved pumpkins lit up outside and Henry’s crayon ghosts taped up on the door. I was ready with my minis…a bowl full. I’ll get to the leftovers eventually. And there were no parents carrying travellers. That’s ok. I didn’t have any wine ready anyway.
Still, Henry had a ball. He was dolled up as a green dino with an orange bucket and went out on the hunt with mom and his Uncle Greg. For a four-year-old with a small orange bucket filled halfway to the top, he thought he’d just won the candy Jackpot. And I guess he did.
I stopped loving Halloween for a while. Then Henry came and I get just as excited as I used to. But I do miss the full-sized candy bars, the apples, the popcorn and the travellers. I’d like to be someplace where all that happens. We are looking.