The Year Without A HalloweenMorgan Shanahan
She picked her costume back in August. A Candy Fairy that she saw in a catalogue and my genius of craftiness mother-in-law decided to make from scratch (if you’ve ever wondered where the fabulous …loveMaegan got her DIY skills from, now you know). Over the past few weeks we’ve watched with anticipation as a purple leotard turned in to the fabulous roy g. biv frock you see to the left there, and later, would be covered in hand-made lollipop appliques, sparkles, and accessorized with the necklace, bracelet, and shoes Miss Delilah Georgie picked out her self.
She’s three this month, so it’s the first year she cares about Halloween (coincidentally, it’s also the first year she’s had experience with candy.)
Tonight in Los Angeles she’ll don the candy fairy costume she’s been aching to wear out for weeks and collect her treats. Only I won’t be there. Instead, I’m here in Long Island New York where Hurricane Sandy has left me stranded along with tens of thousands of other wayward travelers, left millions of east coasters without power, and thousands of others homeless or displaced.
Sandy is a nasty hateful bitch. She ripped through these neighborhoods at speeds I’m not even comfortable driving. The surges near the shorelines in the city, the suburbs, and the whole of the tri-state area washed over sea walls and into living rooms rising above chest level and beyond in as little as five or ten minutes. The destruction is unimaginable, and I’m standing on dry ground. The same cannot be said for millions of others whose homes and worlds are underwater.
In Manhattan uptown and downtown are like two different worlds. Traffic is in grid lock and subways aren’t running making moving through the usually seamlessly connected neighborhoods difficult to say the least. From block to block, neighborhood to neighborhood, parents who are lucky enough not to be pulling cars out of their living room are looking at their eager kids in costumes wondering the same thing:
In the wake of Sandy what becomes of Halloween?
As an adult watching friends salvage baby gear from waterlogged basements it’s hard to wrap your head around knocking on your neighbors doors asking for candy. As a parent stranded on the other side of the country, I’m stuffing down my selfish woe-is-me pangs over missing my own child’s Halloween reminding myself that I’m lucky to have my family and health and my livelihood intact. But as a childhood survivor of a natural disaster of epic proportions, I remember the comfort normalcy brought to my barely-tween self in the wake of the Northridge Earthquake. The neighbors baking chocolate chip cookies in their RVs, the marshmallow roasts in fireplaces, happy moments that pepper my recollection of sleeping two families in a single living room until FEMA had come through and deemed our homes structurally sound. Or worse…deemed them not. My husband, ten at the time, was displaced from his home and lived separate from his family for months, and the moments of normalcy and life as he knew it are the things he looks back on fondly from those trying times.
New Jersey’s governor, the incredible Chris Christie (seriously, I could not be loving this man more, he’s so human and comforting it’s awesome) proposed postponing Halloween until Monday throughout the state. I’d love to see all the affected neighborhoods take up the cause. Lower Manhattan, Long Island, parts of the burroughs and the eastern seaboard that are still in total darkness, we don’t have to give up on Halloween completely — give the kids the dose of normalcy they need. Memories of disasters don’t have to be terrifying. Surviving the Northridge Earthquake isn’t the horrible memory it could be because the adults in our lives made sure that despite weeks of school closures and living in rubble we continued to feel like children. Let’s do the same for our kids. My daughter (who’s never spent more than a few days away from me prior to this past week and a half) will probably forget I’m absent by the time the first Reeses hits the bottom of her trick-or-treat sac, but thanks to my dear friend and neighbor, I too will be recreating Halloween in my West Coast neighborhood come Monday night. Because Sandy, you can knock us down, but you can’t stop us from having a Happy Halloween.