Life in Our Mountain Town: Trick-or-treating and staying warm in Truckee |

Life in Our Mountain Town: Trick-or-treating and staying warm in Truckee

That Tuesday is Halloween may have only vaguely occurred to some of you, if you happen to live in one of those neighborhoods of Truckee that are dark and deserted on Halloween night.

Maybe you have no need to buy candy because the trick-or-treaters will be few to none. Maybe you have no children, or maybe your religious beliefs preclude you from observing Halloween.

Then again, maybe you live in Gateway, where you will be hosting throngs of families on Halloween night.

I’ve been told that the Gateway homeowners each pass out between 600 and 800 pieces of candy, which means they are providing for just about every kid who doesn’t live in the few other neighborhoods that are also bustling with trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.

Halloween in my household involves lots of planning and sometimes, from a mom’s point of view, some failed bargaining. Ultimately, the members of my family all try to overcome the silly mother issues such as the threat of frostbite, so that we can all enjoy the evening.

I used to have more say in my children’s costume choice and costume warmth than I do now. Having more say, however, hasn’t always been a good thing.

I quickly learned that our family should stick to store-bought or catalog-purchased costumes after the year that I took my oldest child to her first “Mommy and Me” Halloween party. I had decided that as a good mom I should make her costume, so I put together a pumpkin costume. I can’t quite remember how I made it but I can tell you that since I don’t own a sewing machine, I imagine it was held together by some tape, a few rubber bands, and maybe just a little bit of hand stitching.

We arrived at the recreation center for our morning of Halloween fun, and my poor 2-year-old was the sorriest looking pumpkin you have ever seen. If I recall correctly, there were two other adorable pumpkins at the party – one was a catalog-purchased costume and the other was an elaborate and well-done version made by a mother with a talent for sewing.

That same child of mine is now in seventh grade, and her costume is homemade again this year, but this time, thanks to a friend of hers and her mom who sews, it’s pretty impressive. She is going to be an orange soda can and plans to trick-or-treat with her friends out in Glenshire.

That will leave my husband and me to traipse along with our younger child in Gateway, another fast-fleeting tradition for our family.

This year my younger daughter is once again contemplating being something “pretty.” This spells trouble for me as a parent, because whatever she is thinking of, I guarantee it will have thin, see-through sleeves, and if like the past two years when she has been a genie, a bare midriff look. I’ve let her know, just like in past years when ideas to be Princess Jasmine or Cinderella have come up, that it had better look good with sweats underneath it, or a ski jacket on top.

The idea of being a genie for the third year in a row seems to be her top choice right now. She must think she looks pretty good in that costume.

I find myself wavering between exasperation at the thought of the same flimsy costume, which was not designed with Truckee children who regularly trick-or-treat in 30 degree temperatures in mind, and the realization that I shouldn’t wish away these precious years when I still have a child who enjoys being something pretty for Halloween.

Probably the reason she can’t think up another idea for a Halloween costume, something in which she’ll actually be warm, is because she usually refuses the sweats or turtleneck idea and so my husband and I end up hauling around her warmest coat and gloves.

When she’s absolutely freezing, and when she figures most everyone has seen her in her beautiful costume, she then will agree to wear a coat to the last few houses. At that point in the evening, getting a few last pieces of candy takes precedence over how her costume looks.

Since we live in one of those Truckee neighborhoods that tends to be empty on Halloween night, we like to meet up with friends in Gateway where we’ll partake in the annual ritual of following along as our kids go from house to house.

Next Tuesday night, I will be hoping for unseasonably warm temperatures, or I will make the best of escorting an insufficiently dressed but happy genie.

Katie Shaffer has lived in Truckee since 1981.

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