Halloween means different things to different people. To me, even though it’s been a long time, Halloween means candy my family couldn’t afford, a night spent with the most important people in my life and my cousin joining us always dressed as a bum. My sister and I wore different customs crafted by my talented mother. Chocolate was a special treat and we made sure those candies lasted past Christmas. My father would drive us to the new housing development where the candy was more forthcoming and the roads less dark. The candy was plentiful, the smiles few. A few non-smiling adults suggested we stay in our own neighborhood. There were less than ten houses we could walk to in ours. When our pillow cases were almost full we’d head to Central Falls, join my cousin and see what the poorer people could provide. There wasn’t a lot to expensive candy but there was candied popcorn, caramel apples which we ate before getting back into the car, and little toys that broke in a couple of weeks. All the goodies were given with love, always accompanied by the oohs and aahs we hoped our costumes deserved. When the darkness was too consuming and the voices of other kids faded away, we’d drop off my cousin and head home, always lying about how much candy we got. We had to have some mom didn’t know about.

I don’t remember thinking about how much money we did or did not have. What I remember is my sister’s giggles, my cousins full throated laughter and my love for them both.

Though times have changed and I’m a lot older what I wish for those who’ll trick or treat this year is not candy. I wish them the company of those around them, smiles at their costumes bought or hand made and the comfort of knowing they’re with the people they love, and who love them in return.