It’s the great teal pumpkin, Seattle!

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It’s my first Halloween in Seattle and being a childless, hedonistic hoyden of an adult (I exaggerate, though I am currently on my second cupcake of the day), I think my boyfriend and I both felt somewhat obligated to find and attend an event populated by scantily-clad 20- and 30-somethings. The funny thing is, we did that last Halloween and found ourselves rather, well, bored. We went home early and regretted the money we’d invested in our costumes.

That’s not to say we’ll never again drink or attend a party. Just that, for now, on Halloween at least, it seems to have lost its charm.

What does appeal to us–and we were both a little sheepish about admitting this to one another–is decorating our house until it looks like a pumpkin patch either exploded or vomited all over it and throwing open our doors to trick or treaters. As Colin says, “We’re going to be that one awesome house handing out full candy bars.”

We’re starting from scratch. Having lived in apartments for our entire adult life, we barely had room for the necessary furniture much less storage for holiday decorations that we only used once a month. And, having just bought a house, we’re on a budget which is, admittedly, a little limiting though I am planning on scouring the discounted Halloween leftovers once the night of candy and ghoulish wonder is past.

As I was researching places to buy cheap candy I started seeing references to a “Teal Pumpkin Project.” Being the curious sort–and wanting to start out my career as the cool house on the block in a proper, educated manner–I looked it up. And it turns out that it’s an effort to raise awareness about food allergies and, specifically, the challenges of trick or treating when you suffer from food allergies.

Honestly, my first thought was “If a kid’s got a really severe food allergy, maybe they’re better off not trick or treating.” And then I remembered how excited I was to go trick or treating as a kid, how important it was, and how glad I am now that my parents put in the effort to make holidays special for me. I’ve never had a food allergy, but I am a vegetarian so I know how much it stinks to feel left out just because there’s nothing at the table for you. Plus, my family has a rather lengthy history of diabetes and I started thinking about what Halloween would have been like as a kid with diabetes and it’s not a pretty picture. Being a kid with diabetes would be unpleasant on the best of days, and on a day like Halloween, well, let’s just say that I can see how being excluded from one of the most important holidays on the kid calendar would be heart-breaking.

So I visited the Teal Pumpkin Project (which is organized by Food Allergy Research & Education) and signed us up. Basically, this means that I added our house to the interactive map, and was a little surprised and disappointed to see that we are one of only three houses participating in Seattle.

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Then I signed a pledge to offer non-food treats to trick or treaters. We still plan to offer candy as well, but this way kids will have a choice. And I wanted to make it a good choice which isn’t easy because I don’t spend a great deal of time around kids so I don’t necessarily know what they like, but I managed to find glow-in-the-dark Dia de Los Muertos temporary tattoos, glow-in-the-dark vampire fangs, pirate skull rings, and finger puppet temporary tattoos in bulk and I’m hoping not only that it will be satisfying to any kids who can’t choose the candy, but that it will be good enough that they won’t resent not being able to choose in the first place.

I don’t yet have my teal pumpkin. We’re not visiting the pumpkin patch until the last weekend before Halloween because our pumpkins have a history of rotting more rapidly than we expect. But my hope is that parents will see us on the map and bring their kids by. Maybe next year the kids and parents will remember us and drop by again and by then we’ll have increased our stash of decorations and one year after another becomes a tradition, a life. That’s what excites me most about finally having a house. Knowing where I’ll be next Halloween and the one after that and the one after that, being able to make plans–whether it’s to go out to a party or stay at home and load kids up with candy and toys. And, if we don’t happen to get as many trick or treaters as I expect, there’s a decent chance I’m going to show up at work the next week covered head to toe in Glow-in-the-Dark skulls and plastic pirate bling on every finger. Because even though I’m sufficiently adult to own my own house, I’m not sure I’m ready to be a proper grown up. In fact, I may even start calling this house “Neverland.”

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