It’s a weird tradition and for some reason we go along with it. You know, candy solicitation. Last weekend, I went trick or treating for the first time since I was in short pants (that’s an old phrase meaning I was a little kid). My whole family gathered on Saturday to watch Harmon play soccer, to celebrate my brother’s birthday, and of course to watch the kids build a huge cache of sweets.

We began the day watching my seven-year-old nephew Harmon and his team play soccer. It wasn’t the World Cup but entertaining nonetheless. The coach was admonishing his son to stop jumping around like a ballerina (to which he then demonstrated the objectionable movements). And then I commented that in the midst of all these kids with unusual names like Harmon, Cian, and Zino, there was a refreshing reminder of normalcy in a kid named Joe. His dad was sitting next to me and said it was only fair because he had a long, hard to pronounce (and remember) Italian last name. I’m so glad that stereotypes are alive and well in an Italian kid being named Joe. Thank God for traditionalists.

Anyway, fast forward to just after 6 p.m. as the family walked out the front door to go trick or treating. In their usual Roadrunner-like speed, my brother’s family managed to get to the first house—next door about 15 yards away—some time around 6:45 p.m. I admit some of that time was for a photo shoot but a lot of it was taken up by Harmon’s indecision and issues with the container he was going to use to collect candy. As his parents were going in and out of the house to try and solve this dilemma, he and I sat down and had a philosophical discussion about Star Wars characters and his and Grendel’s role as said characters for that evening’s rounds.

Harmon got a bit sensitive when I inaccurately stated he was a storm trooper. “I am a clone,” he said. “I thought they were the same thing,” I replied. “No, the clones fought for the good guys—the Republic—and the storm troopers were turned by the Sith.” He then got upset because he figured everyone was going to make that same mistake. Because the Crowe kids were all garbed in Star Wars outfits (Julia was Darth Vader and Tyler was Luke Skywalker or a “rebel engineer” whatever that is) we decided that Grendel should play along, too. I thought Chewbacca was a good idea seeing how they are both furry and make the same kind of moaning sounds but once I said Jabba the Hut, Harmon was stuck on that. There was no outfit or anything, we just pointed out to the candy-givers the rolls of fur on Grendel’s neck and said, “He’s Jabba the Hut.”

When we reached the third house and Harmon announced in what I can only describe as a not-so-secret code that he had to “squeeze the lemon” I knew it was going to be a long night. And shortly after that when it started to rain and Harmon asked all the grown ups “who would like to volunteer to carry my blaster” I knew that next year I was going to go back to standing in my doorway and giving out the candy. But not like the creepy guy who made the kids sing a song and pick the candy out of the bowl he kept on his lap. There’s a fine line between being fun and being a weirdo.

I hope everyone had a happy Halloween. I was going to have a contest to vote on who had the cutest costume but only one person sent me photos, so her little ones win. Here are some cute kids in costumes.


Shannon's daughter Katherine the Cow


Shannon's son Charlie the Builder

Clone Luke and Jabba

the Clone, Luke, and Jabba