Last night, I took my 3-1/2 year old daughter trick-or-treating. We have taken her to a local outdoor mall Halloween event in the past two years, but felt that she was old enough to understand and appreciate the door-to-door candy solicitation. So while my husband stayed home to hand out candy, she and I ventured out into the darkness with flashlight in hand.
Halloween does not occur in Japan. Therefore, I have no childhood memory or tradition around this holiday. When I came to the States, I was 15 and attended a boarding school. The school had an event during where each dorm would take turns running to other dorms to obtain as much candy as possible in our pillow cases. We would all stand in the doorways of our rooms and just chuck candy at people who ran past us. They gave us something like 3 minutes to run. In addition, they would have a special dinner in the cafeteria with the costume contest and what have you. It was a good time. By the time I got to college and several years after that, Halloween was just parties with friends in costume. Then by the time I outgrew that, I lived in a house to receive trick-or-treaters, so that is what I did.
As I held my fully costumed daughter's hand and looked around on our street for a good house to visit, it occurred to me that I had actually never done this before. And suddenly I had a slight bit of stress to do it just right for my daughter's first experience. I had to call my husband to make sure that I understood the rules--that houses with jack-o-lantern were the ones to approach, but the ones with front porch lights on with no pumpkins confused me. He advised me that when in doubt, just go with the houses with jack-o-lanterns so that is what we did.
Daughter and I had practiced what she is supposed to say so we went from house to house, knocking on doors or ringing doorbells. My daughter got better at it with each house and seemed very excited in between to find the next house. We ran into several other kids, many in large groups, walking and I felt that I had succeeded in introducing my daughter to this very American tradition that I have come to enjoy so much.
This kicks off the time of year full of things I have learned after age 15 that I love. And while it was odd to run into a "first" in this country after being here for so long I realize those things will come up more as my daughter grows up and experiences parts of life I never did in this country. That is why it is handy to be married to a native.