Despite the November-level temperatures that have descended on us like a harbinger of winter, I have been bundling up and taking my daily walks. On my most recent one, I kept seeing the same yard sign on front lawn after front lawn. It showed a cartoon big cat in a ghost costume and sported the announcement, “WE’VE BEEN BOO’D.”
For the uninitiated, being “boo’d” means that someone sneaked up to your door in the weeks before Halloween and deposited a bag or bucket of sweet treats on the doorstep. The signs are apparently a way to indicate that one’s household has already been hit, and booers should spread the wealth in Halloween candy somewhere else.
But the signs also celebrate a simple and neighborly tradition whose sole purpose is to light up the eyes of children. I distinctly remember the joy my children felt when the doorbell rang on a dark autumn evening and we found a decorated bag of goodies left on the doorstep. The goodies came with a piece of paper adorned with a ghost and the message that we’d been boo’d. We were instructed to make four copies of the notice, place ours in a window, and then pay it forward by surprising four other houses in our neighborhood.
I conspired with the kids to target favorite friends on the block and helped them with their covert ops in the dark. We’d all giggle as we ran away or hide behind a shrub to watch someone open the door and discover our gift. Being a mom, I would make sure I had put enough of the same kinds of candy for as many children as I knew resided in the house we were booing. I also added Halloween-themed activity books and other inexpensive trinkets since I knew they were about to be deluged with candy from trick-or-treating.
It was heartwarming to see that the booing tradition is still alive and well in my town. With COVID-19 still severely compromising our lives, it is nice to see people spreading a little joy – and in a socially distant way! Maybe this is the secret to this year’s Halloween dilemma. Instead of having kids go from house to house to garner treats, maybe neighborhoods should organize candy drop-offs to any house with a designated sign indicating they’d like to participate. Not only would it be safer, it would be a way to bring the community together in a tough and politically divisive time.
There’s still time to make your own little boo bags and treat some lucky children to a pre-Halloween surprise. It might just bring out the child in you.