Tackling the Neighborhood Boo

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You’re probably familiar with the suburban ritual of “Booing” one’s neighbor with a basket of Halloween delights. Depending on my mood — and yes, there are many — I either love or hate the Boo.

The first time it happened I welcomed the cheerful ghost at my door, eagerly read the directions, shopped for goodies, and delivered a treat bucket to my favorite neighbor under the cover of darkness.

Since then, the Boo has gotten complicated.

First, you can’t Boo just anyone. You have to choose someone who will keep the Boo going. (And who are we kidding here? It’s Mom’s job.) If you leave your secret treat on the door of a Boo Killer, the fun stops. And whose fault is that? Sure, she killed the Boo, but aren’t you also to blame for your careless Boo selection? Telephones ring. Accusations fly. Meanwhile, no further Booing occurs.

To avoid this nasty situation, you carefully consult the neighborhood directory prior to initiating the Boo, considering the age and interests of the children, the family’s overall propensity to be festive, and any current obligations that may hinder Boo participation.

Once you choose the right family to Boo — the one you know in your jack-o’-lantern of a heart will honor the tradition — you must find items that will produce the intended result: excitement for Halloween and, by extension, the entire holiday season. Screw up the Boo and there won’t be a decent potluck until Easter.

So you go to the store for a pumpkin pacifier and a bag of orange rawhides for your neighbor who has a baby and two Rottweilers. Minutes before you’re set to Boo and run, you notice they’ve already been Boo’d! Yes, you’ve been beaten to the Boo. Now you have to start all over with the choosing and the shopping and the sneaking around the bushes. Sometimes, you even have to Boo someone you don’t even like. It’s enough to make Christmas look easy.

Occasionally, all goes as planned. You choose the correct Boo recipient and appropriate candies and novelties. But wait. Are your festive items good enough? Because of course the Boo is competitive. No one wants to give a “bad” Boo basket. No matter how carefully you choose your lucky Boo receiver or how thoughtfully you shop, someone will always have a better Boo than you.

For the past couple of years I’ve considered quietly bowing out of the Booing altogether. I know women who place a pre-emptive Boo sign on the door, fraudulently indicating they have already been Boo’d, already completed their end of this ghoulish social contract. Sneaky and effective, I like it. But I also love the fun and community of the Boo.

That’s why I believe the time has come for a Boo Gift Registry. We can streamline this process. Admit it. Between the Halloween lights, the Hobby Lobby scarecrow, and all those classroom parties, none of us has time to navigate the subtleties of the Boo. With a simple neighborhood listing or a quick amendment to homeowner covenants, we’ll never again risk being beaten to the Boo or accidentally Booing a Boo-Humbug. Most importantly, a registry will ensure that you get exactly what you want in your Boo basket.

Sign me up for spirits — the good stuff.

Lela Davidson is the author of Blacklisted from the PTA, a collection of irreverent essays about motherhood and the modern family. She eagerly awaits the Boo.

Categories: At Home, Fall, Family Fun, Food + Fun, Home, Lifestyle, Seasonal, Seasonal Fun, Things To Do