We received the following story from a reader and Martinsburg resident.  Although Halloween is past us, we believe the ideas expressed here can and should carry through the rest of the holiday season and into our everyday lives. 

11 AM, Saturday, Oct 31: I head into the grocery store for the few items I need for the weekend, and I see the pumpkins are on sale. They are half off the regular price

When was the last time I even carved a jack-o-lantern?

The pumpkins are staring at me, mutely asking to be taken home and to fulfill their Halloween destiny.

Okay then, let’s do it this year.

After my short shopping trip, I return to my car with a cart full of groceries, several bags of candy and five pumpkins.  I’m not sure I will carve more than one, but things always look better in groups.  I rationalize my purchase as I pack my car.

On the way home, I resolve to give at least one of the pumpkins to my neighbor, Mrs. C. She has lived in the neighborhood since the late ‘60s and is the first Martinsburg native I met when I moved to town. We have developed a friendly relationship over the past few years.

Normally, Mrs. C decorates her front porch for the holidays, but this year, her Halloween decorations were not on display. Because this is out of place, I wonder if she is ill or just out of town. Since I have to make a trip to the hardware store, I decide to pick up a few mums to give her. As far as flowers go, I’m not their biggest fan, but I remember she likes them and decide they make a good gift.

When I return home, I place the mums and a spare pumpkin on her front porch with a short note just to say hello. “This is the inverse of the way trick-or-treat normally works,” I think to myself as I walk back home. I shift my thoughts to the creation of my jack-o-lantern.  It’s been years since I’ve made one, and I’m out of practice. Not wanting to shy away from the challenge, I get to work. By sundown I have everything set.  The largest pumpkin is grinning like an idiot on my front steps, flanked by a trio of faceless siblings. Unsure of what to expect, I place the candy at-the-ready just inside the front door.

Do I have enough candy? Would anyone show up? Do people still do this, or is it just a quaint custom that has gone by the wayside?

Despite my concerns, visitors begin to arrive just after dark.  The first group consists of a half-dozen pre-teens, sheepishly asking for candy. I’m just happy that anybody has shown up to validate the work I have put into the evening. Before long however, ghosts, zombies, superheroes and witches are at my door with surprising regularity.

The next morning, I find that things are exactly as I left them.  Candy distributed.  No mess. No vandalism. I know that you are expecting to hear about smashed pumpkins and toilet paper trees, but that would be a lie.  On that basis, I count my Downtown Martinsburg Halloween 2015 a modest success.

11 AM Saturday, November 6: I finish some cleaning in the kitchen because I am expecting guests. I hear a knock at my side door and find a smiling Mrs. C.

“I just came by to thank you for the flowers and the pumpkin you put on my porch last weekend.”

She tells me that she had been in Inwood to visit her daughter that Friday, and she had not had the energy to decorate.

“I was so tickled. I thought I had to do something for you, too, and so I baked you something.”

She presents me with a homemade pumpkin pie, complete with whipped cream.

I thanked her and I told her what remarkable timing she had, since I was expecting house guests and did not know what I was going to feed them.

“But now that you’ve brought the pie, I guess at least I know what we’re going to eat for dessert!”

She responds with the biggest grin and leaves me to finish preparing for my visitors.

As I close the side-door, I think to myself that I must re-assess my Downtown Martinsburg Halloween 2015.  It was not a modest success.  It’s actually one of the nicest Halloweens I’ve had to date.

– MB Citizen

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