Is it weird that the older I get, the more I seem to fall in love with Halloween, a holiday that seems to be totally geared to children? I have lots of wonderful memories of Halloweens growing up, year-after-year occurrences that became traditions by accident, like Mom staying to pass out candy and keep tally marks of visitors on a notepad in the kitchen, while Dad drove us around in the mini-van because I don't ever remember a Halloween where it was nice enough to walk for a long time outside. We made all the usual stops - Grandmas and Grandpas, Dr. North's for a new toothbrush, the Wehrhan house to see what names of locals they put on that year's collection of headstones, and Edi's Southside Grocery for last year's Valentine's candy and a quick walk around the store to see if the mousetraps had a catch. Mom always cleaned the house, we always took pictures in the same corner of the living room, and we always organized our candy afterwards, laying it all out on the floor, trading for our favorites, and giving Dad all those black and orange wrapped candies that only surface around Halloween. It was a night out of the ordinary, a night that carried a sense of magic about it, and the older I get, the more I appreciate those little things Mom and Dad did to make it all a bit more special.
Now, I love Halloween for many of the same reasons I used to love it as a child, but because now I get to play a small part in adding to the magic for Cruz and Mila. I have the same ambition to make things nice, to light the garland, vacuum the rug, and clear the table. I wash Halloween pajamas, make something hot in the crockpot, and make sure there are a few spooky shows saved on the DVR to accompany our candy sorting. I didn't inherit my dad's love of carving pumpkins, but do have a thing for holiday-themed food and pretty costumes.
And pictures, of course.
And as a parent now on the other side of the holiday magic, I understand the behind-the-scenes that I was pretty oblivious to all those years growing up. I now realize that those costumes, most of which were handmade or put together with random things from the house, did not make themselves, but were put together with time, thought, and love. I now realize how hard it was to get us to bed, and get us up in the morning after a later-than-usual Halloween school night. And I realize that carving those pumpkins was definitely not as effortless as Dad made it look. This changing of the guard has provided wisdom along the way, and there's magic in that, too.
After a rough spot this weekend with a nasty flu bug that hit our little girl, we were blessed with a healthy and happy Halloween. The weather was near perfect, one of the best in my memory, and our neighborhood once again came alive with little ghosts and ghouls dashing and darting up and down the streets, two-story tall inflatable Darth Vaders and Pumpkin Kings greeting timid trick-or-treaters, firepits lit and neighbors congregating outside with treat bowls and beverages, and bags heavier than usual as it seems everyone was taking part in the festivities. We started our trick-or-treat adventures downtown on Main Street, where kids safely walk up and down our storybook streets and are greeted by masked, makeup'ed, and costumed business owners with bowls of candy for the hundreds of participants. We waved to our favorite masked Phantom atop the Oster Regent, directed Cruz who had limited peripheral vision in his Stormtrooper mask, and laughed as Mila silently stood by each bowl of candy, quietly expecting a handful.
Afterwards, we returned home for a festive dinner served by a strange mother wolf with a British witch accent, and then headed out again just before dark to walk our neighborhood streets with one of our favorite families.
These two! When she wasn't grabbing him by the arm, quietly demanding he stay next to her, she was hugging him tight as if he was about to leave her to join forces with The First Order.
Another Halloween has come and gone and I'm left with more than enough candy, pictures, and memories to last through next year. And now...November!