the soul of halloween

Tonight, Superman and a dinosaur left home to rush through the neighborhoods in search of (elusive because Mom doesn’t buy it) candy.

It’s funny because as a Mom of little kids, I sometimes forget that the concept of Trick-or-Treating is not a born intuition, nor is the deferred gratification of waiting until you get home to eat your candy.  With one piece successfully acquired, my toothy dino thinks: Mission Accomplished!  Hehe…not quite…oh, there is more to be had!

Lucky for them, the trusty wagon is available for tired legs and Thor (Dad) is leading the charge in which small boys will learn the rubric for successful Trick-or-Treating: porch light on (garage light or lights inside the house, or street lamps in the yard apparently do not count around here…lol), knock knock, “ToT!”, {candy}, THANK YOU!…run to the next house…or ride the wagon…

Yes, I know the picture is fuzzy, but you can still see the “happy” shining through.  I recall the first year we went out with a tiny Tiger, I was a bit taken aback that we only made it through five houses before our small boy communicated he was “all done.”  Wasn’t this part of the rights of childhood?  Candy, costumes, FREE candy at that, racing the dark…it never dawned on me that the enthusiasm and excitement wouldn’t transfer at 1.

The next year, we were better prepared and chose the five houses on the block who would most enjoy seeing our toddler dudded up, sharing full-size candy bars and hot apple cider with us along the way…mmmmmmm…

After that, at three, a vague sense of anticipation began.  An abstract notion of free, combined with the word “chocolate” made for some excitement, especially in the company of a good friend.  And yet still, after a block we were done.  Exhausted and wagon-bound, no longer able to postpone the gratification of free sugar, my 3yo sat peacefully and half asleep with a lollipop in the dark.

Now, this was also the year I learned the importance of intuiting the fear factor, for Cinderella in possession of Twix was perfect, but a reenactment of the Chainsaw Massacre spontaneously being performed from someone’s garage was not.  With a three year old in tow, the avoidance of anything that might cause night terrors (read: less sleep for me and the challenge of calming multiple children with hysterics in the middle of the night) was looked on like the plague.

But at four, we’re entering a new layer of childhood.  Gone are my expectations that Halloween will be for my toddler as I remembered it at 12.  That’s kind of how parenthood goes too…our kids begin to teach us early that each experience is their own, not our memory for them.  Now that I’ve done this a few times, I expect that we’ll need the wagon and that they will be done right about the time it gets dark and I start to really get excited.

But now too, for the first time, I see his own memory layering.  For the first time, I don’t have to explain every holiday as though we’re experiencing it for the first time.  The synergy grows with each day.  These crisp fall days marching toward Halloween, Thanksgiving and eventually Christmas are not just days.  The holiday itself is not just a day.  It is a momentum built over months.

A season where, whether your preparing for costumes and candy, the rebirth of light or the light of the world, our children begin to layer their experiences…building the excitement of the coming day with parties, festivals, celebrations, crafts…suspense knowing what is coming and having to WAIT!

Someone’s sweet ride to school that Gabe got a ride down the hall in.

There is a crossover that happens when your first child begins to remember.  No other child of mine will need to be told so painstakingly why we have joy during these seasons.  They will have a brother to watch and learn from.  And, not realizing it until today, there will be no need for me to patiently explain the nuts and bolts of each holiday.  You do it once with your firstborn (for multiple years in a row it seems), and then they begin to remember.  It has caught be by surprise after being so accustomed to the prior situation.  The child grows, absorbing the role of teacher and, in turn, gifting me the ability to be part of the magic rather than leading the torch trying to explain that there is magic.

Today, we talked about the joy of Trick-or-Treating with our beloved Papa and good friends last year…together.  I got to laugh at our first school party when every other child was off diving into the crafts, and it was my boys who were gently and obliviously helping themselves to thirds and fourths…and fifths.

This holiday season, we begin a new dynamic.  One where we get to reminisce…together!

One where a small boy takes the lead from his older brother.

One where a Mom is given a new role…no longer “explainer and facilitator of holidays” but something else…something exciting…

This is the good stuff.





3 responses to “the soul of halloween

  1. Great writing! Great pictures! Great emotion! You’re awesome Gweeg..

  2. The kids look like they had a great time,Ging! Loved the costumes!

  3. I love to hear your reflections on your ever-growing life experiences — both the events and their meanings to you along the way. Such a richness you are!

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