Last night I was excluded from trick-or-treating.
As has been our tradition for many years, we had folks over for chili (click here for my world-famous recipe), sweet potato cake and ginger molasses cookies. My goal? Shove healthy food into kids before they dive into their candy bonanza. It hasn’t worked for the 12 years we’ve been doing this, but I’m always one to keep trying strategies that are proven failures. As Scott loves to quote to me in so much of our parenting, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Of course, in some of the faith traditions to which I belong, the fact that we celebrate Halloween and I’ve led my children into the devil’s holiday means I have just proven that I’m not trustworthy to be a minister. Of course, in the larger Boston university culture in which I minister, the fact that I might not consider celebrating Halloween because I believe evil spiritual powers do exist makes me even more suspect.
So why do we love Halloween?
- Because it’s fun. It’s fun for the kids. It’s fun for the grown-ups. You get to wear funny clothes. And how many times do families genuinely have a lot of fun together? I take comfort in the fact that Jesus seemed to be a guy who liked to have fun and got killed, in part, for that penchant by more religious folks.
- Because it’s the best time to meet your neighbors. There is no other holiday when you go to your neighbor’s doors and greet one another with big smiles. As neighbors stand in front of lit jack-o-lanterns wearing funny hats and passing out candy, I love the smiles, the greetings and the well-wishes.
- Because it’s a time to be generous. Apart from showering friends with chili they don’t eat, it’s also a time to shower neighborhood kids with substances that will rot their teeth and grow their bellies but give their hearts joy.
When we lived in Somerville, we lived on a “Halloween” street. Our neighbors decorated out the wazoo. The former owners warned us that we’d need bags and bags of candy. The first year I bought 9 and ran out within 45 minutes. We had to take the candy our kids’ AND their friends’ had spent the last 45 minutes collecting to soothe the masses.
|A Harry Potter Halloween–3 witches, Dobby, an
adorable bat and a tiger
But gone are the days of Tinker Bell, princess and adorable little bat costumes. My kids have gotten big. Both girls decided they were too “mature” to trick-or-treat anymore. Ling, as a 10th grader, kept telling Kai she was being ridiculous–that 8th grade was the last year she could trick-or-treat and she should do it. But Kai was adamant.
Ren told me he wanted to trick-or-treat with his friends, but did nothing about it. Running far behind this year, I sent out invitations on Sunday and we got a full house!
By the time everyone arrived, we had a hot dog (Ren), a dwarf, 2 mad scientists, a convict, a monster, and 2 guys in camouflage (including a dad). Then the 2 girls drew mustaches on their faces and Kai-Kai decided to “supervise” the boys as they trick-or-treated.
“Do you want me to come?” I asked Ren.
“Noooooo,” he said, “Kai-Kai is coming, she’ll watch us to make sure we behave.” (all spoken with the utmost respect as you can imagine)
So Scott and I sat with fellow parents eating chili, sweet potato cake and ginger molasses cookies. Ling handed out candy while working on her homework. Kai “supervised” the boys who had a grand old time trick-or-treating in 38 degree weather.
The kids might not have eaten much chili, but doing Halloween this way over and over, even if I’m excluded from trick-or-treating? Completely worth it.