Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, but this year I’m fighting through it. As a child, there was nothing more exciting than the anticipation of Trick or Treating. Planning my costumes with extreme detail; picking which friends to go join me in candy-hunting; and finding the biggest pillowcase or bag to fill up with the maximum treats was the highlight of my year. My brother and I would spill our bags at the end of the night and barter for the best of the best – which obviously was the Snickers bar. It took me a long time to grow out of that phase. In high school I went to haunted houses (even though they scared the crap out of me) and stayed up late watching scary Halloween movies. Even in college, I continued my love of Halloween. My friends and I dressed up in costumes, taking on the closest neighborhood to see if we could still get away with my favorite childhood ritual.
When I became a mother, Halloween took on a whole new meaning. Somehow presenting the best Halloween experience equated with good parenting and an ideal childhood. It was important to me to get it right. I couldn’t wait to plan the perfect costumes for my boys. I decorated the house like Martha Stewart was watching. I volunteered for school Halloween parties. I baked pumpkin-shaped cookies and gave the BEST candy on the block. I loved taking a hayride deep into the pumpkin patch to pick our “family” of pumpkins, which would be named and then carved with care. Watching Halloween through my boys’ eyes gave me such pleasure and satisfaction. I never considered that one day it would be over.
|Shelby & Noah 2002|
A little over nineteen years ago, I had my first child. Through the congratulations and baby gifts, many people would say to me, “Enjoy every minute. They grow up so fast.” Or “Don’t blink or he’ll be all grown up.” I listened with half an ear, and unfortunately, I blinked.
This week, as I turned on the Charlie Brown Halloween special, that I watched every year with my kids, it hit me hard. I was sitting on my couch alone. The childhood that I had, and the childhood I’ve created for my kids, is over. I have no costumes to create. Nobody will be home to enjoy my Halloween-themed dinner. I wallowed in empty-nester self-pity.
Last night, I shared these thoughts with my husband on our Saturday night date. While I’d been digging deep into my bag of positivity to find the silver lining in Halloween, he had the answer. He said the five magic words. “I’ll carve pumpkins with you.” I realized that my life is not over because my childhood is gone, or that my kids are grown. I get to look forward to sharing new memories and traditions with my best friend. Tomorrow is Halloween. I will look forward to the neighborhood kiddies and bask in their excitement; I will take pleasure in passing out the “good” candy; and when I turn out my lights on Halloween eve, I am “simply positive” that I will be grateful for the cherished memories of Halloweens past and excited for Halloween futures.