Flash forward to my adulthood (seriously I was 23, I think) when I figured out that some people don't celebrate Halloween because, I dunno... I'm still not sure why. It's the devil's holiday? The religious explanations were/are so at odds with my experiences of Halloween at church that I've never really understood them. If you don't celebrate Halloween, that's fine, it's your prerogative. Still, I find myself every October waiting on pins and needles to celebrate Halloween as I know and love it. For me, Halloween is a holiday about community. This year is a perfect example of why.
Let me tell you about my weekend.
On Friday, we hosted a potluck at our house in honor of the iDebate Rwanda team. My house has been decorated for Halloween since October 1st - bats and spiders, witches and lots of pumpkins. For a couple of the guests, the potluck was stop #1 on a night full of Halloween revelry. One was dressed as a suffragist, which led to a historical conversation with our Rwandan guests about women trying to earn the right to vote in the U.S. (always a worthy conversation to have - GO VOTE TODAY!). Another guest arrived wearing fairy wings and the glittery-est tutu I've ever seen. After she left, my house looked like it had been glitter bombed, and that was awesome. In a world where grown-ups are saddled with multi-tasking, 24-hour availability, and so many plates in the air that juggling seems like a pipe dream, Halloween allows fully-fledged adults to indulge in creativity. Adults need more fun in our lives, and Halloween is a place where that is allowed.
Saturday was actual-factual Halloween. After a full day of gymnastics and soccer, we headed out around 4:30 to start our trick-or-treating fun. We stopped at friends' houses, oohed and aahed at the effort some people put into making the front of their houses look oh so spooky, complimented other kids' costumes, petted dogs, and accepted candy treats from people we don't even know. We ate a quick dinner out with Nana and Oma, and then joined some friends so that the kiddos could trick-or-treat together. After a while, we headed to Grammy's neighborhood where we dumped the jack-o-lantern bucket and started over again. Emme trick-or-treated for UNICEF, raising a grand total of $196 with online and in-person donations. We visited with Grammy for a while, and she told us about all of the new neighbors she met when they knocked on her door to trick-or-treat. After a pleasant visit, we declared the end of Halloween and reluctantly headed home. Of course, we ate a couple of pieces of candy before bed. :)
Although our night ended with sweet treats, my case for Halloween is about more than just getting candy. On Friday and Saturday night, this is what I experienced:
- A chance to indulge in creativity as an adult
- Time spent visiting with friends and family at their homes
- The opportunity for little ones to create fun memories together
- Positive engagement with perfect strangers
- Appreciation over the effort that people put into making their homes hospitable
- Compliments to and from strangers
- Kindness to animals
- Trust in our neighbors
- Charitable giving
Emme talked all the way home, not about all of the candy that she got, but about all of the people that she got to meet. She exclaimed, "We must have met a BILLION!" She talked about how much she loved her town. She talked of the fun houses that she saw. She talked about the good time she had with her friends. For our family, Halloween was a community-building experience, and I wouldn't want to have it any other way.
On Sunday, we hosted our annual post-Halloween movie party. It's a chance for the kiddos to wear their costumes one last time. There is a lot of food, some silly games, the house gets trashed, and everyone has a blast. By the end of the weekend, I was tired to the bone, but it was a good kind of tired. It was the kind of tired that begs for a good night's sleep, just so that I can wake up with a huge smile on my face and a bag of Peanut M&M's for breakfast. Happy Halloween, y'all.