Postcard From Halloween 2013

Scurry, scurry.  We are getting ready.

I tackle the impossible task of making excited children stay on task.  If we are going to have Halloween, we need to _________________.  “Halloween!” their little brains hear — and nothing else.  Laundry?  Cleaning up?  Schoolwork?  Piano practice?  WHAT?!  No no no no.  We can think of costumes, friends, s’mores, and candy…and nothing else.

We emerge from the early afternoon weather-beaten but no worse for wear; we begin stacking wood, arranging chairs, hanging lights.  The neighbors were freaked out by the long dark driveway last year; let’s make it brighter.  The older boys arrange the cider cups into what they call Napoleon’s Imperial Castle.  I fiddle with the motion-detector light that never works right.

And then I say the words they’ve been awaiting: “It’s time to put your costumes on.”  They bolt upstairs while I go to the kitchen, wondering — why am I bothering to make dinner again?  Everyone will live on sugar tonight.  I guess we might as well get some whole grains and protein in while we can.

Dusk falls as we eat; we hurriedly throw paper plates away and rush outside.  Time to light the fire.  I grow more nervous about this task yearly as I have experienced scouts in the family now, but my pride says I must do it myself.  I need to keep up with them somehow.  My hobbits are climbing trees and sweating in their wool sportsjackets and flannel cloaks.  Merry falls out of the tree and hits his head pretty hard.  Eowyn helps him with his icepack.  Napoleon’s Imperial Castle has blown all over the driveway.

WHEN are we going trick-or-treating? comes the inevitable question, over and over again.  We await Dad’s arrival home from work to spring us on our way.

As we move from house to house, questions come to my mind:  Are all those kids his?  They seem too close to be siblings.  How are all those people related?  How long did it take her to make those extending batwings?  How do I not know more of the people who live around me?  And of course…why do you have your porch light on if you’re not giving out candy?

Dark is upon us and I begin to understand how the hobbits’ cloaks kept them safe.  I can’t see the boys at all.  We have Eowyn’s bright white dress to guide us home, where the fire is blazing and friends are gathered.

Kids head inside to watch Charlie Brown and raid their candy sacks while parents sit long by the fire and talk church, kids, and work.  Eventually funny childhood Halloween stories come out.  We laugh some more.  I am thankful.

Wish you were here.

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