Last night was one of the best Halloweens I've ever had.
I love Halloween so much. I always have. There's something about the excitement in the air, the silliness, the fun. I love the houses that go all-out and decorate. I am always amazed by how creative people, children and adults alike, can be with their costumes. I think handing out candy is so much fun, and it's even more fun going door-to-door with my children. Back in my early 20's when I used to dabble in witchcraft, it was celebrated as the new year...and in truth, this time of year always seems like a new beginning with the holiday season upon us.
I also have had cause to celebrate on Halloween. In 1999, my husband, J, proposed to me on that night. And on Halloween morning 2005, with my then-one-year-old son, D, at my side, I looked at pregnancy test stick and saw the "+" mark. I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, A, and excitedly (and somewhat fearfully) told D he was going to be a big brother. Yes, Halloween has always been fun for me.
When I became a parent, Halloween took on new meaning. It wasn't about me, it was about my son. I recall those first few Halloweens with D....picking out his costume, taking him around a few houses. Usually my husband would join us for a few houses and then return home to hand out candy while I did a few more with my baby, and in subsequent years, toddler. The older he got, the more houses he would be able to go to (and the heavier his trick-or-treat bag would get!) When A was born, we would take her out to a few houses and then J would take her home and hand out candy, again with me walking around with D. I cherish those memories. I can still feel his little 2- and 3-year old hand in mine, hearing him exclaim over people's carved pumpkins on their doorsteps, his shyness in saying "trick-or-treat", coaxing him to go up to some particularly scary houses. I remember one year when he was dressed like Spiderman. He must have been 4. People would open their doors and say "hello, Spiderman!" and he would pout, "I'm not Spiderman, I'm D!" Ah, out of the mouths of babes.
When D became 5, and was in kindergarten, he finally had friends in the neighborhood (before that, we didn't know anyone with kids his age around us; turns out, the street was crawling with kids!) From that point on, every Halloween involved meeting up with a particular group of friends and running around the neighborhood. Typically J goes with him and that group, while I would do a few houses with A then return home to hand out candy.
I love to decorate for Halloween as well. In my house, decorating doesn't mean making the house look spooky. It means dragging out my box of "decorations", the majority of which are artwork that my kids have done, mostly in school, over the years. I get so much pleasure hanging up their orange finger-painted pumpkins and other such artwork.
Which brings me to yesterday.
Yesterday started out good. I took the kids to school, and stayed for their costume parade (D was dressed like a ninja, and A was dressed like a cat). The 4th and 5th grade students did a flash mob, so I got to see D dance with the group to Michael Jackson's "Thriller". I then helped out with A's 1st grade Halloween party, then went up to D's 4th grade class to do the same. It was so fun! I came home, did a quick 50 minute workout (biked on the trainer for 40 minutes, then ran for 10 minutes), showered, and had to leave to pick the kids up from school. I hurriedly threw laundry in the washing machine, and too late I realize I had accidentally tossed my phone in too. By the time I realized it, it was already wet, and not turning on.
I spent all afternoon brooding. I was afraid to tell J, as we have had so many unexpected expenses this year (we had to replace our washing machine, air conditioner/furnace, and garage door opener, to name just a few) and I knew he would not be happy about this. When D saw how upset I was, he said some wise words: "Mama, it's just a phone." I realized he was right. It was just a "thing" and it was just money.
This time last year, A had JUST gotten home from two weeks in the hospital, having broken her neck. She had the halo screwed to her head, and I pushed her in a wheelchair to a few houses, so that she would have a token trick-or-treat experience. I recalled her first Halloween, in 2006 when she was just 4 months old, having spent the first 3 months of her life in the NICU. She was not breathing well at all that night as I carried her to a few houses in her cute pea-in-a-pod costume, and in fact was a few days away from being back inpatient for month while she got a tracheomstomy. Hey, just a few months ago I was dealing with my husband's stroke. This Halloween, everyone was home, everyone was healthy, and that was the most important thing in the world. There is no amount of money that can buy that.
I was also grateful that just this week, J had uploaded all my photos from my phone onto the computer, so I didn't lose them. THAT would have been devastating.
So at trick-or-treat last night, I shook off my bad mood. The kids dressed in their cute costumes, and off we went. D went with my husband with his usual crowd of friends and hit every.single.house in the neighborhood. As for A? Well for the first time SHE had a group of friends to go around with too. Like my son, she didn't have neighborhood friends until she started kindergarten last year. Before that, all of her friends were from other sources (preschool, kids of my own friends, etc) and none were in our specific neighborhood. And although last year, in kindergarten, she had made some local friends, her neck break prevented her from really going out; as I wrote earlier, I just pushed her in her wheelchair (she was using a wheelchair at the time because of the halo on her head) for a few houses. Last night, however, she joined up with four other friends and had the best time.
I felt so good, knowing that D was happy with his friends, A was happy with her friends, and that both had a nice group of parents that I trusted and felt comfortable with. We were all healthy, we were all safe, and our family has come such a long way this past year. It was the best Halloween ever, mostly due to being able to simply be grateful for what we have and not stressing about the rest.
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