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Why Halloween is So Great

Me and my siblings, celebrating a 1990's Halloween

The thing that is great about Halloween is that it hits pretty much every phase of your life. Growing up in the Midwest, who doesn’t love a crisp day with swirling fall leaves? Every movie with a spooky backdrop pretty much looks like it was made down the street from us. I was watching The Curse of Bridge Hollow with my son, and he said, “Hey, that looks like our neighborhood.”

How do those who live in the tropics enjoy this holiday? I would really like to know. We once took a cruise over Christmastime and I don’t care how many holiday decorations were thrown all over the ship, or how much Bing Crosby was pumped out through the speakers - it didn’t FEEL like the holidays. Not one bit.

My youngest is right on the line of not trick-or-treating anymore. He has reached the “throw on a scary mask phase” and trample past the cute little princesses and Spidermans with a huge pillowcase slung over a shoulder to cram full of candy.

Here is why I am okay with that.

Halloween Lesson #1 - You are Never Too Old to Trick or Treat

When I was in the 6th grade, the same age as my youngest, I went trick-or-treating with my best friend. We dressed up as volleyball players, which was easy as we just wore our actual volleyball uniforms. We were having a good time until we stopped at a house and the lady handing out the candy looked at my friend and then looked at me and said, “Aren’t you a little old to be trick-or-treating?”

My friend and I were the same age. I just happened to be a head and a half taller than her. Of course, I didn’t say anything, but instead slunk off with my shoulders down. The joy of trick or treating was gone. With that one comment - I was done.

No matter how tall someone is, or how old they might be, let them enjoy dressing up and give them some darn candy. Wouldn’t you rather them do that then smash your pumpkins or throw eggs on your house?

Halloween Lesson #2 - Halloween Sleepovers Are the Worst

Growing up, my siblings and I were not allowed to watch really scary movies. Going to a sleepover though, all bets were off. I will never forget going to a sleepover near Halloween and my friend had rented a pile of all the best scary movies: Chucky, Freddy, and Jason.

About the time the third Nightmare on Elm Street VHS was popped in, everyone started dozing off. Except for me. Considering the fact that Freddy Krueger got you in your dreams, I considered it very unwise to fall asleep. Instead, I stared, with horror, at the screen and watched all the way through the credits as everyone else slept in a peaceful slumber.

When I returned home in a crabby mood, my mom threatened the end of sleepovers, never knowing the sleepless night of torture I endured.

Halloween Lesson #3 - Taking Toddlers Trick-or-Treating is the Best

The sweet spot for taking kids trick-or-treating, in my opinion, is when they are a baby or toddler. At this phase of the parenting game, you are going to be pushing a stroller. Toddlers will insist on walking to maybe two houses and then are happy to just eat sugar while you roll them up and down driveways and they turn on their cute smiles just long enough to hold out their bag and then collapse back into the stroller until their next performance.

And bonus, they have no concept of how much candy they got, so it is

pretty much your candy. If it disappears, they won’t even notice. You can dump out the candy on the carpet when you get home and spread it out just like when you were a kid, and all the good candy is yours.

Halloween Lesson #4 - Keep a Close Eye on Your Keys

When my son was about three years old, he locked me out of the house. On Halloween. While trick-or-treaters were coming up to our door for candy. All I know is that I went outside for a minute, the door slammed behind me and locked, and I could hear manic laughing and see a little devil jumping up and down on the couch through the window.

My son was wearing a devil costume, shoving candy in his face, and completely ignoring me banging on the front door. Luckily, I had my cell phone on me and 20 minutes later (after giving about 20 odd explanations to those who attempted to trick-or-treat at our house) my parents arrived with a toolbox to pry the front window open so I could climb back in and reclaim my home.

That same Halloween, I couldn’t find my keys to go to work the next morning. Again, I called my parents after an exhaustive search and within five minutes my mom found my keys - buried under candy in my son’s plastic pumpkin.

Family Memories

To me, Halloween is all about family memories. I have never been one who is known for dressing up as an adult and going out to parties, because it is all about the traditions I have had since I was a kid. There was nothing better than getting my costume ready to go while my mom made warm bowls of chili before we ventured out into the cold or the rain. My memories of a warm Halloween were few and far between. If you don’t come back with rosy cheeks and chattering teeth, is it even Halloween?

Once I had my own kids, it became all about taking them to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to see Grandma dressed as a witch, and Grandpa saying, “And who do we have here?” as he grabs his camera, my mom holds out the witch's book for the kids to open. We might have one more year of this, or this might be the year that we are finally at home handing out our own candy.

If you think about it, Halloween is the best way to document your childhood and the childhood of your kids and

grandkids, as you know you will have at least one Halloween picture each and every year. And maybe that is why Halloween is so great - it is one of the few things that remains constant in our lives.

Fall and winter are packed full of nostalgia. Memories surround us. When I see the leaves falling off the trees and swirling around and around it always reminds me of all the memories we have in life. Memories swirl around and past us sometimes, just out of reach, and then a certain smell, or sound, brings it right back to you. You just have to reach out and grab the leaves before they blow away. Grab on to the good ones. It won’t be long until Charlie Brown says, “Well, another Halloween has come and gone.”

My younger brother and snow-covered pumpkins.

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