So it has begun…The Seven Months of Celebration.
This is a nickname I have affectionately given to the Holiday season, which in our home begins Oct. 1 and lingers until shortly after Easter. If you are a parent who has raised a young child, my guess is - you get it.
“The Seven Months of Celebration” for my children are exactly that. It begins, when they spot the first storage tub which holds the fixin’s to sprinkle our home with Harvest and Halloween decorations. At the ages of four and seven each of the eight holidays, seem to bring them much joy, fun and ultimately great memories.
Halloween seems to be the perfect Holiday to kick off the season, getting the sillies out early on. In a past column I shared that this is truly my son’s favorite holiday. He is big on imagination and pretending so this one is right up his alley.
For the first five years of his life Trick or Treating consisted of a trip to his grandparents where he visited a few neighbors (that we know) and then helped them with passing out candy. We lived in the country when he was little, so this was the easiest and the grandparents of course … loved it.
Last year was our first Halloween living in town. My daughter was then three and my son six. The idea of living in a ‘Trick or Treat’ neighborhood amongst houses that were decorated had them both giddy all the way up until the actual date of Oct. 31.
This year as the holiday drew near I sent a message to a few girlfriends from the neighborhood suggesting we take the Trick or Treat journey together. One of the girlfriends was still relatively new to the neighborhood and this would be her children’s first year Trick or Treating. She and her family had moved from an older neighborhood, which had lost its Trick or Treaters to a newer development.
“Oh my...Just occurred to me that we now live in a neighborhood that we can tour. And we need to have candy on hand!” she said.
The comment made me smile, as I remembered that excitement from the previous year when I felt the same way.
We began our Halloween in the same way we have since my son was four months old - lined up for the Halloween Parade. We paraded down G Street with our friends taking in the costumes and appreciating the spectators who had lined up to watch.
Then, off to the neighborhood we went. As we made our journey from house to house my girlfriend shared their previous Halloween’s had been similar to what ours were. The grandparent tour. She shared how excited the boys were to go from house to house collecting candy.
As we made our way, directions slowly crept from our mouths to our excited children.
“Say Trick or Treat?” was first, as the four eager beavers shouted “Happy Halloween” at their first victim.
“Don’t walk across the grass.”
“Do not step up into the house. Stay planted on the porch.”
“The lights are off, they may not be home.”
“Did you say thank you?”
House by house direction and guidance continued. At some point it occurred to me, we were teaching our children to Trick or Treat. As I write this I cannot help but giggle. The simple thought of it really does seem ridiculous and sure, there are plenty who do not give it a minute of thought.
But…I have been the homeowner watching children trample through my flowers to get to the porch. I have opened the door at 8:15 to the incessant doorbell ringer to share I was out of candy only to be greeted with “Do you have something else?”
Following the night of fun and reflecting on our children with buckets full of candy, I realized something. Yes, they were each delighted with their selection and I was equally delighted with the lesson.
Being a parent is more than a gift, it is a job. Like any job, I do not take this one lightly. Children do not know, unless they are taught. Lessons are happening all the time, not just at school.
Whether it be how we address a person when they cut us off on the road or telling our children not to walk across the lawn - these are lessons.
The candy, the giggles, the smiles from that night were all equally amazing. But, I am most grateful for the lessons and standing beside a friend who finds them equally as important.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.