Family Holidays


Halloween Past was something like this:

Costumes (of course), most purchased but some homemade. When they were young, my boys had simple requests – Ninjas, superheroes, knights in shining armor – options that could be found at the store and required minimal effort. As they got older, they became more creative, adding their own details to the purchased supplies.The last few years that he went trick-or-treating, my youngest son insisted on creating his own costume inventions with cardboard boxes and paint and wires. The results didn’t always turn out exactly as he envisioned, but they were still impressive.

Parties, at home and elsewhere. Many years ago, my husband and I hosted a party at our house far out in the country, set back in the woods. We were concerned that people wouldn’t want to make the drive, but the house ended up full. We had fun eating and drinking, talking and dancing among the ghosts and spiderwebs and skeletons.

Contests to determine the best pumpkin carvings, the best costumes, the best decorations. One of my favorite work memories is from the year the movie Twister came out, and we decorated our work space accordingly. It was quite elaborate, with fans blowing and papers flapping. We even crafted Christmas ornaments to resemble the data-collecting balls that the Twister team risked their lives to activate. When the contest judges came through, we acted out our characters, hanging on to the our chairs and desks, pretending to be blowing in the wind.

Trick-or-treaters, sometimes in groups of ten or 15 at a time, a constant stream of costumed kiddos knocking on the door, holding out their bags, saying the magical words. We used to have neighbors a few houses down the street who’d put out an elaborate display of crazy clowns and other creepy stuff. They called it the Psycho Circus, and it drew people from miles around. After they were done checking it out, parents would shepherd their kids to the other houses on the block to gather candy. Those neighbors moved a few years ago, taking the Psycho Circus with them, and the Halloween crowds as well. But we continue to get good numbers of trick-or-treaters every year, not as many as before, but enough that it is always wisest to stock up on candy.

Halloween Present is very different.

My sons are grown, too old for trick-or-treating, not interested in costumes. Parties are an unwise choice right now. Work-related festivities vanished with remote requirements and furloughs and job losses.

Still…we will have fun. Our front yard now contains a spooky battle scene, complete with a large dragon, skeletons, and swords. We’ll do our best to facilitate socially-distanced candy distribution, wearing masks and using hand sanitizer each time we replenish the bowl on the table at the end of our driveway, just in case anybody stops by. We’ll watch scary movies and eat popcorn and enjoy being together, grateful for what we have – our health, our home, our family.

Different can still be good.

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