31 Oct Halloween Is The Most Wonderful Night Of The Year (seriously) (better than Christmas)
I love Halloween.
Last year Tess was almost three and she dressed up like a dinosaur. Or a lizard. Something.
During supper we reviewed the facts. She gets to dress up in her dinosaur costume and then go with John from house to house and knock on the door and yell “Trick or Treat” and that people would open the door and give her candy.
“Do you understand?”
She looked at me.
John said “I hope I get gummy bears.”
I said, “Do you understand Tess?”
She said, “There’s going to be bears?”
Ok. So we were getting somewhere.
We dressed her up, John racing around in his Batman costume.
“Look Daddy I’m a dinosaur!”
“Good work. Ok. Get your bag.”
“Your trick or treat bag. For people to put candy in.”
“Dinosaurs don’t have bags.”
“I know honey. But you need one for the candy.”
“I don’t want one.”
Clearly something wasn’t sinking in. “Ok. Ok. I’ll carry the bag for now. Let’s get going.”
So we did.
As John, Tess and I walked down our sidewalk to the first house, I leaned over and gave Tess her bag.
“I don’t want it.”
“I know hon. Just carry it with you. If you don’t want it after Gina’s house, you don’t have to.” She wasn’t sure, but she took it. I asked John to let Tess knock on the door for the first one and sent them down the sidewalk.
Tess stood there. John ran part way, looked around for Tess, and came back. “Come on Tess!” he said. Tess stepped a few steps. He ran up. Came back. “COME ON TESS!!” She walked slowly up to the door. John the bouncing Batman on the landing.
“Come on Tess. Knock on the door. KNOCK ON THE DOOR!” John was vibrating.
Tess leaned in and rubbed the door a bit with her knuckles. John screamed “TRICK OR TREAT!!” Tess looked at her Batman brother, baffled.
Gina opened the door and said, “What have we here?”
John yelled, “I’m Batman and Tess is a dinosaur, CAN WE HAVE CANDY?!”
Gina said, “Well, I think you have to say trick or treat, don’t you?”
John yelled again, “TRICK OR TREAT!”
“And what about you Tess?”
She looked at Gina. “No, thank you.”
John looked at her. “Tess – if you say Trick or Treat – you get CANDY!”
She looked at John. And back to Gina.
“Trick or treat.”
Gina said, “Wow – here you go.” And dropped candy into her bag.
Tess looked into her bag. And back at Gina. And into her bag. There was candy in there.
John said, “Ok Tess. Now we can go.”
I called, “What do you say John and Tess?”
Tess walked back to me. “Gina gave me candy. Do we go home now?”
“No – you can go to Linda and Neil’s house now.”
“Maybe they’re not home.”
Linda and Neil’s place was lit up like a house size Jack-O-Lantern. “I think they might be.”
I could see the wheels turn in her dinosaur head as she walked up to their sidewalk.
John knocked this time. TRICK OR TREAT. Tess looking at him. Linda opened the door. She said, “Who are you?”
“I’m Tess,” she whispered.
“I know you Tess. And what is your costume?”
“I’m a dinosaur.”
“Oh. Does your dinosaur roar?”
“No thank you.”
“Would you like some candy?”
“No thank you.”
John turned to her. “Tess – just roar – you’ll get candy.”
“Wow. That’s scary. Here you go.”
She walked back. “Linda gave me candy.”
“Try the next house.”
She walked a bit quicker this time.
John yelled TRICK OR TREAT! Tess waited. A man answered the door. Tess held out her bag. “trick or treat.” The man dropped in candy. She looked in the bag.
She came back to the sidewalk.
“Do we have to go home now?”
“No. You can keep going.”
She turned and almost trampled John, yelling half way up the sidewalk “TRICK OR TREAT!! TRICK OR TREAT!! TRICK OR TREAT!!”
She started cutting across driveways, smashing through hedges and accidentally knocking into other kids in the neighborhood.
She was like a thief who was just handed the lock combination to every bank safe in every bank on earth.
“TRICK OR TREAT!!”
“Daddy. Everyone is giving us candy.”
“I know honey. That’s the point.”
“TRICK OR TREAT!!”
It’s crazy, isn’t it? The moment a kid realizes that for this one evening – all the rules of life are off. More than Christmas. More than birthdays. Halloween makes no sense. Every other day in your life you are told to put this on, that’s not warm enough, that’s not visiting clothes, you have food on your pants, tuck in your shirt, those are inside shoes, wash your face…. But on this night it’s, “what would you like to wear? You can be an animal if you want. Or a monster. Or anything.” And you can wear crazy clothes. Crazy costumes. You can wear a dress with a monster hat. And no matter what you wear, you parents say things like: you look amazing – go look in the mirror, wow.
And on any other day – you walk down the street and you are told, “That’s not our sidewalk – that’s not our house, stay off their grass, don’t stand on their front step.” And then on this night – what do you do? You can run up to strange houses, bang on the door and scream, the people inside open the door – and they are happy you screamed – and then they give you candy. Not carrots. Not spicy food. Not clothes. Not advice. Or limits. They don’t tell you to get off the landing. They give you the only food you are guaranteed to love – candy.
And everyone plays along. Everyone opens their door. People who you never see, people who might not even like kids, everyone opens their door.
How did we get everyone to do that? How did that happen?
Is it something in us that, for one day of the year, says, “Our home is a place with the door open to anyone. A door open to anyone who wants a smile, who dresses however they want, someone with fancy clothes, someone with simple clothes, someone who has stains on their pants, someone who is quieter or louder, someone who is confident or unsure, someone who has everything going for them in their life, and someone who is struggling with everything in their life.
For one night – for one moment, everyone is generous, and everyone gets candy.
For one night – maybe – our homes are the best of what a home should be. Open. Generous. Fun. Accepting.
It is the best night of the year. Not just for a dinosaur. But for everyone. Even the dinosaurs.