Thursday, November 1, 2012

"Rick or reat!"

About a month ago, I decided I’d make Calvin’s Halloween costume for the first time.  He’s crazy about fish these days, so I figured it’d be safe to make a little goldfish costume he couldn’t possibly reject.  And, thankfully, he loved it.  As the day approached, we practiced wearing the costume to a few events we had planned with friends and family.  We talked about the concept of “trick-or-treating” but understood that it probably wouldn’t completely sink in until we were actually engaged in the act of doing so. 
On Halloween, our community organizes something called a Munchkin Masquerade where all the restaurants and shops downtown on Pearl Street hand out candy to young trick-or-treaters.  This was our first year going, and I had no idea what to expect, so I told Angus to stay at work, that I’d take Calvin down myself.  Little did I know that this event is HUGE and there are massive crowds, families dressed up in coordinating costumes, fire trucks and buses parked for kids to climb on, and gooey, sugary candy being handed out in droves.  Needless to say, I was a tad overwhelmed, and I think at a few points, namely the ones where adults in weird costumes got too close, Calvin was too.  And despite being surrounded by ghosts, monsters, and aliens on all sides, I felt strangely lonely as we meandered down the street.  There’s something about being in a crowd of people that calls to attention what or who is missing.  Maybe that’s a pessimist’s way of looking at the world, and I’ll admit, there are moments that I tend to fall a bit more on the glass-is-half-empty end of viewing things.  But, as I watched the commotion ensue around me and Calvin, I couldn’t help but miss the one who took me trick-or-treating for the first time, the one who dressed up as a scary pirate and sat on our front step, the one who made events like Halloween fun, and the one who would have eaten up every moment of yesterday –  the proud grandpa of my little fish. 
         It wasn’t just my dad that I missed.  It was that feeling of being a child and seeing my parent more excited about something than I was.  The comfort of ritual and tradition is what I found myself longing for, and part of me felt crappy for downplaying this event, for not dressing up like the other parents, for telling Angus to just skip it.  But there was a full night ahead, so I brushed it off, gave Calvin a lolli-pop and took off for home. 
When we got home after our downtown adventure, and it was nearing the time for trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, I had pizza to assemble, a house to pick-up, and friends to socialize with.  And a sweet, sweet husband, who just came off a stressful day, to hug and kiss.  Something tells me that as I did hug and kiss him, he sensed in me what I couldn’t put to words at the time.  He said with a smile, “You go trick-or-treating with him.  I’ll stay here and man the door and the pizzas.”  And what he was really saying was, “Even though I’d really like to go trick-or-treating with our son since I worked all day, you go because I know you need it right now.  Go out there and have fun with Calvin.”
         And selfishly I said, “OK…if you’re sure…” and went.
         It was magical.  That is neither an exaggeration nor a sarcastic remark.  It really was magical.  I watched my son and his friend, both freshly 2-years-old, learn house-by-house what this trick-or-treat tradition is all about.  I watched them ding doorbells, say, “Happy Hall-ween” and “Rick or Reat” and “Thank you.” I watched them boldly attempt to grab multiple pieces of candy versus one piece at the later houses and shriek with delight as they ran down the dark street.  I saw our friends’ daughter take two candies when a woman told her to take one for her mommy, which makes perfect sense as she has two mommies.  My heart wanted to reach around that small moment and protect and shout out its beauty.  I saw my son bite into a Tootsie Roll with the paper still on and drool the sticky goodness of the sugar he has so rarely tasted.  I saw neighbors and kids dressed up and heard the sounds of laughter and sugar-highs bouncing up and down the streets.
And in this magic, I saw my dad.  I realized that this is the start of where I get to be like him in all the ways that he shined brightest: exuding this excitement for childhood traditions that cannot be feigned but instead comes naturally.  This is where my children expect me to live in the moment with them and love that I actually do…or at least give it my best.  And aren’t the rewards of doing so the absolute greatest?  When I agree to play trains with my son, he does the Arsenio Hall fist pump.  When I play peek-a-boo with him, his smile is enormous when he uncovers his face.  When I eat breakfast next to him, he feeds me pieces of his precious granola.  When I read him books at bedtime, he asks for “just one more” but lets Mommy pick. 
So, this afternoon after his nap, when my son asked, “Rick or Reat?”, pointed to his fish costume, and carried around his empty candy basket, I knew he too felt the magic of last night.  He felt the magic of the moment.  He felt the magic of my dad.  Of me.  Of our family creating ritual and being together.  And that is worth everything to me.


  1. love this keri. love you guys so much!

  2. Keri, this brought tears to my eyes. I absolutely concur, Halloween was way more magical for me (and Penny) than I ever could have expected. Thank you for sharing your eloquently written thoughts and feelings.

    1. Thanks Allie. I appreciate your words so very much! Glad to be on this Mama journey with you.