This is an update on our experience with the #tealpumpkinproject.
This past Friday night, after spending the afternoon (yes, I’m a procrastinator and I admit it) making a cape for our Princess’ Elsa costume that we found at the GW Boutique, we got the littles and our college girl and her suitemate all set and ready for a fun evening of trick-or-treating. The torch has been officially passed–our college girls took the littles trick or treating. The Fella joined them midway, and I got to stay home. While Tailurrr Swift and Kitty Purry (they were dressed as cats with microphones) took Elsa and Indiana Jones through the neighborhood for tricks and treats, I sat on the porch with goodies in hand. Right there next to my teal blue pumpkin.
We’ve spent the past few weeks collecting non-food treats from different places. The Halloween store at the GW Boutique turned out to be a good resource. One day I found several tubes of glow bracelets, which I thought would be fun and helpful on a dark fall evening. I planned on giving each child a bracelet and a treat from my goody bag.
As the children came and went, I fell into a routine. I let them pick out what color bracelet he or she wanted, I bent it so it would light up, and helped each one put it on. Then they got to choose something from the treat bag. What I loved the most about this whole thing was I got to visit with the children, ask each one a question or two. It wasn’t like it’s been in years past–throw a bag of pretzels or chips in their bag and send them on their way. I learned their favorite colors, and they told me about their costumes. Who they were, why they’d chosen that one, that sort of thing. I really enjoyed the visits.
There was something that circulated through social media before Halloween that touched my heart. Something about understanding that children who don’t say thank you might not be able to, children who seem disappointed might have an allergy to what you gave them, older children trick or treating–it might be the first time anyone has invited them to go.
I thought about that a lot Friday night. And because I was reminded it’s a holiday to include all, which is the premise of the #tealpumpkinproject, I was reminded to welcome all. From the boys who were taller than I am, to the high school girls who came up giggling and cute as they could be, to the little girl whose Mama apologized for her daughter not speaking at all–she does have autism. And her Mama is a loving woman who is doing a great job with her. I just wanted to hug them both.
But the best moment of the night came when a young woman, who is a senior in high school, walked up. I didn’t recognize her at first. She brought a younger girl with her. The young girl picked out a pink bracelet and a Halloween pencil (those were more popular than you’d think). I offered a bracelet to the young woman too, and she said, “Well okay, that could be fun, thanks.” As we talked I realized she lives around the corner from us. She said she was bringing her neighbor friend out because the young girl’s sister has Down’s syndrome, and she wasn’t going to be able to go otherwise. The young woman’s sister with special needs had hung with them for a few houses, but she was worn out. I offered for her to take something back to her sister, as I explained that I didn’t have any candy because of food allergies. The young woman looked over at my pumpkin and she said, “Yeah, I know about those pumpkins. I saw something about it. That is very cool.” And she threw her hand up for a high-five.
Let me tell you, I gave her one.
And then she told me that she has food allergies too. That if her sister forgets (as has happened) and eats something with peanut butter in it, and this young woman smells it, she can have a reaction. Bless her. She seems to take it in stride, but in that moment–the one where her eyes lit up and she threw her hand up in the air–I knew it meant something to her. To be included. To be acknowledged. Bless her, she may have outgrown trick or treating, but I hope that she and I both will see a world where there are teal blue pumpkins everywhere on Halloween and, more importantly, that folks understand that these allergies are not just in the heads of folks, but something very life or death real.
She was more animated as we talked than I have ever seen her when we’ve chatted as I’ve taken Miss Sophie out for her walkabouts.
I think it had something to do with being seen and heard and validated.
But it might have been the bracelet.
After all, those things are pretty cool.
When I set out to do non-food treats and be a part of the #tealpumpkinproject this year, I did it for my Princess, so she’d feel respected and know she’s not the only one. I had no idea if there were any other children we’d come across in our area who would benefit or even appreciate not getting candy bars or suckers or Twizzlers or the like. I said to myself that even if it helped only one to feel included, then it was worth all the time and effort of tracking down the treats.
After the happy Mama of the girl with autism expressed her delight (her daughter had already had enough sugar she said) and seeing the smiling faces of little ones as their bracelets started to glow, the young woman with the nut allergies was icing on the cake. She has a sweet and giving spirit to take her sister and neighbor friend trick or treating. I was honored to get to visit with someone so compassionate at such a young age. She is going places, and her generosity gives me hope for our future. She was my one–besides my own girl–the one whom I did this for. And I am thankful for her face lighting up and for that high-five.
All. Completely. Worth. It.
I’m off to bag up what we have left for next year. That’s the bonus in all of this. No candy to tempt me, and I have a head start on next year’s treats. Well, except for those pencils. I think someone eats those things around here, and I don’t mean the dog. Yeah, they’ll never last until next year.
Here’s to a holiday that includes everyone! My heart is full.
Love to all.
My heart has been touched by how many of you have commented and shared the story of including a teal pumpkin in your Halloween festivities. I cannot fully express in words how much that means to me. Thank you for including all and loving on folks. You are my heroes–stepping outside yourselves and what’s easy and always been done to make a difference. Love.