Hats and Capes and Striped Socks, Oh My!

Today was the culmination of over two months of “I’m gonna be a…..” and “Do you think we can find a ______ so I can be _______ for Halloween?”

Two months.

And now it’s done.  Tomorrow I will put away my bargain jack o’lanterns and the leftover treats until next year.  (That’s the beauty of the Teal Pumpkin Project and non-food treats–the leftovers keep beautifully!)  The costumes will be washed and hung up or tossed in the dress up bin.

Our Princess knew pretty much from the get go that she wanted to be a witch.  She had a dress that we got last year when she thought she might want to be Bellatrix Lestrange.  Now was all about accessorizing.  Some bright striped socks with WITCH written down the side.  A fun little broom and gloves with long fingernails on them.  She was so excited she got dressed up by 2 pm.  Cooter, on the other hand, has been most indecisive.  This was the year we discovered that we didn’t need to purchase him the one piece whole body suits anymore.  Each one we tried pulled in areas that don’t need pulling.  In the end, it was decided he’d either wear one of his old Star Wars dress up outfits or this one piece Superman top/cape thing or–and this was my favorite–be a Hobbit.  He asked about being one two months ago, and I thought that would be so much fun.  I even found a top for him to wear and planned to cut an old pair of khakis just so, but no.  He was most comfortable wearing a t-shirt and jeans with his Superman top/cape on.

And so it was.

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The magic of hats and capes–so much fun!

There is something so magical about dressing up and becoming someone else for a night, isn’t there?  There must be or else this holiday would have long become nothing but a blip in the history books.  It’s about imaginations and taking on a different form.  I even got into the fun of it this year.

I am so in love with these socks, y'all!  All three of them. *sigh*

I am so in love with these socks, y’all! All three of them. *sigh*

I love Raggedy Ann.  It goes way back.  So when I found a beautiful brand new, unopened Raggedy Ann costume at the GW Boutique, I got it.  I still wasn’t sure if I was going to dress up, but it was too fabulous to leave there.  When I got it home and opened everything up, I was amazed by the detail–the dress and apron, the bloomers, and a hat with red yarn hair.  There were even socks–only, of course, there were THREE and not the proper two because Someone has a sense of humor and knows my frustration with socks who’ve lost their mates.  And so this one came with one what had done just that–lost its mate.  *sigh*

After Mess Cat, Leroy, and Shaker got here to join in the fun, I finally decided that YES, I would dress up.  After all, Halloween is once a year, and a year’s a long time to regret something that would be so easy to make happen.

And so I did.

And I had a blast.

My favorite moments were seeing the very small ones who took in my costume and were in awe and then smiled and waved.  LOVE.  Absolutely precious.  I was like a rock star.  For toddlers.  Not too bad for a GW-on-sale costume.  As for the older ones, they smiled sometimes too.  One even asked, “Are you that girl from Wendy’s?”  Sigh. “No, I’m a doll.”  “Ohhhh, one of those Lalaloopsy’s?”  Umm, no.  Oh well.  Did I mention I rocked it with the younger crowd?

Tonight there were also other special moments.  The little Peter Pan who came up and when I spoke to him, his Mama said, “Oh, he doesn’t talk much.”  Because of compassionate friends who have shared the stories of sweet children who are non-verbal and how they experience Halloween, I was able to talk with him and hopefully ease his parents’ concerns that someone would say “No treat for you until you say the magic words–trick or treat!”  He was so sweet, and his parents deserve an extra hug.

I saw families dressed up together.  The whole Incredible family stopped by.  A barista stopped by who couldn’t have been more than eight.  I LOVED her clever costume.  She said it was her own idea.  There were more than a few folks with those scary skeletal masks paired with a cute costume.  Two young boys wore those really scary masks and walked around slowly, saying nothing.  That was a bit eerie until I heard the voice of a young boy say, “Trick or treat! Happy Halloween!”

No.  All is not as it seems on Halloween.

This guy was a little--okay, a lot--scary until he reached in his basket and offered some treats.

This guy was a little–okay, a lot–scary until he reached in his basket and offered some treats.

As I wrapped up the night and was about to turn off my porch light, a few more young people came.  They were older, and I was happy to see them.  Earlier today at the pumpkin patch a father stood with three children, an older teen and two who were young teens.  They were all about the costumes and pictures and the fun and I wondered if this was their first experience ever with something like this.  I often think about that and wonder if that is the case when a teenager or even young adult comes up on my porch with a jovial, “Trick or Treat!”  Is it that they didn’t get to do this when they were young?  Or are they, like I was this year, enchanted by the magic and the mystery and the fun and just really need to find that inner child for a night?

Either way, treat it is.

My last two visitors were anywhere from 16 to 18. They had on jeans and t-shirts and tiny little witch hats on their heads.  “Could we have just one piece of candy?” one asked, almost apologetically.  The other shared, “I’m sorry we are so late.  We were at the house, giving out candy, and so we didn’t have time for a costume or anything, we’re just out here like this.”

Oh bless.  I think they were adorable.  And they looked like young people cloaked in kindness to me.

And since I didn’t have any candy to share, I gave them a slap bracelet AND a wall ninja.  Because I was really impressed.  (And I felt bad that I didn’t have the one thing they had asked for.)

Tonight I’m thankful for all the little faces I got to see and meet tonight.  Staying home on Halloween and handing out goodies is my favorite part of the whole night. I’m glad that I went ahead and broke my costume in this year.  Aub says Halloween is the only time I should wear it, but it was really comfortable, and I felt pretty awesome in it, and a year’s a long, long time to wait, don’t you think?

Love and magical wishes to all.

The Happiness of the Blue Pumpkin

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.

The Halloween treat bag.....

The Halloween treat 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.

Bless her.

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.

 

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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.  

 

I Love That Wonky Pumpkin

Today our Princess decided it was pumpkin carving day.

She has been so excited about the prospect since she picked hers out at the Pumpkin Patch last Saturday.  Then on Thursday we found a pumpkin carving kit at the GW Boutique.  That thing has been burning a hole in her proverbial pocket ever since.

Today was the day.

I get it.  This is the first time she’s ever carved a pumpkin.

Mine too, as best as I can remember.

I have a vague recollection of Mama cleaning one out and carving it many, many years ago when I was very small.  My thinking is, after being a part of the carving today, that it was just too messy for her to want to deal with, what with four small children underfoot.

We all gathered out on the front porch as Princess traced a circle with a Sharpie around the top for the cut out.  Her friend Miss C was over, and she liked to offer her guidance.  *ahem*  I gently suggested that maybe she could let our girl do it her own way since I assumed Miss C had already carved her own (and expertly so, I’m thinking, from the suggestions she offered).  She graciously backed off with the suggestions for a few minutes but was sure to inform me that she was going to carve hers later tonight.

As my girl worked on cutting a hole in the top of the pumpkin with the orange tool that had all the sharpness of a dull butter knife, she chattered away happily.  Life is such a dream for this child of mine.  Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily.  Everything is the “best ever,” and today was the best ever because she was carving her very own pumpkin by her very own self for the very first time.  Ever.

She’s pretty awesome like that.  I think she got it from my Mama.  That whole “finding so much joy in everything” thing.

After scooping out the innards, something she let her friend help her with, she was ready to design the face.  She drew triangles on, again with the Sharpie, which in hindsight might not have been the best idea.  When one was a little higher and bigger than the other, she tried to redraw it, not realizing at first that redrawing wouldn’t help.  The lines would still be there.  Her friend made one suggestion after the other.  I was about to interject again, when my girl said, “No, it’s okay, thanks though.  I like the way it looks.  They eyes will just look a little creepier and spookier this way.”

I am so proud of her.  So secure and confident in what she was creating.

I’m proud of me too.

I didn’t say one word as she drew the nose.  “I want it to be a square,” she said.  And the next thing I know, this “mouth-sized” rectangle was sitting below the two wonky eyes.  I so wanted to suggest she make it into the mouth and not worry about a nose, but I didn’t.  This is huge for me.  My Joyful friend and I used to congratulate each other when we let our children create without all the assistance and guidance (okay, we were intent on redoing the whole thing) when Aub and her girls were little.  So to be able to sit back and enjoy the creation and keep my mouth closed?

HUGE.

Her friend actually did suggest the whole make it a mouth and create a smaller nose above it idea.  Wondering how my girl would react, I again sat back and listened.

Princess did not disappoint.  “No, I really want to make the mouth below there.  And I like the nose.  Lots of light will show through.”

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And she carved away.

The only thing I had to help her with (don’t judge me please) was getting the mouth out without losing the teeth.  She hadn’t cut it quite all the way through and it threatened to turn into a crescent shaped mouth.  But she had carved the teeth, so I wanted her to have them.  A few more sawing motions and gently sliding it out, voila!

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Done.

Mr. Jack O’ Lantern was finished.  A bit wonky, but that only makes him creepier.  And spookier.

Don’t you think?

Tonight I’m thankful for the privilege of raising these precious children.  I’m thankful for this middle one who is as full of sweetness as she is spunk, which makes for a sparkling combination.  I give thanks that she is confident and creative and strong, and I am happy she can hear criticism and kindly continue doing her own thing.  Most of all, I’m happy that what made her most excited about creating her very own jack o’lantern all by her very own big self was putting a light in it and watching it shine in the darkness.

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Because you know what?  She has a gift for that.  Letting her light shine, especially in the hard and sad times.

She got that from my Mama too.

Love to all.