I know it’s getting annoying, but I’m just going to beat the Halloween drum for a wee bit more. “Do we know what we’re actually celebrating here?”, Joel asks and I give him some vague ‘it’s pagan’ answer, like it’s so self-explanatory he’s wasting my time. (Is it pagan?)
The point is, it’s not what we celebrate but the act of celebrating that makes it mean something.
Three days ago, I was driving home from somewhere and a few streets from our house, we passed a witch strung up on a pole like she’d crashed into it with a sign saying “Beware: Low-Flying Witches”. The next day, near the first witch, we saw four witches had been erected on a grassy strip, garbage bags tied to each other like the witches were holding hands and in the middle of their circle was a ‘cauldron’ full of water and leaves and rocks.
And you know what happened in our neighbourhood?
Kids and their parents would go on evening walks to see them. Cars would stop and take photos, conversations ignited between strangers. The postman, after delivering our mail, asked if we’d seen the witch displays and told us about the houses that were being decorated and ‘we’re having a big sausage sizzle this year for the kids — we live in a caul de sac and everyone puts balloons out and it’s such a great day’. Our neighbours across the street and people from down the road would pass us while we were outside playing, asking if we’d seen the witch displays and pondering who exactly – which mystery person – set them up. Was it that house along Eagle terrace with the big spider out the front? Maybe it was that house on Rainbow street with the giant bats? Have you heard anything? Did you see anything? Neighbourhood kids got excited, sensing there was a touch of magic in the air.
And so, it doesn’t really matter what it is we are celebrating — what matters is that these small, silly things bring people together. Whoever snuck out and set up those witches is spreading joy over our entire neighbourhood.
People-joiners and joy-spreaders. Where do I sign up?
When Joel got home from work, the kids were beside themselves discussing the witch displays and showing him photos and when we headed out, we drove past them so he could see. The next day, he sent me a text asking if we had garbage bags and ‘maybe I could make some of those witches, too’. Obviously, I just about fell off my chair. He then said, “You also might be pleased to know that I’m looking forward to getting things ready tomorrow and am excited for the pumpkin party on the weekend! Who knows, I may even get into Christmas too.”
Folks, the festive spirit lives on.
Yesterday we spent the whole day creating our pumpkin patch for the kids’ pumpkin carving party, upgraded to epic proportions because Joel was on board. When Joel gets excited, anything is possible. Our kids danced on the truck and we carved pumpkins and we picked up more hay bales. Everyone out walking their dogs stopped and gushed over our efforts and the kids across the street came over to play on the truck and see all the decorations. Our old neighbours popped by to check it all out and ending up staying for dinner. By evening, when the fairy lights were on and there was that magic glow to things, cars would slow down and pull over, windows would come down and I’d look at Joel all starry eyed and say, “We’re spreading so much joy, you know” and he’d say, “I know, Rach. I know.”
Small (Big) Happies, Halloween edition:
Evening post-rain walks to the witch display.
Carving our pumpkins.
Yesterday a woman from our neighbourhood out walking her dog stopped by as we were setting up. She has kids of her own but they’re all grown up now and she often stops and asks after my kids, gushes over how much they’ve grown, tells stories of her own. She told us she was impressed by our decorating efforts and I told her how great it was this year now that Ella is really getting into it. “We might be going overboard”, I said, “but it’s just too fun not to.” And she said, “You know, go for it. Do it while you can.”
And in those five words, I heard what I always hear: It goes so fast. They grow up so quick. Time is so fleeting.
And so I landed where I always land: right where I am with these two children, with this man by my side, in this precious pocket of childhood, writing these tiny family stories that will one day span my entire life. And like always, I got choked up and after the woman left, I said through tears to Joel, “You know, these are the days we’ll remember on our death bed. Right now with our tiny children, carving pumpkins, all together.” And Ella – always one to be concerned when people are upset – grabbed my face with her two hands and said, “Mummy? Are you crying?”.
“Oh God”, Joel muttered, and I explained that I was just so happy and that’s why I was crying. It was confusing to everyone really, but the point is this: Find any reason to be together. To celebrate something. To make something meaningful.
Do it while you can.
Happy Halloween eve, friends.