Maybe it was growing up in Lewiston, maybe it was that I never won any awards for best costume, maybe it was that I don’t care for most candy, or maybe it was that I didn’t like to stand out as a youngster, but I have never been a big fan of Halloween.
I have for the past decade been against the decorating, costumes and handing out of candy to kids. These feeling only got worse when I bought a house on Maple St. in Bangor, the city center for festive, over-the-top insanity. I would often hold the rudeness of a few kids as reasons to dislike the day, ignoring the droves of perfectly polite children.
My wife, whose favorite holiday has long been Halloween, has unfortunately had to deal with my contempt for the day for years.The curmudgeon in me always found it to be a silly day, that celebrated nothing of meaning, instead wasting time and money while promoting vandalism and degenerate behavior.
Admittedly, there have been times I have joined in the celebration. College parties where you dress up silly and drink were always fun. But the day itself and the traditions were just never my thing.
All of that has changed for me. I am now a believer. Proudly de-curmudgeoning and jumping on the Halloween bandwagon. Why you may ask.
His love of Halloween, passed down by his wonderful mother is infectious. He talked of almost nothing but costumes, candy and trick-or-treating for a month. He helped in the decorating, loved seeing the “spooky stuff” at the stores, enjoyed the lights on people’s homes on our evening walks and had a blast carving pumpkins.
All of this helped to get me excited. My wife toiled to create the perfect costume for a boy who doesn’t like to wear hats, masks, bulky coats or capes. She spent weeks knitting him a scarf so he could go as Christoper Robin from his beloved Winnie the Pooh movie.
As a dad, it is hard not to get in the spirit when you see how much fun your family is having. It allowed me to open up to the idea that this could be a fun holiday. I relaxed a little bit about buying candy, put up decorations with minimal coaxing, made time for us to carve pumpkins as a family and got out of work early on Halloween to take part in the festivities.
The payoff was amazing. We went on a photo shoot with Tristan early in the afternoon, then had fun trick-or-treating on Bangor’s busiest street. What I did not expect was how much fun my son had while helping to hand out candy to hundreds of kids all stopping at our house.
But what may have been the most personally satisfying part was what we did after we ran out of candy. My wife suggested we take Tristan to a nursing home up the road that was giving out candy to kids from the area. Because it was getting late and the bad press the nursing home had recently received, I was hesitant but went along with the plan.
You could tell that not many people had attended but the group there was ready when Tristan showed up. He went one-by-one to each of the residents, all dressed up and ready for him in the facilities common area, and got several pieces of candy from each. He said trick-or-treat to everyone and thank you as well. He then had some punch and a cupcake while making the room full of elderly folks smile and laugh. He can be such a ham when the spotlight is on him and he did not disappoint.
As we were leaving I had the sense that we had made a serious impact on their evening just by showing up, an I was grateful to my wife for suggestion we go.
When we got home it was so much fun watching my son go though all his candy, being excited for the tootsie rolls (his favorite) and not wanting to go to bed until he ate it all. I also enjoyed my “parent tax” after he went to bed while I relaxed and watched a scary movie with my wife. I may have enjoyed his candy a bit too much as I think I had a sugar hangover the next morning.
All the positives from this year have washed away the negative connotation I have clung to and I am already looking forward to next year. I will want to go bigger with decorations, spend more time carving pumpkins and doing crafts, and maybe even wear a costume.
Holidays to me are about family, and now this one in particular holds special meaning to me, as I can see how through celebration of something as silly as dressing up for candy can bring us closer together and create memories for a lifetime.
Thank you to my son for showing me with the excitement only a child can have how much fun this day can be, and to my wife, for never giving up on a holiday I for years tried to sweep under the rug.