“One of life’s greatest joys is sharing the traditions you brought with you with new friends.”
– my friend Chris D.
Chris sent these words to me after I whined a little about Halloween and how the onset of the fall holiday season was making me homesick.
I totally agree with her. I’m happily hosting an ‘urban family’ Thanksgiving in a few weeks. I’m making plans for special celebrations for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But Halloween, because it’s one of those “eh” days, I hadn’t given it a lot of thought.
…until it arrived.
The lead-up to Halloween was quiet. I didn’t stock any candy (yay for no pre-digested Twix and Kit Kats during the entire month of Octover). I didn’t make many plans. Because of the pretty much traffic-less neighborhood we live in, we barely decorated. And the girls’ schools didn’t “do” costumes, so any ‘peer pressure’ about dressing up was lost. In fact, we probably could have ignored the whole thing. Happily, the girls chose costumes out of our rather abundant supply of dress-up clothes.
…although I did give into their request for masks and found some $1, completely irrelevant ones at the last minute:
Rod thought I was pretty funny for getting all sentimental about it, but looking back, we’ve always done Halloween kinda big with the kids.
– Miranda’s first one, when she was 11 months old and not even walking, I squeed and rejoiced over her Carman Miranda outfit.
– The following year, when KK was a non-walking baby and Randa was still a baby, they dressed together as cheerleaders (one Kentucky Wildcat, one fighting Illini) to trick-or-treat with their cousins in my grandma’s neighborhood. Then they quick-changed into Elmo and Cookie Monster for treats in out neighborhood. This was also the year we passed out ‘Rainbow Seeds’ in our attempt to reverse trick or treat, which was great. And, ‘we’ baked fairly intricate cinnamon cookies, which were supposed to be a tradition, but nobody but me really liked them.
– The following year, Rod was traveling a lot and I was in a bit of 2-toddler hell. Also, it was very cold. That said, Randa as Sleeping Beauty/Princess Aurora and KK as Minnie Mouse were quite the party-goers and for the first time, ran from house to house.
– Last year, Randa chose to be a “South-er-en” Belle and KK, Buzz, with a tutu. And last year was all about their friends.
Every year, even before we had the babies, I enjoyed putting together treat bags for the neighborhood kids or friends who would stop by especially for our house. I took to making a pot of chili and another of Cheese Dip and inviting people in.
I realized that those were the things I was going to miss…the familiarity of people just being around, the routine of people doing the same thing every year, whether those things were big or special or not.
And again, I have to stress, that though by Chicago standards we do not live far away from anything, we live enough out in the boonies from everything here than no one ever ‘happens’ by. Visits have to be intentional. I don’t like that, at all. I want random company!
Anyway, for my kids – because that is why we do pretty much everything, right? – I put on a happy face and we carved out some new traditions. (except, oops, we did not carve pumpkins this year…!)
We made a quick stop at our neighbor’s house, because we knew she’d be home and happy to see us. The girls were sure happy to accept her treats, including cookies.
Then, joined by Gramma and Papa, we headed off to Broadway at the Beach (a shopping/dining/entertainment complex for those of you not fortunate enough to live here. It also happens to be across from the theater, and we are technically part of the BATB family).
The energy there was fun, and there were a lot more people than we expected. It was a little cold by Myrtle Beach standards, but we worked one whole side, enjoying the other costumes and the girls’ exuberance at their loot (until they petered out and had to be carried, of course…)
Of course, trick-or-treating from merchants meant a few interesting pieces of loot for the mommy and daddy ~
~ and we also paused briefly for a Pat Boone F a m i l y T h e a t e r FB/PR shot (unfortunately, Rod’s eyes are closed, but I’m enjoying the strategic placement of KK & shadows making me look kinda svelt):
After we left Broadway, we headed to Seaside Presbyterian to meet up with some church friends, enjoy bounce houses, and get ‘the good candy’ – aka, chocolate.
The most important part of this scenario was “Friends.” Thanks to photo messages, I was able to enjoy my niece and my friends’ kids/kids’ friends from afar, and thanks to an understanding group of formerly-displaced pals,
I was reassured once again that making new traditions is going to work out just fine for us.
This is Soma, being goofy:
And these are 2 of the slightly-older children of our new friends, who are so sweet and patient with Randa and KK and always make them feel special:
When we got too cold to
beg play games and get candy any longer, we drove those repetitive 16ish miles back home, and had Papa’s chicken soup waiting for us:
Next year, hopefully, we will live a bit closer to our people here and I will put on the chili and the open house sign, but this year, I am grateful for every single person, near or far, who makes this Chicagolina transition a little easier for us. I might always be a little teary-eyed to celebrate anything away from people I love, but I will also always smile knowing that people we love are all around.
Now, I have to make sure Randa’s birthday party is twice as successful! Three weeks until our BABY turns FIVE!…