The kids come wanting candy and I remember what the pastor told the children on Sunday morning.
Do you know how Halloween is like God? He asked.
This oughtta be good,I thought.
Because, he said, God tells us that all we need to do is come to him and he will give us good gifts. Just like getting candy!
I think about all the children who come by our doors, think about grace wrapped in chocolate. How really it’s so much sweeter.
Teddy has volunteered to hand out the candy this year and his little brother is at a friend’s house and I feel at a loss. We light the jack-o-lanterns and I put Lucy Mae’s costume on her but she soon runs it off. Jeff chops peppers and starts a jambalaya. The kitchen smells good but I can hear laughter outside. There’s nothing for it: as the jambalaya simmers we join Teddy on the porch. We three sit on the steps and watch as princesses and superheroes work their way up and down our street.
I still can’t get over the plain fun of this tradition. All those years of Halloween I never celebrated growing up have helped me let go of all the junk and I just hold on to this: little Sarah from down the street in her long pink ball gown and tiara. She has a matching velvet cape. There’s Connor from one street over pulling a laundry basket with wheels on it—giant stuffed dog inside. Cameron next door is running up ahead and here come those giggling teenagers who are only in it for the candy. There are pink cheeks and bright eyes and glow sticks hanging around necks. The parents troll behind calling absently for meandering children to slow up.
I give each child a word, and some of the grown-ups too. It’s getting cold so I slip inside for a flannel and Lucy, tuck her under my tails and head back out. We watch the dark fold over our little valley and the candy disappears from our bowl. I think about the Halloweens when the boys were little and their grandparents would come over so they could hand out the candy while we walked little legs around these same streets. We always had a sandwich platter and a big pot of chicken noodle soup.
Jambalaya will do fine.
Teddy was a lion that first year he could walk. He was determined to make it on his own. He didn’t even eat the candy. Our neighbors exclaimed over his cuteness and brilliant manners and now he stoops beside me to drop a candy bar into an offered bag. He’s taller than I now and I wear his old jeans around the house and buy him cologne for his birthday. Don’t tell him about the jeans…that would probably creep him out.
We sit together until it gets too cold and the streets are almost empty.
And I know it’s not perfect but there is a lot of grace here.
And it’s sweeter than chocolate.