“I walked over to the hill where we used to go and sled. There were a lot of little kids there. I watched them flying. Doing jumps and having races. And I thought that all those little kids are going to grow up someday. And all of those little kids are going to do the things that we do. And they will all kiss someone someday. But for now, sledding is enough. I think it would be great if sledding were always enough, but it isn't.”
They bus in. Literally hundreds of them. The streets are lined with cars. Little red wagons are overloaded. Strollers carry the entire family as mom and dad push them from house to house. Sometimes a wine glass can be seen in the hands of the parents. Flashlights light up the street like fireflies. Carefully the parents wrangle their little ones to the next door. Dads can be seen choosing the next ‘perfect’ house. The streets are alive. I sit at home without a single trick or treater ringing my door. In fact, I don’t even have a potential ghost or goblin preparing for the night. But I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember the organization needed to haul my little ones around in our red wagon. I remember timing dinner and forcing them to eat before the big outing, as they anxiously waited until the sun went down to begin their hunt. I remember the hours of choosing the perfect costume. I remember mapping the perfect routes. I remember pulling my Parker home in a red wagon because he simply couldn’t walk another step in his Superman outfit. Once home I remember the piles of candy poured out on the floor as they counted their prizes. I remember getting home in time to hand out candy to the ‘older’ teens that would come out and think ‘ya, they are a little too old to be trick or treating’, but would gladly hand over the goods. I remember being so glad that Halloween was over. I remember being exhausted from the night. We quickly adopted a tradition of going to our neighborhood ‘Bloody Bistro’, which was actually a house full of actors that created an elaborate Halloween set each year. I could also recite exactly which houses handed out glasses of wine to the parents, which was always my favorite neighbors. I remember loading up the golf cart when they were older so that we could hit more houses in less time. As I write this I can hear the shreaks and laughter of children in the neighborhood. I remember what it felt like when Halloween meant something different than it means to me today. I see the faces of the parents walking with their children and I want to place my hands around their cheeks and say “Cherish this. Cherish this with all your heart”. Every step. Every doorbell ring. Every piece of candy. Every piggy back ride around the block. Every little costume. I want them to know that their little monster or Superman or ballerina or cowboy will grow into an adult someday. I want them to know how quickly that ‘someday’ comes. I want them to know that someday they will be sitting home on Halloween and hear the sounds of young families out their door and will remember. I caught a glimpse of a family on a golf cart tonight. The dad drove their three kids in the back of the golf cart. The children appeared exhausted. The dad was driving fast, as if to race to get home, and probably trying to catch the last half of a Monday night football game. But one little boy in the back sat slouched over his bag of loot in a giant old man mask. I thought to myself, yup they age THAT fast. Before you know it. Before you even realize it.
I have walked through many lives so far on this journey called life. I have nursed babies that turned into toddlers that learned how to walk, then learned how to drive, then drove away. When you are in the midst of being a young family all you ever want is for them to grow up so that you can have some time to yourself. You are so over the diapers and the bottles, dishes and drama, the homework and teenage years. You long for more time alone. Until you actually wake up one day and you are what you wished all those years for: alone. And you quietly open a fun sized Snicker bar and prepare to dress your dog up as a football player and remember the days that passed by in the blink of an eye.