It seems like yesterday when our two youngest children, Mia and Maddux, were 3-and-5-years old.
One of the most annoying, yet now that I look back on it, endearing memories I recall involves their constantly begging me by the 4th of July to put up the Halloween decorations. Their enthusiasm and persistence paid off by the beginning of August, when I reluctantly gave them permission to decorate the INSIDE of the house with the beloved Halloween village and assortment of pumpkins, ghosts and goblins we’d collected (mainly with the help of grandparents).
The two kids spent hours that year drawing up plans for intricate indoor haunted houses, dreaming up a Halloween party (including décor and menu) with neighborhood friends, and of course mentally counting all of the candy they would receive from strangers during the one special night of the year.
Maddux and Mia’s most cherished holiday tradition developed that year as well, and it came in the form of helping others. You see, during our first trick or treat in Texas we came upon a stunning yard display at a home in a neighboring development which literally went “all out.” It was (and still is) the epitome of the phrase things are bigger in Texas when it comes to Halloween decorations.
In fact, when we rounded the corner and saw this particular home for the first time, I thought Maddux (a huge fan of skeletons and all things scary), was going to hyperventilate with excitement. He didn’t want to leave their yard; he was so fascinated by the elaborate displays and vignettes. There was a table of skeletons sitting and playing cards, a mystic fortuneteller whose head erupted from the center of a card table, a large graveyard scene, a wicked witch brewing poisonous stew, and smoke machines, scary background music, as well as oodles of tiki lights pitched among the yard to cast an unending eerie glow. On top of that was mixed in a smattering of plastic rats for good creepy measure.
When we finally pried the two kids away from the yard, my husband suggested to Maddux that he write the homeowners a letter telling them how much he loves Halloween and asking if he could help them decorate the following year. Maddux decided it was a great idea and set to work crafting his request. We placed the letter in their mailbox the week following Halloween and shortly thereafter Maddux received a call from Bill, the home’s owner.
Bill was SO excited and impressed by Maddux’s letter! And, because Bill and his wife Beth have three girls, he also said he’d be tickled to have a boy like Maddux come and share his Halloween excitement the following year.
A tradition was born!
This will be Maddux’s ninth year helping decorate Bill and Beth’s yard. My husband and Mia have also joined in the fun. Each year, about this time, the excitement begins to build (fortunately for me as they’ve gotten older they no longer insist on decorating for Halloween while it’s still a hundred degrees outside). Bill has even gone so far as to mark my kid’s height on their garage wall every year. How fun for them to see how much they’ve grown since the previous year and since they began this fun tradition!
Bill and Beth have such an elaborate scene in front of their home they need dozens of yearly helpers. Everyone shows up in the spirit of ushering in the cooler weather and bringing the Halloween spirit alive once again. My kids enjoy helping them so much we’ve expanded our volunteering to include clean up at a local church on Thanksgiving, and serving meals to the less fortunate on Christmas Eve as well.
We’re heading in to a terrific family time of year, not that anyone needs an excuse to spend time with loved ones while carrying out special traditions. May you and your family enjoy the change of season, and may my story inspire you to find a way to help others in our community!
Kim Muench is a married mother of five children living in Flower Mound. A certified parenting coach, her passion lies in supporting and encouraging parents of adolescents. To read more of her work, or to learn about her parenting program, go to www.realifeparentguide.com.