I may as well let you know right now, we are not the good little Christian family who dutifully disapproves of all things Halloween. We are not even the quasi-good Christian family who chooses a healthy and safe alternative church carnival event with a title like Hallo-lujah. We've tried those. We pretty much hate them. I''m sorry.
My husband and I both grew up in solid Christian homes and still went trick-or-treating every year. It was the 70's. Christians where we lived apparently didn't know that we were supposed to ban such activities. We just knew that it is really fun to wear silly costumes and collect obscene quantities of candy for free. The Halloweens of my childhood are among my favorite memories.
Living in the country, there are not options for trick-or-treating near our house, but we do live near a very quaint and sleepy little small town, where it is quite safe to go from door to door. So we took the kids out tonight for the annual candy haul, wherein they put on costumes and we march them from house to house until we feel like they have a sufficient amount of good candy (read: chocolate-based) for us to collect a hefty stash of our own in the form of parental taxes and fees.
Actually, we won't be raking in as much for ourselves this year, as Tano didn't walk around with us. Having hit the ninth grade this year and everything that comes with being a wanna-be cool high school guy, he surprised us tonight as we got ready to go out (in his terrible Joker costume with very disturbing makeup that I was NOT pleased with, but a little proud of the techniques he is learning) by asking if he could just get dropped off at the gas station so he could go hang out with his friends. We both remember walking around with our friends for Halloween at that age, too, so it wasn't too terrible of a shock, just a little jolting, but the bigger concern was how it would effect our tax collection. We headed to the car, feeling a bit worried, and noticed that he wasn't carrying a bucket--our better yet, a pillow case.
"Did you forget something to collect candy in, son?"
"Nah. I have big pockets in my trench coat, so I'll just put candy in those."
"Those pockets won't hold much!" I tried to keep the panic from rising in my voice.
"That's ok. My friends and I aren't really into trick-or-treating that much. I don't really need a big ol' stash of candy. We're just going to hang out."
Hang out? What good does that do me? Have we taught this child nothing?
I was disappointed, to say the least, but I let it go. Somebody had to be the grown-up after all.
At least we still had Ellie. She was dressed in a costume she had designed herself a couple of weeks ago at Goodwill--the thrift store where most of our favorite items have come from. She was a white woman from Africa, complete with a very African-looking dress, colorful costume jewelry and a contrasting colored turban wrapped high upon her head. But the best part was the basket perched atop the turban, held in place with a little hidden engineering magic so that it looked as if she was balancing it precariously for the whole evening. When someone came to the door with candy (and invariably laughed and oohed and aahed over her very unique costume), she would bend at the knees, back still straight and head erect, and ask them to place the candy in her basket. After thanking them politely, she would rise carefully, make a bit of small talk and then walk off into the night with perfect posture. Everyone stayed at the door and stared as she walked away. Many called for other family members to come to the door to look at the girl with the basket on her head.
"Harold, come here and see this girl with the basket on her head! Hurry--she's leaving! She had me put the candy right into the basket and look how she balances..." Their voices would fade into the night as we would walk on to the next house, all of us smiling in the darkness between porch lights.
The girl raked in some serious candy. I think people just wanted to see if the basket would tip, because rather than a single Snickers bar, they would dig into their candy bowls and come out with huge fistfuls of candy, dump it into the basket, gasp and giggle, then double dip and dump a second handful in, muttering about how clever she was and how she deserved more.
Andy and I, standing back at the curb generally, would exchange a tiny high-five and begin tallying the fees that would be assessed. The basket occasionally got too heavy and we would each have to fill our coat pockets until they were overflowing, then make a trip back to the car just to unload before heading back to find more streets dotted with porch lights. "Chocolate sure can get heavy," she groaned at one point and I was struck by the fact that I'd rarely ever heard such a lovely sentence spoken. I am a genuine word nerd and THAT, friends, was a marvelous use of language. It was a beautiful evening.
By the time we got home and Ellie sat down to sort through her stash (just the way I used to do as a kid--warms my heart), she had seventeen Snickers bars. And the Snickers were not disproportionate to the rest of the stash. The only candy items, in fact, that didn't seem to occur in the same numbers as previous years were the junk candies--there were very few suckers, only three rolls of Smarties, two packets of SweetTarts and NO LaffyTaffies! Score! Nobody in our home really cares about anything other than the chocolates anyway. It was a banner year.
The kids are now jittering happily in their beds and I am trying to make my way slowly through a bag of M&Ms. It's not really working, but I am trying. Or rather...I tried. Oh, well.
So that brings me back to the present, Day 31 of this project. I had big plans to wax eloquently tonight about the lessons learned by pursuing something whole-heartedly for an entire month and writing about it daily. I was even going to bring in verses from the Bible about pressing on toward the goal and all that, but I'm giving all that up. Blame it on the M&Ms.
I'm ready to move on. Quite honestly, as much as I am pleased with the progress I've made emerging from my chaos, I am really tired of writing about the same subject every single cotton-pickin' day. I like to write. I really like to write. I like to write almost as much as I like Snickers bars (whoa), but I don't prefer to just be informative. I like to tell stories. They can be true stories, fictional stories, stories that make you snort with laughter and spit out your tea, stories that make you weep on and off for the rest of the day, stories that inspire you, stories that fill you with courage, stories that fill you with compassion. Writing about house-cleaning and pages of goals on the refrigerator and making sure dinner is in the crock-pot on busy volleyball or filmmaking class nights just doesn't do much for me. I doubt it does much for you either, but that's where we were this month and I decided to play by the rules I had placed upon myself.
Now, it's done. Over. History.
My life is changed for the better, yes, and I hope yours is, too. I have established some better habits and transformed my home into someplace pleasant. I have decluttered my mind and started behaving less like an overgrown, undisciplined teenager. That's all good.
But now it's time to move on to the really good stuff.
I have stories to write. I have a life to live, which is a story in itself that I try to write, one post at a time.
I have books in my head that need to come out. Some of them are desperately clawing at me from the inside, in fact, and it's getting uncomfortable.
You know what I figured out this month? I did a little computation work and found what my average word-count-per-column-inch is in this blog format. Then I tallied up my column inches, subtracted for photos and dead spaces, and calculated what I've written here this month.
Approximately 26,000 words.
I wrote 26,000 words by blogging for an average of an hour per day for 31 days, complete with background distractions like a World Series baseball game on the TV in the same room and kids that are up out of bed because they are still hungry and laundry loads that need to be moved to the dryer. 26,000 words is a quarter of the way to a standard novel, a third of the way to a standard non-fiction book, and half of the way to a standard e-book--in an hour a day for a month without really trying that hard!
I can do this. I have stuff to write. I have books that are already partly written--one that is more than half-written.
I am moving on. I have stories to tell. I have an adoption to pursue. I have events to plan. I have a recently decluttered life to maintain. I will post here frequently, but just because I like to do it, not because I am being held to a schedule, so if you are a new reader, be sure to still check in once in a while. I guarantee it will be more interesting than updates on whether or not my floor got swept.
Emerging from the chaos is a beautiful thing, friends. It has left me inspired and full of energy to get out there and tackle the rest of life with the same type of dedication.
Or maybe it's just the M&M's.
Love to you all.