Seize the, um, Halloween

31 Oct


Even in Australia you can’t really miss that it is October 31st

Halloween folks. We don’t really do it that well here but it is a growing trend.
There really just aren’t enough chances to dress up these days.
The parents with younger children in our neighbourhood put very polite notices in our letterboxes last week with a sort of  “Halloweeners Welcome Here” sign for us if we wanted to participate in the street scramble for lollies.

I can never resist these opportunities and I found some very old tatty black curtains and some ghostly stickers at the supermarket and hung them across the gate…

Desperate to do something a little more celebratory, I lit a garden oil lamp, a la Hawaii, at the steps and happily stuck my welcome note to the fence…I swear if I could have found a witch’s costume I would have donned it for the occasion.
I bumped into a Dad coming home from work early to be part of the frivolity and took a minute to reflect what a good idea that was.
I thought of the children coming home from school and jumping excitedly into their costumes and from 4.00 o’clock I could hear them shouting and practising their scary sounds in the street gardens. Dad’s arrival was clearly the cue for the fun to start.
The children exploded onto the street, their joyful noise, youthfulness and enthusiasm trailing them like a comet’s tail. I fought back the urge to travel along in their wake and soak it up, like a thirsty desert wanderer shaking the last drop of water from the canteen. But my place was to wait for them, time has moved on.

Before I knew it they were upon me.

Ghouls, zombies, princesses, devils and ghosts they stood before me growling their scariest growls. The prize was nigh…a scramble into the bowl of lollies and chocolates bound to have them on a sugar high right on bedtime.

“Guys, just two each,” urged the Dad,  I gently but firmly overrode this suggesting that I had ample for a scoop each…it was fine.

Before I knew it the pandemonium had passed and they had been and gone.

I couldn’t help but think that our children are a bit like that.

They swirl into our existence, from some outrageous and unlikely coincidence of  creation.  A bundle of stardust and flesh and blood with a spark of the divine.

They bring utter chaos, and a depth of love unimaginable. They make us braver, happier, sadder and more capable than we ever dreamed was possible. And then they are gone. And our job, if we have done it well, is to sit back and watch and offer counsel only when it is asked for.

Like my trick or treaters, we have them for the blink of an eye.

I think of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, as he reflects on the empty spaces in his garden where his children used to play,

“ …it is but a child of air that lingers in the garden there…”.

Don’t get me wrong, this does not make me sad, but it does make me reflect on how fleeting much of life is, not a new thought of course but one I am happy to discover anew, on Halloween.


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