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Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Tonight is the night for spooky costumes, trick or treaters and more candy received than dentists would ever desire people to eat.

atticusI have endearing memories of being at my grandmother’s house on Halloween night, helping her to hand out candy (and hoping she didn’t hand it all out, because I was more than willing to take it all off of her hands).

I remember her holding the candy hostage until the spooky visitor told her their name, and whether or not they lived on her her road (and, sometimes, who their parents were). She loved this opportunity to get to know her little neighbours.

I remember those dressed up like cute butterflies, pirates, firefighters and princesses. Then there were the ones that were taller, older, and had masks that completely hid their identity from us. Those were the ones that I felt more fearful and hesitant about letting into my grandmother’s home.

But, after my grandmother would ask her questions, once we knew it was the teen from the farm next door, or so-and-so’s grandson, or a stranger who slipped off their mask to smile and introduce themselves, all was well.

You see, the mask they were wearing was not who they really were, and once that mask was off, or the wearer identified, relationship entered the picture.

But, that was not the sole responsibility of the wearer of the mask.

You see, in my ignorance, I had pre-judged the individuals before my grandmother got to them. I saw them as scary, a threat, and I was wrong.

Last week I was wrong about someone, and I love it when I am wrong!

At the beginning of the school year I met dozens of students for the first time, and without intending to, I pre-judged them, according to their words and body language.

One student, in particular, I pre-judged as one who would not accept help, who felt they did not need help, who felt they did not need a learning support block.

In the past few weeks, I have seen a change akin to the metamorphic changes leading to the emergence of a butterfly from it’s cocoon. This student has accepted assistance, worked collaboratively with another student, and has even asked for help in understanding the next unit in a subject.

I was so wrong! And I am so glad.

So, was I just wrong? I don’t think so.

You see, what changed was that, in the beginning, I judged only from what I saw and heard. Much like the trick-or-treaters, when they first walked into my grandmothers house. It was not until I asked questions, in order to get to know this student, that I began to understand who this student really was … on the inside … under the mask that we all wear.

Relationship is what makes the difference in knowing and understanding people.

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Did you buy your Halloween treats yet? Did you have to go buy them again, because you them all the first time?

I didn’t buy any! This year I have volunteered to help out at a family fun night, rather than my usual tradition of walking my kids around the neighborhood, or handing out goodies at my door. But, my heart will be divided, as trick-or-treating is such a great opportunity to connect with those closest in your community.

Today I am re-posting my Halloween post from last year. Have a good and safe day and night, whatever you may choose to do.

Halloween is, at the very least, an odd celebration.

Children dress up (that is not odd),

go to the homes of strangers (children are generally taught to not speak to strangers),

and say trick-or-treat (threatening their neighbors)

as a means of getting free candy (back to the ‘stranger danger’ point from earlier),

then the taking candy from strangers (something we do not want little children to do).

I am very aware of the pagan, and even satanic background to this celebration, in the past as well as today. I am also aware that the day (and night) can become a night of mischief and illegal activities. In one of the homes we once lived, I would pray for rain, so as to hinder the throwing of firecrackers over houses.

But, my own childhood memories of Halloween center around my grandmother, who I remember spending that night with many times as a kid.

She was a woman who was active in her neighborhood, her church and her family, and she saw Halloween night as an opportunity to see how much the children in the neighborhood had grown since the Halloween before. No trick-or-treat-er was given a smidgen of candy until they had revealed their name, and where they lived. And if they were not from her neighborhood, they got less candy! Plus, once she shut the door, she would grumble about the “nerve of those outsiders, coming to take all our candy from the mouths of the local children.” Ah Gram, and she had an opinion about older trick-or-treat-ers too.

My Gram made the night a fun one for me. I would help her pack the little paper bags full of candy, and get together her penny collection for the kids who would come to the door with the orange UNICEF boxes.

While I was doing this, Gram would be rifling through her costumes, to choose a mask to wear, as she greeted kids at the door. It didn’t matter what mask she wore, it would be accompanied by the same whiny, high pitched fake voice. My personal favorite mask was one of Casper the Ghost. It was similar to the one to the left, distinct enough to know who it was, but friendly looking.

And that is what Halloween was, for me, as a child. People carved pumpkins to look like … jack-o-lanterns, rang the doorbells of the neighbors they knew so well, shared a few sweet candies, and acted silly. All was done in a friendly, jovial manner.

As I see the houses decorated today with lights, sound and tombstones, see the costumes that are more ghostly than friendly, and hear of the illegal and immoral acts of the ‘season’ I miss what I experienced as a child, but am thankful for a neighborhood where the night is still jovial, and many of the trick-or-treat-ers have rung my doorbell before, asking if a certain someone in our home could come out to play.

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Halloween is, at the very least, an odd celebration. Children dress up (that is not odd), go to the homes of strangers (children are generally taught to not speak to strangers), and say trick-or-treat (threatening their neighbors) as a means of getting free candy (back to the ‘stranger danger’ point from earlier, then add on the taking candy from strangers which we do not want little children to do).

I am very aware of the pagan, and even satanic background to this celebration, in the past as well as today. I am also aware that the day (and night) can become a night of mischief and illegal activities. In one of the homes we once lived, I would pray for rain, so as to hinder the throwing of firecrackers over houses.

But, my childhood memories of Halloween center around my grandmother, who I remember spending that night with many times as a kid.

She was a woman who was active in her neighborhood, her church and her family, and she saw Halloween night as an opportunity to see how much the children in the neighborhood had grown since the Halloween before. No trick-or-treat-er was given a smidgen of candy until they had revealed their name, and where they lived. And if they were not from her neighborhood, they got less candy! Plus, once she shut the door, she would grumble about the “nerve of those outsiders, coming to take all our candy from the mouths of the local children.” Ah Gram,  she had an opinion about older trick-or-treat-ers too.

My Gram made the night a fun one for me. I would help her pack the little paper bags full of candy, and get together her penny collection for the kids who would come to the door with the orange UNICEF boxes.

While I was doing this, Gram would be rifling through her costumes, to choose a mask to wear, as she greeted kids at the door. It didn’t matter what mask she wore, it would be accompanied by the same whiny, high pitched fake voice. My personal favorite mask was one of Casper the Ghost. It was similar to the one to the left, distinct enough to know who it was, but friendly looking.

And that is what Halloween was, for me, as a child. People carved pumpkins to look like … jack-o-lanterns, rang the doorbells of the neighbors they knew so well, shared a few sweet candies, and acted silly. All was done in a friendly, jovial manner.

As I see the houses decorated today with lights, sound and tombstones, see the costumes that are more ghostly than friendly, and hear of the illegal and immoral acts of the ‘season’ I miss what I experienced as a child, but am thankful for a neighborhood where the night is still jovial, and many of the trick-or-treat-ers have rung my doorbell before, asking if someone in our home could come out to play.

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It has now been over two months since our family grew by two. In that time we have grown to adore this brother and sister by another mother.

They are high school students, from China, who are here (in Canada) to learn Canadian culture and the English language. They are a brother and sister, with parents who live in China, and who love them.

There are many adjustments for them, in entering and living daily life in such a different culture.

They need to adjust to the language, which they came with a good foundation of. Even still, they are now using a language which is no longer tonal (where a word might have a very different meaning, depending on what syllable is emphasized). They are so tired after a day of school, where the subject may not be unfamiliar to them, but have to actively listen to the language drains their energies.

They need to adjust to our food. The first purchase I made, once they arrived, was a rice cooker, as I felt they needed that staple, but we do eat so differently. They might have rice for every meal, as well as soup or a broth, and then the rest of the meal. We might have a casserole. They have been very gracious, and they do both seem to have a sweet tooth. Fortunately the young man who is with us loves to cook, so, on weekends, he frequently makes ‘their’ soup … comfort food!

They need to adjust to the aesthetics in their surroundings. Our architecture, our landscaping, our decor, our art, our clothing, our hair, our make-up, our school supplies and so on, and so on. Our part of the world looks so different. For that matter we look so different! They now look like minorities, and that has to add to all the other adjustments.

The other night was Halloween, and our kids were prepping and preparing for their pursuit of loot. The younger of our Chinese kids was convinced to join them. As they were dressing her up, she was very hesitant, and not at all happy with the idea of wearing a costume in public. My two youngest (and their friends) were literally pulling her out the door!

About an hour later they returned, pillow cases full of sugary sweetness. It was as though I was seeing our daughter from another mother fresh for the first time.

I think, after two months, she has discovered an area of adjustment that she likes … alot, and I think it might just be the gateway to her being won over to our North American ways, through a pillowcase of candy.

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