Halloween always brings back wonderful memories of our kids getting ready for trick or treating and the happy chaos that ensued! We had many of our Halloweens in Germany since we spent 14 years of my husband’s Army career over there. It was a lot of fun because we always lived on post so we knew all our neighbors really well and their kids knew ours well, too! So it was kind of like a big street party in many ways.
When you live in overseas American Army housing areas, the streets are pretty much closed to auto traffic during Trick or Treat hours and there are plenty of MP’s on street corners to make sure the kids are OK. It is a lot like an old fashioned neighborhood from the 1940’s or thereabouts. At least, that’s what I’ve seen in movies and read about in books.
Such a fun, carefree time for the children. Oh, many times the Soldier parents were not there due to training rotations at other European locations or because they were deployed to combat zones. So, the mom, in most cases and certainly in mine, who stayed home had to do all the trick or treat preparation by herself. It was bittersweet every time. Just as celebrating kids’ or your own, or your Soldiers’ birthdays without the other Spouse were. But as the parent who stayed behind I tried to make it as festive as possible for the little ones. It was certainly not their fault that I was without my helpmate on that end. The kids deserved great memories, good times as often as possible. Most of us felt and feel that way about celebrations in general during those inevitable separations for Army families.
And so, the unsung heroes, the Army Spouse who remained to keep the “home fires burning” put on a happy face and made the costumes (sometimes) or certainly bought the costumes for the kids, bought the candy, decorated the exterior of the home a bit, and either took the kids trick or treating for one hour and then came home and gave out candy the second hour. Or sometimes a good friend/neighbor took all the kids and one gave out candy for both sets of quarters, whether that was a duplex in Schweinfurt or a stairwell in Wuerzburg.
We moms (for the most part back then) are clever, resourceful people and learn to count on the kindness and support of friends who are in the same boat. I know my kids have good memories because they will share them fondly to this day. The times my husband was home for Halloween meant he wore the full, over the head with fake hair Frankenstein mask, along with his Army tanker boots and a blazer with a sweater under it to make him look bigger and the jacket kind of tight and more monster like! A couple of years he came home after the trick or treating hours had begun so he just stuck the mask on while in uniform, and placed his Army cap on top of that big old fake head of hair! It was probably the creepiest of his outfits. He has been known to make children cry! And to even scare some parents! Moms mostly, or they’re the ones who show it.
He will wear that mask and jacket with sweater tonight, even though he’s now a retired Soldier. He still has the tanker boots and will wear those, too. This year he had to rummage through boxes in the garage to find them for they are no longer in his closet. But he kept them, which makes me smile. Bittersweet once again.
You know Halloween is not a sinister evening. It’s about showing the sinister and those who want to scare us that we’re NOT afraid of them. Originally it was to say that tomorrow we will celebrate the saints in Heaven who overcame the evil of this world with the help of a God who made us and intends us for goodness and beauty.
So, go ahead and show the world that you and yours can make fun of those that would seek to harm us, you can thumb your noses at those who only have intimidation and terror to offer, while you have laughter and joy and a belief that the sun will appear again in the morning, bringing with it hope and a brighter day, another chance to overcome evil with good and to bring down hatred with love, to turn mourning into dancing! Just as our Creator intended!
Happy Halloween! Or All Hallow’s Eve, as it used to be called. Here’s some info on its origins. And if you have the time you can watch the Night on Bald Mountain videos on YouTube from Disney’s Fantasia. Kinda cool.