When the kids were young, we hosted elaborate Halloween parties. Each of the kids in our close knit circle of friends could invite one friend to the party, which meant we usually had between 16 to 20 kids. All of the adults would dress up and play a part in the festivities. We were ghosts, grave diggers, mad scientists, vampires, werewolves, fortune tellers, giant bats, and - one year - an entire farm family of the undead who milled, knitted, and spun wool as if they had not frozen to death the previous winter. We had narratives. There were always games, themed food and party favors as well. It took weeks of planning, preparation, and set up. But the older the kids got, the harder it was to impress them, despite our best efforts (Exhibit A: the previously mentioned year of the farm family that involved moving between several houses). So, we quit having the Halloween party and the kids got together and went trick or treating instead.
And now, that has ended as well. This year, Miguel went to a party with his high school friends and Zeca had a friend over to watch movies. As always, they moved on much better than I did. When Halloween approaches, I still feel the need to prepare somehow. I think about decorating or making spider cupcakes or baking sugar cookies. But I remind myself that things have changed and I show up in the ways they want me to now. This year that meant getting a projector for the movies and making popcorn.
This weekend as we moved stuff back into the basement, we carried three large rubber maid containers of Halloween decorations and costumes back downstairs, as well as a witches broom and a cauldron. The cauldron wouldn’t fit on the new shelves and Zeca said, “I think we can get rid of this now, mom.” I was stunned, “You don’t think you might need it someday. Maybe you’ll have a party in high school…” She tilted her head sympathetically and then raised her eye brows, “Mom…” Luisa spoke up and said, “I think we can get rid of it.” Zeca added, “Honestly, we can probably get rid of all of it.”
I don’t know what look passed over my face but both of them scrambled to say that we didn’t have to get rid of the Halloween stuff if I wasn’t ready.
I realized right then that Miguel celebrated his last Halloween here this year and he wasn’t even at home. He didn’t want or need anything from all of those boxes. Zeca has never been into Halloween in the way that I was so when I really thought about it, I knew that she would never miss any of it either. Halloween as we knew it when they were younger was over. I cleared my throat, “Yeah. Ok. I think we can get rid of it.”
Later that evening, I texted our friends who were a part of all of those Halloween parties years ago. One of their daughters is in college now and the other one was the friend watching movies with Zeca this year. But they still decorate for trick or treaters, so, I texted and asked if they wanted my Halloween decorations. They did.
Now, I will confess…I did fight back a few tears when I told Luisa that I was going to pass them on. Fortunately, we were in the car in the dark so I don’t think she noticed. But after that, I actually felt relieved. It was time and I just needed a nudge. Letting go is getting easier - box by box, moment by moment - and I’m making space for what’s to come.