Choosing traditions

When I was a kid, we went to a nearby neighborhood with our cousins and spent every Halloween tromping around as a group of 10. It’s Wisconsin, and mom always made us wear coats, which ruined our costumes. This neighborhood is perfect for the quintessential Halloween door-to-door trick-or-treating, and we felt so cool when we got to go without our parents trailing along behind us!

As great as the neighborhood was, the best part was being all together. We always went the same way, and it really was predictable and fun. We all came back to my aunt and uncle‘s house, and traded out candy for the stuff we liked.

When Tess and Remy were little, we started trick-or-treating with some really good friends of ours. They live a few neighborhoods over, and have a great group of kids and friends, so we trick-or-treat with them. The problem is, our kids are just enough younger than that group that they’re always behind and don’t really know anyone. It’s also not our neighborhood, so as they get older, letting them roam on their own would be a bit trickier. But David and I met at these friends’ Halloween party the second time around, and have been celebrating Halloween‘s with them for decades at this point! It’s hard to make a change.

This year, we started with them and then came back to our own neighborhood. A group of friends who live nearby were taking their kids trick-or-treating together. We stopped at the neighbor’s house for cider, then headed out with the crew. Griffin and Lilou were not in a hurry, and we very quickly fell behind. It didn’t matter too much, as we know a lot of the neighbors and always had a sense of where we were. We crisscrossed the original group with some regularity! When Tess needed a bathroom, a neighbor we knew to let her in. And when the kids started to look tired, we easily turned for home. On our way back, we took our own street. The kids showed off their costumes to good friends, and got to play at another friend’s house in the yard with two of their best friends. We got to socialize and see people we should get more time with but don’t!

As a kid, I remember being very conscious of when I was making choices that were really eliminating other choices. It’s hard to choose when there are multiple options that are so much fun. But today, I could picture our kids and their friends out trick-or-treating as a group. I could even picture them leaving all of us parents, laughing over cider at one or the other of our houses.  The kids held up shockingly well as we wandered the streets for hours. The Littles really are slow! But as we headed home at the end of the day, this felt a lot like what trick-or-treating was for me when I was a kid. And while I’m not the biggest fan of Halloween, those are some of my fondest memories.

As the kids get older, and remember what we did the year before, we are trying to find our version of celebrating holidays in a way that gives them something to look forward to and rely on. Some are very similar to what Dave and I had as kids, and some are totally different. I’m not sure what I would’ve thought if my parents took us to a Santa rampage bike race! But our kids love it. The key ingredients for us seems to be family, friends, and a low-key approach that means we can have fun without overdoing it.

I spend perhaps too much time thinking about what our kids will say about their childhood looking back when they are our age. Here’s hoping some of our choices inspire them to make similar ones, and that they in their own way, find new traditions for whatever their families look like. For now, we got to spend a beautiful fall day walking around our neighborhood laughing and joking with friends and neighbors. When our kids get up from their nap, we will have a warm fall dinner followed by a very limited raid of the Halloween buckets. And then, onto Lilou’s birthday!