When I was growing-up in the Bronx, my mother wouldn’t allow my brother and me to go trick-or-treating. She claimed it was begging and if we wanted candy, we should ask her. And, no, we didn’t open the door to trick-or-treaters as they were considered beggars! Over the years, I’ve always had ambivalent feelings about all the Halloween hoopla. My favorite Halloween memories, though, are of the times I spent with my godson, Finn. Yes, this is another Finn-inspired column!
When he was three years old I took him to a party goods store the eve of Halloween. It had a great candy aisle, but to get to the aisle we had to pass by a mechanical scarecrow that made weird, jerky movements. Finn called it a “scary” and was petrified. So I hefted him into my arms, had him close his eyes, and then I stood in front of the “scary” telling him that if he ever tried to hurt Finn I’d beat him up. Reassured, Finn jumped from my arms and ran down the aisle. It did wonders for my ego!
A few years later, it was the week before Halloween and I picked him up from school. As we were walking to my car, he let go of my hand and ran up to a kid who was half-a-block away. Finn grabbed him from behind in a bear hug. The two started laughing. I was baffled. When I asked why he’d “attack” the poor kid, Finn matter-of-factly told me that he tries to hug a different person each day.
We then headed off to a pumpkin patch where he found a medium-sized pumpkin that was too big for him to lift – or so I thought. He insisted on carrying it to the cashier at the front of the lot. It was quite a haul for him with a lot of grunting and a lot of dropping of the pumpkin, but he got it to the clerk.
Straw fears, generous hugs, challenging feats of determination – this is what I now think of when Halloween rolls around. Okay, and also how weird it was not to go trick-or-treating as a kid!
Finn’s twelve now and so store displays don’t scare him, hugs are at a premium, and he’d rather play an App game than lug a pumpkin. That’s how it should be – we grow, we progress through the stages of life.
Still, though, I cherish those memories as I struggle with my resolutions to not let paper-thin fears paralyze me, to be generous with my affection, and to challenge myself to do what seems not doable. Why? Well, really isn’t that the surest way to find and seize life’s treats?
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