A Hallow’s Eve Exercise in Mindfulness

All Hallow’s Eve is my favourite holiday. I love it for more than the sweet little chocolates we get (though that counts a bit too). I love it because it honours community and being part of a village. What other day do we get to go to neighbours and get sweets from them? I also love it as we get to dress up and role play being a character that we admire or wish to become even for a day. I also love it as it celebrates magic, being brave, and has roots in Pagan spirituality and witchcraft – times before the patriarchy and medical model of care took over. But i digress.

What i really love is that kids teach us important lessons in mindfulness. Being able to see life through their eyes is a good reminder that staying in the present, being in the here and now moment is how we can take care of ourselves. It is also a great way to enjoy life and not let it slip away from us.

One of the rituals we do for All Hallow’s Eve is to carve the pumpkin a few days ahead of time. We brainstorm our ideas and we typically pick scenes or an image that resonates with us. It changes each year. This year, as my eldest is a diehard Harry Potter fan, that of course had to make an entry.

What i forgot was all the mess it makes. I was ready to see if my kids could carve their own pumpkins – thank goodness for child-friendly knives. So in my head i pictured we would all scoop out the seeds and insides of our own pumpkins and then work as a harmonious little team carving alongside each other. You can imagine where this is going.

Lesson One
Of course my son was disgusted by the mess of his pumpkin; he hates the feeling of slime and goo on him. Unless it’s fart sounding play doh and pretend slime of course. I noticed i had to bite back my anger for him not doing his work, and notice instead that i know that he doesn’t like this texture. I visited my Wise Mind and reminded myself that the point of this supposedly fun activity was to have Jack o Lanterns as a result. And that each of us play our part. My daughter, for instance, doesn’t mind getting dirty and her pumpkin in fact had hardly any insides to scoop out. My son kept us busy with a song and dance routine, and Harry Potter commentary.

Lesson Two
We typically take turns as parents to go out for the door-to-door aspect of the night. This year, it was my turn to, and in fact i love it more than giving out candies (as a side note, we give out these amazing local cookies and i just love them). Our street is a small side street that most people forget about. But we know our neighbours and our children are loved by them. The lesson here is to follow the kid’s lead wit where they want to go – follow their map. I realized there was a reason behind the madness of zig-zagging around the street. My kids want to visit all the neighbours they know first. Sweet gesture, and the reason escapes me. I tried to reason that we can just go up one side of the street and down the other. But at one point i had to remind myself that this night, and the tradition of Trick or Treating is about and for children, not this party pooper mom.

Lesson Three
Speaking of party poopers, we decided to treat (pun intended) the kids to a walk to a much busier and more fun street. So, we put our cookies in a bowl and all 4 of us went. It was already pushing close to bedtime for our youngest. So my partner started to remind them after every house that we had to go quickly and get back home. How do you rush a kid who is getting free candy, and walking on a street after dark? You don’t. My partner and i quickly bickered debated on the street that we had to remember that this one night is about the children. And yes bedtime would be messy, and probably the next day. But it is a wonderful reminder that staying in the present and witnessing the kids’ joy and excitement (over candy, being out after dark, costumes, being with neighbours) is a great lesson.

Bonus Lesson
And yes, we did pay for it the next day – a Halloween Hangover was surely felt at our place. How about yours? Even the Good Witch couldn’t help the kid’s sluggishness. I take that back, my son was happy as a clam to get a much hoped for book and Harry Potter Lego figures – he just took forever to get ready. My daughter (the younger of the two) was a beast. Was it worth it, yes oh yes it was. Case in point – here she is later that day with her new unicorn stuff the Good Witch got her. The lesson here is to notice your sleeping babe, enjoy the silence and beauty in the cuddles. And know that you played a role in that.

(the sunflower pumpkin at the top of this post is from my friend’s porch – i love everything to do with sunflowers as the represent resiliency, strength and beauty)

Who Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

Yesterday was a favourite day at our house. We celebrate All Hallow’s Eve (aka Halloween). Not because of the candy (but that is a lovely bonus), but rather because we love the sense of community that it honours. We live on a small street, a bit away from the hustle and bustle of our popular neighbourhood. So while we fill our bags, it’s not due to all the houses we see – it’s because of the connection we’ve built with our neighbours.

My kids went to a handful of houses and each person knew them, either by name or recognition. Most of our neighbours gave the kids small packages of candy and toys. With their name on it and everything. That meant a lot to all of us. With our bags full in just a block, we went home happy and excited.

Another reason to love All Hallows Eve is the dressing up. Of course. We all dress up in our home and make the costumes over the course of small snippets of time. We have some House Rules about costumes – can’t all be store bought, no weapons, and the final decision has to be fully chosen with 2 weeks to spare before October 31. That’s the hard part i think! So we all help make the costumes and get into the spirit.

My kids dress up on a regular basis, and love to role play. What i love is the opportunity to see the world through their eyes and some things they would like to be – whether when they grow up or in another version of their life. I also like to choose characters that i admire and would love to be in another reality.

When the night of collecting goodies was done, we got into the nitty gritty of our other tradition – looking over all the candy goodies. We have a tradition of having the Good Witch come to our place. She gets to receive the leftover candy so that she can help make Fairy Dust for the year. She thanks our kids with a present the next morning. This year, the decisions of what candy to keep were painstakingly hard. I had to hold back a few times to not prompt my kids to PICK MORE CHOCOLATE. They are into lollipops and fruit candies but i think they have no idea that they missed the abundance of wee chocolate bars that were sitting right there.

It’s a good lesson for all of us – my kids got to pick things they were excited about, do some math to count how much they get to keep, and i got to learn to breathe in breathe out. We want to give them some choice and also learn to make some critical decision-making choices, even if that means more chocolate to give away to the Good Witch (ahem, me and their dad).

I guess that’s a win-win in the end, anyway right?