Monday, October 31, 2016

Trick or Treat . . .

In America, trick-or-treating has been a Halloween tradition since the late 1920s. The phrase, Trick or Treat are customarily idle words of warning to perform mischief on the homeowners property if no treat is given to the children who knock on their door or ring the doorbell, looking for candy and treats. This is usually not the case today. Kids just want to have fun dressing up in a favorite character of theirs and go to the homes deck out for Halloween.  

At our house, which seems to have become known as the best house to go to, come lots of kids. And we know approximately how many kids will come because we keep a count. As the kids come up onto the porch, we count them, marking the number on a piece of paper. When the lights go off, we tally the number and keep that info for the next year. We have had to increase the number of bags over the years, but we always have enough.

It took us many years to get it right. The week before Halloween, we buy the candy, little prizes and bags. We clear the dining room table and separate the candy and prizes and one-by-one, fill each bag. Now, as they come up the driveway and sidewalk, some simply run across the yard, they line up and oddly enough, are courteous to the other kids. They wait their turns as the ones on the porch reached into a large basket filled with sealed paper bags. (Frist we used clear sandwich bags, but then the kids got smart and if they didn’t like what they saw, they picked another. Kids are clever!)  After they take one each, they leave and the next ones do the same, until all the bags are gone. In 360 days, we will do it again. Whew!

And we have lots of fun, too. My hubby and I arrange chairs on the sidewalk and we sit there watching and talking to the kids as they come. The parents of the little ones stay on the street taking pictures. Our daughter sits on a rocking chair on the porch with her paper and pen, watching and talking with the kids. Many know her from her years of babysitting and working the kid’s camp in our neighborhood. And has the years go by, the kids get older and stop coming only to be replaced by new generations of cute and scary guys and gals.

We truly make Halloween a family holiday and enjoy seeing these kids have a good time. Some of their costumes are out-of-this-world, and you can tell they worked hard on them, or perhaps a parent did making them. I personally can only remember two significant Halloweens: one when I was about nine years old and going to my cousin’s neighborhood and getting lot of candy, even money. The other was when my hubby and I just got engaged and we dressed up and went around his neighborhood, getting on our knees to appear small when the door opened, stood up, scaring their socks off. Then of course, our children’s Halloweens, dressing them up, walking around with them, and eating most of their candy.

So have FUN, don’t scare the kids too much, and indulge your sweet tooth.

Happy Halloween   

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Never forget a Birthday . . .

Yesterday would have been my dad’s 100st birthday. Sadly, he passed away in 2004, but there is hardly a day that goes by that I do not recall him in some way. It’s the little things like his off-the-wall witticisms. He was good at them, such as the popular Midwest adage, “Oh, go jump in the Lake (Lake Michigan, that was), Or this one, Oh, go scratch! And when I would get hurt, a scraped knee or a fall of my bike, he used reverse psychology and told me, “To do it again. He didn’t see it happen the first time!” That would get me so mad, but he would smile and made sure that I was alright. His smile was so genuine and his heart knew no bounds. 

The one constant characteristic about Dad is that he saved everything. Before hoarding became part of our lexicon, I remember living with piles of things, from boxes and newspapers reaching the ceiling, to walking in carefully placed paths around more piles of things. My mother would have a hissy-fit, but he turned a deaf ear. So, through the years, his stuff crowded every space imaginable. When push came to shove, and by virtue of relocations, much of his stuff disappeared. What remained we saved has much as we could. We looked through tons of boxes and bags, coffee cans, where ever Dad could find space to stash things.

As we investigated, we found the treasures. Boxes filled with oddities, like his coal miner’s breathing protection equipment for gas detection and lantern. He even saved a chuck of coal. Dad was a coal miner in Pennsylvania. He despised the work and as soon as he could, he joined the Navy. A veteran of WWII, he was on the USS Enterprise when it was hit by Japanese kamikaze, surviving by his wits alone. Later in his retirement years, he wrote about his life. I would see him sit at his desk and handwrite his thoughts. He had extremely fine penmanship. But he would not talk or share his writings.

Among these treasures were those writings. If they were not found, I would have never known so much about his life he wouldn’t talk about. Just before he passed away, I presented him with a hefty notebook filled with his papers, photographs and keepsakes. I have yet to finish it, as I am still finding paraphernalia I insert in the album.

Then I found a real treasure tucked into a birthday card he gave me. Dad was not a big gift giver. Mom took care of that. But here was a short note written to me and it took my breath away. I framed it and put it into our Family Museum.  It is a wonder how something that so easily could have been discarded sat hidden away for 22 years. Thank you dad for these precious words I will always cherish. I just wished I had him, but his words are enough to give me the encouragement to carry on, because he knew I was going to be successful “in whatever you set out to do.”   

Happy Birthday, Dad.

I will always love you.