Tomorrow is a week exactly until Halloween. For me, it’s always been a hit or miss type of holiday. More times than I can probably recall, I’ve missed out on the holiday, or at least, ended up unable to fully celebrate or engage in any holiday-related festivities. The first instance I can remember happened in October 1998, at the age of 10. For about a week or at least several days prior to the actual occurrence, I’d been experiencing strange stomach discomfort. At first, my mom and I both assumed it must have been some type of intestinal gas, or something benign of that nature. Though, on or around the 28th of October, the discomfort increased to the point where I inherently knew it wasn’t simply a minor event.
It just so happened that particular evening, my parents were at a meeting at school, so they were unable to be easily reached. In the time before cell phones, without a pay phone, or landline phone, it was nearly impossible to reach them, until my mom called to check in on their way into the grocery store, stopping at a pay phone. Hearing the grave and frantic nature of my and my sister’s voices, our parents rushed home and quickly placed me inside the car and transported me to the ER. Within several hours, in the wee hours of the morning, my appendix was removed, as doctors feared it could soon rupture, given my blood work results and examination. It took me a bit longer than some to recover from the surgery and Halloween soon arrived, with me bed ridden. Early Halloween morning, a nurse entered my room with two stacks of cards, festively decorated. Some, she explained, were from a local elementary school who designed cards for pediatric hospital patients. Therefore, I was one of the recipients. The cards were filled with silly and fun sayings and mantras, colorfully decorated to brighten my spirits, which it did. The other stack of cards came from my 5th grade class at school. Needless to say, though I wasn’t trick-or-treating that year, I certainly felt loved and “treated.”
Several Halloweens following that year, I suffered from minor sniffles and colds, causing me to either skip out on trick-or-treating entirely, or at least shorten my Halloween adventures. Then, as a 20-year-old, I again found myself hospitalized on Halloween. Though at 20, I was certainly way past a typical trick-or-treating age, I still felt disappointed to again be unable to join in the festivities as so many of my fellow 20-year-old college students did. Without disclosing the nature of my hospitalization, it was a holiday within the unit of the hospital that again filled me with love and appreciation. My fellow hospital patients; some children, some teens, and some adults, both male and female, wrote cards to one another and distributed them; trick-or-treating of a different kind, again filled with all treats, as opposed to tricks. The cards were filled with what we liked or admired about one another.
At this point, you may be wondering what prompted this particular post, and to that inquiry, I respond with the outpouring of posts and articles I’ve seen on candy-free Halloweens, or displaying a teal pumpkin outside one’s home, indicating they are “allergy-free.” It’s a concept I’ve come to embrace and one that is a reminder of the candy-free Halloweens filled with inspiring cards and words, as opposed to sweet, edible treats. Though I’m not opposed to candy (I’m a true fan of many!), the candy-free concept is one I feel is a positive one; one where children and adults can both engage in and celebrate, no matter their financial state, because kind words are always free.
So, this Halloween, if you’re feeling pressured to perfect your Halloween candy bowls or party preparations, just remember, sometimes a caring word, thought, card, or acknowledgment can be so much sweeter than the most decadent of candies and/or foods.