Monday, October 31, 2011

Lessons from Halloween

(Photo taken June 26, 2011, at the closing of Byers UMC)

At first glance, it may seem sacrilegious to mention Halloween and church in the same breath. I know some people believe Halloween is devil worship, but at the little country church of my childhood, Halloween meant a time to trick or treat for UNICEF.

We ghosts and goblins at Byers United Methodist Church had small milk cartons decorated with the UNICEF logo. As we collected our sweet treats, people would drop coins for UNICEF through the crudely-cut slots at the top of the milk carton.

Some of us would stay in Byers and go door-to-door. I always wanted to go on the northwesterly country route by car so I could have one of my Grandma Neelly's homemade popcorn balls in my goodie sack.

I learned a lot about myself at Halloween. As a chubby princess, I declared I would never wear high heels again. My Dad proclaimed that he wanted a recording of that bold statement. But as it has turned out, I do prefer flats.

Another year, I learned that a computer made from a large box is tough to cram into the back seat of a car, especially when you're wearing it. I was apparently ahead of my time. I didn't really work on a computer until journalism classes at K-State. But they were evidently in the news, since I decided to craft my own from a cardboard box that year. In hindsight, it would have been a better costume for walking the streets of Byers. But then I wouldn't have had the tale to tell, I suppose.

While trick-or-treating at country homes was a tradition in my childhood community, I soon learned that it's not the norm in the Stafford area. The first year we were married, I had my basket of goodies ready and the porch light on. Not a single trick-or-treater rang the doorbell. It was definitely a "trick" and not a treat for this Halloween-loving farm girl.

So when my own goblins got old enough, we always started our Halloween trek in the country at neighbor's houses and at Grandma and Grandpa Fritzemeier's, where Jill and Brent were tricked along with being treated.

We spent last weekend in Manhattan. Brent flew in from South Carolina for the game. Jill and Eric came over on Sunday to celebrate Randy's birthday.

During the weekend, we saw plenty of little ones who were getting a jump on the holiday by wearing their costumes early. And since we'll have a little trick-or-treater in our family next year, it made me remember Jill and Brent's early costumes.

Jill, at 13 1/2 months, was an angel for her first trick or treating experience in 1986.

It's a little hard to tell from the photos, but I think Brent, at 5 1/2 months, was supposed to be a kitty for his first Halloween in 1988. He was much less excited than his sister about the whole affair.

But, as the years went by, Brent definitely relished the chance to dress up and pose for the requisite photo before going to collect treats.

This year, Jill is ready for trick-or-treat guests in their Topeka neighborhood, and Brent wanted to know if people would knock on the door in his South Carolina apartment complex. They'll be ready and waiting. I will be, too, but I've learned not to get my hopes up.


  1. Thanks for all the wonderful memories! I too will have my jack o lantern lit and porch light on awaiting munchkins in the neighborhood tonight. Last year I had 2 dogs accompanying their families (they were in costume too), so I gave them each a dog treat. I love Halloween!! Here's hoping someone comes to your house tonight!

  2. Dressing up for Halloween is so much fun! Thanks for sharing memories of past Halloweens from your childhood and from that of your children. I loved seeing the photo of Marie and Melvin tricking their grandkids! That, I'm sure, is a treasured memory for Jill and Brent!

  3. Hope you both get your share of trick or treaters - two-legged or four-legged! I love looking at the old photos. I wish they were nicely organized so that could happen more often!