Last night the Greenbeans had a great Halloween. Mrs. Greenbean took the sprouts out trick or treating and thankfully they found more treats than tricks. I’m a much bigger fan of Almond Joy than I am of torched bags of poop on my porch. While they begged, I handed out primo candy at my house. I also ran an extension cord and set up a hot chocolate table in the front yard. It was just a decision to do something different, trying to be a good neighbor.
Not everyone wanted the cocoa. About a third of the parents got a cup of hot chocolate and a bout half of the little monsters. One little boy was extremely excited to have a cup of the hot stuff but then discovered he couldn’t drink it through his skeleton mask. It was quite the existential struggle watching him agonize over the cup of cocoa or the costume. Eventually he took the mask off and drank up, deciding flavor was more important than frightful.

The most curious hot cocoa statement was made about halfway through the evening. A mother with three children came up and I handed out candy and asked if anyone wanted some hot cocoa. All three of the children said, in very happy and enthusiastic tones, “YES!” But mother, standing about five feet behind firmly said, “NO!” I was fine with that, thinking the children perhaps had already had too much sugar. That is a situation with which I am very sympathetic.
But then she revealed her reason. “We cannot walk and drink at the same time; and they will spill the hot chocolate and ruin their costumes.”

I said fine, smiled, and they went on to the next house down the street. But I sat there on my metal folding chair and pondered that statement. Perhaps I am missing something here, but isn’t the whole point of Halloween to get chocolate on your costume? Isn’t Halloween the one night of the year we encourage our children to paint their faces, tangle the hair, put on ugly masks, beg for candy and then cram as many Mars Bars down their gullet as possible? What kind of child can have a good time on Halloween and not get a little dirty?

I understand all about the costume, but, the kids are only young once and I bet it is it machine washed; and after they walked around the neighborhood all evening you’re probably going to want to wash it anyway. Did you have plans for keeping it for next year and using it again? Is this a generational, heirloom costume passed down since the Civil War? Besides, it is dark. No one can see the stains anyway. Does your child’s Cinderella costume look that much like Cinderella that a hot cocoa stain is going to blow the whole illusion? Really?

I suppose what struck me was, that sometimes, we all—kids and adults—need to unwind and just get a little dirty. Enjoy the moment. The only way to truly eat watermelon is to be sticky when you are finished. The only way to play basketball is to get sweaty. The only way to enjoy painting is to get covered in it. The only way to enjoy most of life is to be sloppy nasty dirty. For crying out loud, have you ever been to a pumpkin patch. If not, here is a hint: Wear boots.

Life is messy. Thankfully God made us washable; so that hot chocolate stain will not last forever, yet memories of having fun on Halloween will.


  1. Nice post, Jamie. I confess I would have been that mom… Mostly it’s a pain to try to let them walk and drink at the same time. So many distractions… Who holds the cup at the next door? BUT–I also would have considered letting them sit on your sidewalk and drink the hot cocoa before we moved on….

    I commend you for your efforts to engage the community!

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