HOT COCOA MAKES HALLOWEEN SWEETER

Re-posting old Halloween themed blogs brought me to this one–one of my earliest wordpress blogs ever (previously I blogged on Myspace–remember that?) from two years ago.  It was written the day after Halloween and was about my hot chocolate table.  I did that last year too and am hoping to do so tonight again, but it is raining very, very hard today.  We might have to wait till next year for that.  One more re-posting tomorrow, but until then, Happy Halloween (Happy Reformation Day!)

 

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.

 

AUTUMN–A WONDERFUL TIME OF YEAR

NOTE:  As we near Halloween, I will be reposting older blogs on this theme.  This post was originally titled “Autumn’s Miscellany.”  If you want more Halloween themed writing, you can always read my new story, Jolly Rogers:  A Story About Boyhood which is set on a magical Halloween night.  If not, enjoy the post below from last year.  Also note, this year’s Autumnfest was a smashing  success. 

 

Fall has announced itself with all the tell-tale signs of autumnal change.  Leaves are falling gently to the ground.  The temperature has dipped low enough to require a jacket or coat when leaving to go out and about.  The rain has picked up in intensity and frequency.  The World Series is on the television.  Supermarkets are selling large amounts of chocolate candy.  The first round of conferences at school.

Three items are on my mind this Friday evening, even if they are only loosely related by being specifically fall topics.

1.  Apparently corn is a tricky substance–(link and more link)?  A man and a woman were so befuddled by a corn maze that they not only could not find their way out, but they called 911.  That’s right, they called 911 to rescue them out from a corn maze.  Really?  Part of the reason they called 911 was because they had a small baby.  I worry about the safety of that child.  I mean, I grew up in cornfields and often harvested it by the bushel or even in heavy years truckload.  Corn is not dangerous.  You can walk right through it.  It is not an M. Night Shyamalan movie with aliens in the field nor is it a creepy movie about children who live in the corn.  Its corn.  I wonder if this was not some kind of prank, because it is hard to imagine this.Would you be my neighbor?

2.  Halloween, though eschewed by many Christ-followers (for completely understandable reasons) is a wonderful time to meet your neighbors and interact with the world.  Last year I began a practice, which I will do again this year, of serving up hot cocoa for my trick-or-treaters as well as yummy candy.  I’ve found sometimes parents like the hot cocoa and it allows for a moment of social interaction.  I also like to emphasize, in our worship, Reformation Day (although I am far from reformed, but admire the boldness of the Reformers) and appreciate the liturgical aspects of All Saints Day.  It is a neat time of year with rich and meaningful religious themes.

3.  Many churches participate in some kind of Fall Festival or Halloween-ie-esque party.  Ours is called Autumnfest and is this Sunday.  I’ve been trying to think up of different names we could use, though.  Maybe Pumpkinalooza.  Cake-Walkathon.  Candymania.  Sugar High and the By and By.  XtremeChurch.  Corny.  Corn Pone 2011.

It is hard to find one particular name that covers all we do—hayride, food, cake walk, sack races, preschool games, etc…  It is always great fun, a sort of heritage celebration of how we used to be; back when the harvest was important to most every family and America was an agricultural agrarian society.  Our Autumnfest always has a bit of everything.

Except a corn maze.

AUTUMN’S MISCELLANY

Fall has announced itself with all the tell-tale signs of autumnal change.  Leaves are falling gently to the ground.  The temperature has dipped low enough to require a jacket or coat when leaving to go out and about.  The rain has picked up in intensity and frequency.  The World Series is on the television.  Supermarkets are selling large amounts of chocolate candy.  The first round of conferences at school.

Three items are on my mind this Friday evening, even if they are only loosely related by being specifically fall topics.

1.  Apparently corn is a tricky substance–(link and more link)?  A man and a woman were so befuddled by a corn maze that they not only could not find their way out, but they called 911.  That’s right, they called 911 to rescue them out from a corn maze.  Really?  Part of the reason they called 911 was because they had a small baby.  I worry about the safety of that child.  I mean, I grew up in cornfields and often harvested it by the bushel or even in heavy years truckload.  Corn is not dangerous.  You can walk right through it.  It is not an M. Night Shyamalan movie with aliens in the field nor is it a creepy movie about children who live in the corn.  Its corn.  I wonder if this was not some kind of prank, because it is hard to imagine this.Would you be my neighbor?

2.  Halloween, though eschewed by many Christ-followers (for completely understandable reasons) is a wonderful time to meet your neighbors and interact with the world.  Last year I began a practice, which I will do again this year, of serving up hot cocoa for my trick-or-treaters as well as yummy candy.  I’ve found sometimes parents like the hot cocoa and it allows for a moment of social interaction.  I also like to emphasize, in our worship, Reformation Day (although I am far from reformed, but admire the boldness of the Reformers) and appreciate the liturgical aspects of All Saints Day.  It is a neat time of year with rich and meaningful religious themes.

3.  Many churches participate in some kind of Fall Festival or Halloween-ie-esque party.  Ours is called Autumnfest and is this Sunday.  I’ve been trying to think up of different names we could use, though.  Maybe Pumpkinalooza.  Cake-Walkathon.  Candymania.  Sugar High and the By and By.  XtremeChurch.  Corny.  Corn Pone 2011.

It is hard to find one particular name that covers all we do—hayride, food, cake walk, sack races, preschool games, etc…  It is always great fun, a sort of heritage celebration of how we used to be; back when the harvest was important to most every family and America was an agricultural agrarian society.  Our Autumnfest always has a bit of everything.

Except a corn maze.

HALLOWEEN AND HOT CHOCOLATE

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.