I've never been a fan of Halloween. In fact, I think to put it bluntly, I just truthfully have a strong distaste altogether for the holiday. I don't know if it's the practical side of me that clashes so much with the whimsies this day demands or if it's simply that I have a disorder or something (ha!), but I seriously do NOT like Halloween--so much so that I heave a huge sigh of relief every year on November first, when I know it's a whole 365 days until this horrid day will roll around again. I know, I know--I sound completely awful. And I'm sure you're wondering about my poor children. So did I, so a few years ago I sat down and drafted a little poem in their honor. I endearingly named it "The Grinch of Halloween." Ha!
THE GRINCH OF HALLOWEEN
I don't know where it came from
Or how it got it start,
But sometime after childhood
I had a change of heart.
My eyebrows started furrowing,
My stomach formed a knot,
And before I even knew it
My attitude went to pot.
I tried and tried to fix it;
I thought it'd be a cinch,
But every year at Halloween
I turned into a Grinch!
It's not that I hate candy
(Quite the opposite is true)
But when my children beg for it
I don't know what to do.
And then there's dressing up,
Finding costumes that are great.
I really shouldn't say this,
But it's the main thing that I hate.
I know my kids aren't lucky;
They'd trade me in a pinch.
It can't be easy when your mom
Becomes a Halloween Grinch!
So, what does one do when she is a Halloween Grinch? She thinks, thinks, thinks, thinks of ways to make the holiday great for her and her family, even if it means going completely outside of the lines of tradition. And that's exactly what I did! I sat my kids down and asked them how they would feel about scratching the costumes and trick-or-treating and going to a hotel instead for swimming and a family party of games and popcorn and fun. And guess what they said?
It was unanimous.
I'm not going to lie--I was surprised the first time I asked and they were so willing to let it all go and do something different (OK, it might have helped that I threw in a hotel stay and their favorite activity--swimming--but hey, I had to make it good, right?). So we did it. And it was awesome. Now, of course we can't do this every year because of school, so we have had to wait for about six years to try it again. But guess what? Halloween happened to fall on a Friday night again this year, so we were ready for another Conger Family Halloween. And this was one was better than ever!
It was a little crazy to begin with because we ended up stopping by the car dealership in Ogden on our way to pick up our new car (can't believe I didn't get pictures of the kids with that car because man alive, were they excited!). I thought adults got excited over new cars, but our kids thought this car was the best thing that ever happened to them. It was hilarious. I finally had to tell them I was glad they liked our car but I seriously couldn't stand one more comment about how awesome it was. Ha! (Seriously--they were excited about every single feature--it was getting annoying).
Then we were on our way to Logan. Kinda funny we drove to Logan to stay in a hotel but the local Marriott didn't have the size of room we needed (and wouldn't you know we had a free night's stay at a Marriott through our rewards points so we didn't even have to pay for the amazing suite we got--AWESOME!!!). We drove to Grandma and Grandpa Conger's house first where Dan's mom had an amazing dinner prepared for us. It was fabulous!
Since Boston's birthday is coming up in just two weeks, she was all prepared to make him feel special. She is so good that way. He loved wearing the king's crown and blowing out his 8 candles on this unique birthday donut. It was a great start to our evening.
Then we were off to our hotel and to swimming. The fabulous thing about going to a hotel pool on Halloween night is that nobody is there! We had the whole pool to ourselves for the longest time until one other little boy finally joined us. Our family was so loud that he spent most of his time just staring at us. Ha! Boston was playing Truth or Dare with Dan and thought for sure Dan would dare him to jump into the cold pool after being in the hot tub, but instead Dan dared him to ask the boy what his name is and be friendly. It took him 20 minutes to get up the nerve, but finally, right before we left, he found out the boy's name--"either James or Jake. I couldn't really hear him." Ha!
We showered quickly and then the games began! It's not easy coming up with games both teenagers and three-year-olds will enjoy, but I was pretty clever this year (truthfully, I stole one game from a preschool Mom, and the other game is one I play with my preschoolers--ha!). We played a game called "Trick-or-Treat." I had the words "trick" or "treat" in a bag. We each took turns pulling a word out of the bag. If someone pulled the word "treat" out of the bag, they just got to choose a treat. But if they pulled out the word "trick," it would tell them a trick they had to perform to get a treat. The tricks were funny things, like stand on your head and whistle a tune, or skip backwards around the room while rolling your hands or do 10 push-ups while singing the ABC's. It was so fun watching everyone do their tricks. We laughed so hard! I decided laughing together as a family is one of my all-time favorite things in all the world.
Next, we played "Don't let the ghost touch the ground." In other words, don't let the balloon his the ground. We all spread around the room and had zones we were in charge of. If the balloon came our way, we tapped it up in an effort to never let it touch the ground. We soon found we were so adept at this game, we had to make it more challenging. That's when we decided each person could only touch the balloon one time in a row. Oh, how much fun we had diving around the hotel room after that balloon! I felt terrible for whoever was in the room below us (secretly hoping it was nobody), for we are one competitive group of Congers and we were not about to let that balloon hit the ground. The rule was, every time it hit the ground, we all had to do 5 push-ups. We did very few push-ups, let me tell you. We laughed and played until Dan said we were probably about to get kicked out. Then we brushed our teeth and snuggled in our beds with the sweetest of memories. SO much better than costumes and cold trick-or-treating.
The next morning we got up early (because we can't help but be early risers--Oh ya, and because Nate had a football practice and basketball game to get back to) and went downstairs to a really fabulous continental breakfast. I'm talking biscuits and gravy, waffles, eggs, oatmeal--pretty much anything you could want. Dan and Nate left to go back for the practice and the kids and I decided to hurry and get ready so we could go watch a cousin play basketball. We thought he would love the surprise of having 5 extra fans walk in and cheer for him. After all, who wouldn't love that, right?
We ran to our aunt and uncle's house after that to see their beautiful new home and then we were off again to head back home to catch Nate's basketball game (Is it any wonder I came home and sacked out on the couch afterwards?).
It was definitely a Halloween to remember. As I lay in bed last night thinking about our time together, I thought about why I have such a strong distaste for the regular Halloween traditions. And then I decided it didn't really matter. What mattered is that we were building memories--good, strong, happy memories that I hoped my children would treasure forever. Whether we were trick-or-treating and going to haunted houses in crazy costumes, or whether we were swimming and playing silly games in a hotel room--all that mattered is that we were together and that we were building relationships. I often secretly wonder how my children will choose to do things when they have their own families, and I do hope I haven't ruined the--ha! Mostly, I hope I am teaching them that holidays are about family and family is about being together.
The best part about all of it is that I don't dread Halloween like I used to; in fact, when we have experiences like this coming up, it's something I look forward to. Maybe I'm not such a Halloween Grinch after all! Ha!