Sunday, October 30, 2011

This is Halloween

     Some memories from childhood aren't so grand, but then there are those I cherish, like Halloween on Reimche Drive. My mom wasn't a big fan. She told me annually they weren't having Halloween this year.
     Regardless of her lack of enthusiasm, I loved this particular holiday. Walking into my classroom in grammar school on October 1 was always thrilling for me because the teachers at Turner Elementary went all out when decorating their rooms. After school, I would get on my bike and ride around the block to see who had put up there Halloween fare in the windows.
     Then there was the night itself. Had to eat dinner before going trick or treating, but I was too excited to be hungry (unless the menu included items such as little Snickers bars and the like). Speaking of Halloween candy, I always took umbrage at the label they stamped on the wrappers that indicated the product was the "fun size." Those tiny little offerings weren't the "fun size." Full size candy bars, even king size would be the fun size!
     Our neighborhood was perfect for trick or treating. My house was surrounded by neighbors with kids my age. We would gather with a designated parent and hit the streets. I'll never forget certain houses. There was the lady in the court who would grab a handful of candy and drop it in our pillow cases (pillow cases, to haul the most booty). Loved her. Then, on the corner the house that hosted a ghost that would come shooting out of the garage when we rang the doorbell. Took me a couple years to work up the courage  to call on that home, but eventually, the want for candy became greater than the fear of the flying specter.
     I loved our bravado. Once we went around the block and hit both sides of the street, we would go around again. Yeah, we were met with the occasional "Weren't you here before?" but that never kept anyone from giving up the goods.
     Then there was the Great Halloween Debacle of '78. On one particular porch, my pillow case split open and my candy spilled out like a pinata's innards. Kids starting grabbing my loot and stuffing it in their bags until my brother yelled at them to knock it off. The gang moved on while I was left picking up the pieces. I believe I trick or treated alone for the rest of that night.
     As a dad, I enjoy Halloween with my kids. I don't tell them "they're not having it this year." We start talking about costumes in May! Every year I say I'm dressing up like my kids' dad, and I wouldn't dream of not walking around with them through the neighborhood. A posse' will gather here on October 31, a group of school friends that will make our house home base, and after we've converged, we'll show no mercy! My kids have their favorite houses, too. The nice elderly lady with the laughing witch on her porch, and the "Pumpkin House" down the street that hands out goody bags with FULL SIZE candy bars! Redemption.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Let Me See It

     When I graduated college, my dad came up to me and asked to see my diploma... but it was in absentia. I still had one more class to finish so I didn't get the piece of parchment paper with the cool calligraphy writing on it that day. Rest assured, I did earn it later on, but I'll never forget my dad's face when he asked to see what was inside my degree holder. And the way he asked... there was pride gushing out of every mono-syllabic word: "Let me see it."
     Neither of my parents finished high school. Life threw them some curve balls and they swung as best as they could. They both learned to work hard, and not necessarily at jobs they enjoyed, but they needed to get food on the table, so they endured.
     They never pushed me to get good grades. In fact, they never sat on top of me to even get my homework done. As long as I wasn't failing, they were content. So I meandered through high school academically. I wasn't planning on continuing my education. My parents didn't push me to, either. They just wanted me to get a good paying job so I could take care of myself. So my Senior year of mostly electives was pretty cake.

     Obviously, Mom and Dad didn't go to college. So I was the first out of my immediate family to enroll in a four year academic institution. Therefore, my parents couldn't have been more proud when I walked the line at Bethany College. When Dad asked to see my diploma, it was like it was his chance to hold one of those things that he never got close to, not even once in his life. The rest of the day was weird with family dynamics in full force, but I'll cherish the moment my dad said, "Let me see it."
     With my family background, I'm actually kind of befuddled that I am working on my Master's in Pastoral Counseling. Up until this term, I was taking one class at a time, but I had to up it to two to get financial aid. That was initially worrisome for me. I have three kids under my feet. Others had posted on the Liberty University discussion board that they tried two classes at a time, but it was too much. Yet. this week I will finish out my first term taking two courses simultaneously. And I passed. And on this track, I will have my Master's in May. Un-stinking-believeable. I don't know how this transpired. I can only give the credit to God for seeing me through this process because I certainly wasn't cut out for it.
     It is in moments like these that I so wish Mom and Dad could know what I was up to. I would never wish them back to earth, they had enough pain here, but in May, I will be wishing for that phone line to heaven that doesn't exist so I could call them up and tell them I just earned my Master's degree. And, oh how great it would be to hear my dad say, "Let me see it."