Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A perfect tradition of Halloween service

It's almost Halloween! I have been wanting to come up with some Halloween ideas that will help others and well one kinda just fell into my lap. My husbands cousin commented on one of my blog posts about some Halloween service they used to do growing up...and of course the light went on in my head and I asked her to do a post about it. We may not think of Halloween as one of those holidays that is service focused but I don't think it should be any different then the others, it should just get us warmed up for Thanksgiving and Christmas, right!? The idea she gives would be great for family night or any other night of the week! So get to it you witches, fairies and princesses!

I was really touched by this post, it made me tear up, I know I'm a softy. This post is just exactly perfect for my blog and I couldn't be happier with it. Thank You Marquette! She blogs over at Pinstrosity (with my SIL The Divine Miss Em) if you want to check it out. If you like Pinterest you will love Pinstrosity.

Portal, AZ

Portal, AZ

"In June 2001, just a few months before I turned 15, my family moved from the Albuquerque area to a tiny little town, Portal, AZ, in the Chiricahua Mountains. I wasn't too happy with the move at the time, and neither was the community. They did not like outsiders coming in and were quite ornery towards us on a number of occasions. As Portal has a very high percentage of retired and elderly people in its tiny population, we were pretty much the only kids around. All my little brother had to do was lean on a tree for someone to get after my mother, “We don’t let our kids climb the trees in our town.” It was a trying time for all of us, and I know my teenage anger at being uprooted didn't help matters very much either.

Halloween in Edgewood before the Portal years
Halloween time arrived and the 5 of us kids wanted to go trick-or-treating (I've never outgrown trick-or-treating…even now). Mom explained to us a few times that the people in Portal weren't used to having kids our age around and that they wouldn't be ready for us and that it would probably upset them, so we couldn't go trick-or-treating that year. But, being the wonderful and genius mother she is, she came up with an idea that has stuck with us from that time onward. She used Halloween and trick-or-treating as a time to teach us to serve. We (mostly my mother I’m sure) baked up some breads and cinnamon rolls on Halloween and got dressed up in our costumes and then we picked out 3-4 houses we wanted to visit. Mom explained that we were going to go reverse trick-or-treating and give out goodies rather than ask for them. I remember thinking this was a dumb idea because no one liked us and it seemed weird to do something nice for the people who were being ornery towards us. Thankfully my mother didn't give me a choice in the matter and so the 5 of us kids piled in the van and mom drove us off down the road.

We pulled up to the first house and the other 4 kids excitedly ran up to the door, and mom gently pushed me along behind as I carried the goodies. We knocked on the first door and when the lady answered it there was a look of surprise and then panic. “Oh no! It’s Halloween and I don’t have any candy!” Mom then explained that we weren't asking for candy, rather we wanted to deliver fresh homemade (still hot) bread as our reverse-trick-or-treating. The woman’s look of confusion lingered for a few seconds and then she broke into a huge smile. She thanked us for the bread and wished us a Happy Halloween. The reaction was the same at the 2nd house…momentary confusion, then panic, then surprise and finally happiness. By this time I had finally gotten caught up in the idea of what we were doing and I was excited to stop at the last 2 houses. We got to the 3rd house and the reaction was the same. At this third house though was the gentleman that we planned on visiting last. He was surprised by the visit as well, but seemed a little awkward and very quickly excused himself to go home. We thought that was a little odd, but decided to stop at his house anyway. We got there and knocked on the door and he and his wife answered, with little baggies in hand ready for us. The gentleman had seen what we were doing at the previous home and had run home so that he and his wife would have time to look through their kitchen and pantry to see what they could put together for us. They were so gracious and kind and told us how impressed they were with what we were doing. We were a little surprised by this reaction as his wife had been one of those that had been especially ornery towards us. We thanked them for our goody bags (I think each bag had a hard candy, a cookie, and some licorice in it) and headed home. We thought that was it…Halloween was done and no more would be heard of it.

Portal, AZ St. Patrick's Day parade

Little did we know that phone calls were flying across the community with word of what had transpired. A few people the next day asked why we didn't come to their house; they had received the phone call and searched their house for what they could give us when we came. They weren't upset that we hadn't given them anything; they were just disappointed that they couldn't give us what they had ready. So we went out the next night and visited 3 or 4 more homes delivering goodies. After this we still had people in the community that were less than amiable, but the general attitude towards us changed from dislike to tolerance and in some cases to friendship.

For the next few Halloweens the tradition was continued with whichever kids remained at home. Three Halloweens later my family had moved again and even though the reception in the community was better than in Portal, the tradition was continued.

Having fun in Portal!

I will forever be grateful to my mother for the lesson that she taught me then and the tradition of kindness that she started. Service isn't about helping only those you like or those whom it is convenient to serve. Service is about loving your fellow men…even those that don’t like you. We saw the effect it had on the people we visited and on the surrounding community. I saw the effect it had on my as my heart was softened from the angry 16 year old to the happy and excited young woman. A Halloween doesn't go by that I don’t think about that year and what I learned. 

Well I hope you enjoyed this post! I sure did! 

What Halloween service do you do??? Do you have any fun Halloween traditions in your family?

We live in a neighborhood where Trick of Treating isn't done, the houses are too far a part to be worth it anyway. I know there are some in the neighborhood who would enjoy a visit from the kids in costumes and and yummy treats. It's a killer combination!


  1. Oh, what an amazing idea. I teared up a little, too! Halloween is hands down my favorite holiday. It gets my creative juices flowing and there isn't the added pressure of shopping, gift giving, etc..This experiment of Marquette's family creates a whole new "spirit" behind my fave holiday. I am definitely doing this with my boys this year! Thanks for sharing, Marquette!

  2. This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  3. We have a blast booing people. If you've never heard of it goto http://beenbooed.com/. My kids have a blast delivering the cookies and running. Print the poems from the website and leave with your plate of goodies. We all eat less of the sugar cookies when we do this.


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