I have to say that Halloween is my favorite of all the holidays. I think part of it is because of the season. I love the colors of autumn, the smells, the cool air, the changes all around. I also think another reason is because you don’t have any pressures with Halloween. No shopping, no wrapping, no stress, no worries. Just plain old Fun!!
Every year when my 3 youngest boys were little we used to pick a family that we were friends with to “ding, dong, ditch”. Starting on October 1st we would begin to collect items that we felt this particular family might enjoy. A fall scented candle, a mini pumpkin or two, a scary book the family could share. A loaf of my pumpkin bread with caramel icing. Small toys, trinkets and candy would get added to the bag, and the excitement would grow. My children were filled with anticipation. The wait was torture. Every night they would ask me “Will it be tonight? Do we get to go out tonight? Please… Is tonight the night?’
Of course I would wait for the perfect night. It had to be just right. The moon had to be full and the sky had to be clear. We would head out to “ding, dong ditch.’ After homework was done, dinner was eaten and the dishes cleaned my boys would run upstairs to their rooms to get ready. Five minutes later they would stand in front of me dressed in their finest black outfits so as not to be seen. Black shirts, pants, hats and black gloves. They were on a mission. The flashlights were gathered and tested to make sure they would work. Batteries replaced if necessary. My boys were ready. They were more than ready.
Sometimes we were able to head out on foot to the home of our intended victims, other years we had to get there by car. When the home was in sight we would gather together, very quietly and formulate our plan. Who would carry the bag? Who would hold the flashlight and who would ring the bell? I was always the look out, left behind to watch and to have the get away car ready if that were the case. My boys would run and hide behind bushes and trees. They would crawl across the yards like little army men. They would lay on the ground and wait for just the right moment. Then they would spring into action, running wildly up onto the front steps, putting the bag by the door and ringing the doorbell like crazy! Run, Run, Run!! Back to the designated meeting spot to watch breathlessly, holding their hands over their mouths to quiet their giggles.
We would watch as the door was opened, the bag was found and the family gathered around. The children would sometimes run outside of the house yelling to whoever was there to come out. “Come out where ever you are! Come out where we can see you!” We would watch as they discovered all those special treats that were so loving gathered and placed inside that bag.
When the door was shut and the family safely back inside their home, we would head on our way. Our mission was complete. It was a great success. We “Dinged, Donged, Ditched”, and nobody was caught.
For the next week or so the story of that night would be told over and over again along with demonstrations of the crawling technique or the drop and roll maneuver. When the kids would come home from school the next day they would tell me all about what happened to their friends last night with a knowing grin on their face. They would start to plan next years attack, who the family would be and what they could get to put into the bag. “Can we paint our faces black too next year? Please?”
One year that bag made its way through our entire neighborhood. Each family would turn around and fill it with treats and return the favor leaving it on someone else’s doorstep. There was a rumor going around as to who actually started the “ding, dong ditch” but our lips were sealed. I miss those days. I think my boys do too. I can look back and know in my heart that those nights were part of the little things. Those little things that really are the big things.