I will never forget the last time I went trick-or-treating. It was the year it finally happened – my Mom said I was mature enough to be trusted to wear my Dad’s army uniform as my costume! I was giddy with excitement. I had looked forward to those words for a long time.
I was going to wear a real army uniform.
I was going to wear a real army uniform that belonged to my Dad.
I was going to wear a real army uniform that belonged to my Dad who died when I was 3.
It had been 10 years since my Dad passed and I only had one clear memory of him: sitting in bed with him watching Perry Mason, which was our nightly ritual. My only other vivid memory of my toddler years was that of walking into our church’s sanctuary, as I’m sure I did most Sundays, but this time everyone turned to stare. I saw tears running down many cheeks. I grabbed my Mom’s hand tighter as I suddenly felt very scared. And sad. But I didn’t understand why. I had no idea at the time what “funeral” meant. Ten years later I understood all too well.
Since I had so few memories of my Dad, I cherished any connection I could feel with him. He wore his uniform many, many times and now I would get to wear it too!
When Halloween arrived, I could barely contain myself until time to trick-or-treat. This was going to be the. most. epic. costume. ever. I meticulously tucked all of my hair into the hat, smudged my face and carefully put on the uniform.
I was fully grown to my current height of 5’8″ in 7th grade and in that authentic uniform, I could have easily passed for an actual army recruit headed off to boot camp. But I wasn’t. I was just a kid who was proud to be closer to my Dad for an evening. And excited to get candy, of course.
I met up with a friend who lived in my neighborhood and we had started our door to door quest, when it happened. She happened.
We rang the doorbell at a house and before we could even get out any words, the lady across the threshold scoffed, “You are too old to trick or treat!” And slammed the door.
We stood there in silence – the huge grins that had been there moments before were instantly wiped away. The magical evening I had anticipated was ruined. I no longer felt pride in parading around in my Dad’s uniform.
I felt stupid. And embarrassed.
You see, up until that very moment, it had never crossed my mind that I was too old to trick or treat. Not once. But after that night things changed. I stopped doing “childish” things. Because the last thing one needs during that already awkward tween to teen stage is feeling ridiculed.
My Dad’s uniform never left the closet again. I never went trick-or-treating again.
All because of one slammed door.
All because of a two cent piece of candy.
I welcome any age to ring my doorbell on Halloween. Most are just looking for a treat, and a few might even be looking to play tricks. But maybe, just maybe there’s one with a reason that All Hallows Eve is more of a hallowed eve. One who has more to her story.
One who feels like she’s trick-or-treating with her Dad for the first time.