When Halloween Delivers More Treats Than Tricks

One of the best times of the year for any Dad is Halloween. You get to watch the excitement on the kids' faces as they dress up as princesses, vampires, pirates, mutant ninja turtles and The- Thing- You- Don't- Recognize- But- Is- Super- Trendy- This- Year. You get to take the kids around the neighborhood, saying hello to most of your neighbors. You even get to awkwardly explain to one particular neighbor why you've spent the past 10 minutes discussing Global Warming with her Ghost-covered light-post, who you mistook for her husband, Mark.

It's worse when later you have to explain it to Mark.

The real gem comes at the end of the night, as you return home just in time to get the kids out of their costumes and into their PJs … and then back into their costumes over their PJs (don't get me started). After a quick tucking them in followed by an hour of prayers, they finally begin to drift off—and you finally get to rummage through their candy, taking every last Snickers, Butterfinger and Smarties you can find. Some Moms call that "stealing from your kids." Dads call it "paying rent."

While I've been plotting my plan of attack for weeks, my daughters have had their minds on something completely different. They didn't seem to care about candy. They barely mentioned costumes. Instead, they’ve spent most of their waking minutes gravely concerned about our lack of Halloween decorations (this is not a joke).

I didn't understand why this was a big deal. Halloween decorations are scary. Place one in the wrong spot and you'll give yourself a heart attack. Or, worse yet, scream in a high-pitched, girl-like manner that your wife will never let you live down. Trust me, it's no coincidence that while Klems Manor has 17 giant tubs of happy, festive Christmas gear stowed in the basement, it only has one tiny box of Halloween stuff that's so small, it just says "H-ween" because the other letters won't fit.

But as I looked up and down our street, I started to understand why the girls were so concerned. Our next-door neighbors' porch was decked out in plastic pumpkins, flying witches and a Frankenstein who blows around in the wind and takes occasional karate kicks at our house. Another house down the way displayed an inflatable Winnie-the-Pooh wearing Halloween garb that glows so brightly we had to install a second set of curtains to block the light. Another house just a few up has fake gravestones littering the yard, with funny names on them like "Ima Ghost" and "Ricky D. Bones" and "Justin Bieber." And yet here at Klems Manor, the only thing connecting the outside of our house to Halloween is the long trail of cobwebs on our bushes left behind by Theo, the giant spider I've spent all summer (unsuccessfully) trying to kill.

Something had to be done. I spent the next day at work thinking about how I could make things right. The solution seemed simple: Stop at the Halloween store over the weekend and pick up some decorations. Nothing too big or scary, but a few things to show my girls I care. When we got home, I started to announce my plan when a soft, 3-year-old voice interrupted me.

"Dad," Ella said. "At school today I made some decorations for our house." She opened her backpack and unloaded one fuzzy spider, made out of a black paper plate and pipe cleaners, and a pumpkin carved from construction paper, orange paint and glue. They were simple. They were scary. They were the two most beautiful Halloween decorations I had ever seen in my life.

Funny thing about being a dad is that while you spend so much of your time trying to provide for your family you don't always stop to realize how much time they spend providing for you. Whether it's a hug on a bad day at work or a song when you've lost your voice or a homemade spider and pumpkin when your house isn't quite dressed for the occasion, your kids will give you more than you can ever give them. And that's the best Halloween treat any dad could ever ask from his kids.

So I've decided to scrap that tiny box and get a large Rubbermaid tub, big enough for our new decorations. Big enough for the future decorations I know Ella and Anna will make for us. Big enough you can write "Halloween" on its side and still have room to decorate. It's the least I can do to show my kids I love them.

Well, that and maybe this year I'll only take their Snickers.

The Life of Dad is updated every week. Thanks for stopping by and following my attempts to be a good dad, husband and co-ed softball player. I hope you visit again. -- Brian

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