Memories, Masks, and Family Time
It’s that time of year again that a farmer’s daughter (me) begins to think of all that went into the harvest season for our family. As a child, it was wonderful memories of riding in the beet truck, anxious to see what treats mom had packed in our dinner bags, or listening to the comforting sound of the corn dryer humming all night. But for Dad, it meant a lot of work. He had to get the beans, corn, and sugar beets out of the fields. And he was under some pressure from us kids; he was on a race to finish the job before October 31st. Why? Because then Dad would be able to take us trick or treating!
As the days got closer to the date, we began asking him if he was going to make the deadline. But even if he didn’t, we suspected he would take off a couple hours to take us around the neighborhood. And our suspicion was correct. As Mom helped us get into our costumes, we would wait by the door for Dad to come in from the field or barn, load us up in the car, and take us out for the night.
Living in the country, some folks thought we should just be taken to town and dropped off to make our way around that neighborhood. But we had a different tradition. We had “neighbors” too. They just happened to live anywhere from a half mile to five miles from our house. So off on our evening drive we would go, creating a special tradition that I continue to hold close to my heart.
I remember as a child anticipating the stops at each house. One year we were somewhat confused as we went to the door of a lady who answered with a grumpy face and yelled, “Halloween isn’t until tomorrow! Shame on you for coming a day early!” After running off the porch and checking with Dad to be sure he brought us out on the correct night, we continued on our way pretty sure that the evening could only get better. And it did.
We would go to visit the wonderful lady in the wheelchair; she always had a baggie full of candy, a big smile, and invited Dad in for his piece of pie. Another woman always gave us homemade cookies, and although we made Dad stay in the car, she always sent out a couple extra cookies for him. There was another house that we couldn’t keep dad out of, as the husband and wife always had some type of a treat waiting for my Dad. (My Dad must have gained weight on Halloween…and not just from the candy!) I also enjoyed how this couple’s house smelled of freshly baked foods. We would take a few minutes, sit on their couch and visit, listen to the man’s hearty laugh as he and Dad exchanged childhood stories. His wife would smile and watch for more trick or treaters, then finally jokingly cut in on the conversation of the two men to get them to stop visiting, so Dad could get us to the other houses that awaited our arrival. I was always thankful for her. I think she saw our anxious little faces speculating about how we were going to get Dad back into the car. We would load back up and head to the next house. We would never miss the woman who would invite us inside so that her daughter, who was in a wheelchair, could be sure to see us. I remember eagerly waiting to be invited inside. We would follow the woman down the hall to say hi to her daughter and show her our silly costumes, which always brought laughter and smiles to each of us.
Looking back on the evening, as an adult, I realize that it wasn’t so much the costumes we wore, although that was a fun part of it. It wasn’t all the candy we got, although it was very yummy! But I realize that the part of the evening that sticks in my heart is really two-fold. One part is that my Dad would always take the time out of his schedule, many times working extra long hours the weeks before, so he could take us on this annual adventure. He gave us the gift of his time and that was precious to us.
The gift continued as we began our visits around the neighborhood, which is the second part of the evening that touched me. We didn’t approach the houses only hungry for the candy. We realized that in each house there was a family. And the families we visited were ones that were excited to see children at their doors, and eagerly awaited our visits.
Many of those people have gone to heaven now. Although I have the privilege of living just down the road from the son of the mom who had the daughter in the wheelchair. He has since become a friend and continues to keep up on his mother’s traditions of having the house all decorated and ready for the fall season. And the man with the hearty laugh has also gone to heaven, but their home still smells of baked goods, and his wife will be anxiously watching the door for their young granddaughter to make her way up the stairs for Halloween treats from her grandma.
Our Heavenly Father challenges us, instructs us, to love and care for our neighbors. He gave us to each other to love. Yet we often don’t even know our neighbors name. We get caught up in our own needs, our own little world, forgetting that there are people who could use a visit, a gift of our time.
The gift of time touched the lives of many people that night. The sacrifices my Dad made to work extra hours that enabled him to give us the gift of time that evening, has obviously had an impact on my life. And then I remember times in my life thinking that it was a wonderful gift that we were giving people by going to their houses. Yet, I soon came to realize that it was I who was receiving the gift. As I recall those visits, I sit with tears in my eyes considering the precious neighbors that God blessed our family with, people who truly made an impact on my life, and perhaps didn’t even realize it. I thank God that He blessed me with these special people, and know that the love in their hearts continues to flow through the next generation.
Maybe there is a sacrifice of time you can make to create memories with someone near you. Perhaps there is someone who would enjoy a neighborly visit from you. I’m sure that as soon as you take the time to stop by and bless someone with your visit, God will bless you right back with the gift of a full heart that will put a sparkle in your step the rest of the day. May God bless you as you search your heart for just the right person to visit this week!
Written by: Misty Cramer, Nov '05
Reprinted with permission by Bay City times
Pictured are my granddaughters, ready to head out and make memories with their family
Misty Cramer is an author & speaker who recently released her first book. The Every Day God, 40 Daily Devotions for Walking with God through Everyday Moments, quickly made it's way to Amazon's #1 New Release and Best Seller lists in multiple categories. In this book, she authentically shares her own story to remind us all that God has a specific plan, even in the midst of life's messes. She has been married to Todd for 39 years and has five adult sons. While they enjoy their time as "empty nesters" in rural Michigan, they also love visits from their sons, two daughter-in-laws, and two granddaughters. Misty sends out a monthly devotion as part of her newsletter, and she'd love to send it along to you. The link to subscribe to the devotion, as well as the link to Misty's book can be found below:
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