For the first several years of his life, my son didn’t want to go trick-or-treating.
Actually, for the first couple years of his life, we just didn’t take him. He was a baby. He didn’t eat candy.
But then Ryan got older, understood the idea of dressing up in a costume, and he still didn’t go trick-or-treating. Because he didn’t want to.
One year we asked if he simply wanted to show our next-door neighbors his costume. He said no.
Now, though, we visit the homes of our closest neighbors each Halloween. Ryan always greets them with an enthusiastic “trick-or-treat” and says goodbye with a heartfelt “thank you.”
Then we come home and sort the loot into three piles. A pile for Ryan. A pile for my husband. And a pile to donate. Some years the donated candy goes with my husband to work to be shared with his co-workers. Some years, Ryan and I take the donated candy to our local fire station.
For Ryan, trick-or-treating has never been about the candy. Though chocolate is always available in our home, Ryan just isn’t a big candy-eater.
Likewise, Ryan didn’t learn that visiting Santa Claus meant asking for gifts until he was 5 years old.
We never told him.
We visited Santa at the mall. Exchanged pleasantries. Wished him a Merry Christmas, and were on our way.
It wasn’t until Ryan was in kindergarten, waiting in line for his turn to take a photo with Santa, when one of Santa’s “elves” asked Ryan what he was planning to ask Santa to bring him for Christmas.
Ryan looked at me in confusion. This was a brand new concept. Because up until then, we had always stressed the spirit of the season. The music. The decorations. The joy in finding the candle with the best fragrance for Grandma.
Ryan always received presents. Many presents. But they were always surprises. Nothing he had ever specifically asked for.
Until that year.
And even now, Ryan never asks for things he wouldn’t get. His requests are always reasonable.
It makes me proud that as parents, my husband and I are raising a son who isn’t focused, first and foremost, on what people will give him (whether it’s Halloween candy or Christmas gifts).