Traditionally on Halloween our family visits a ghostly, wildly decorated house in town. The owners go all out with spooky embellishments complete with a graveyard, a pirate ship that shoots ‘cannons’ every 15 minutes, and zombies. For decades they’ve hired town police to direct traffic and allow crowds of people to walk through their yard and into their foyer.
This year, our 12-year-old was busy with other Halloween festivities and opted out of this annual ritual. Our older kids are now adults and do their own thing, but I thought we had a few more years of visiting the Halloween house.
Going once would have been enough for me, but the kids loved going, so I went along with them year after year. Halloween is not my favorite holiday. Braving the unpredictable Autumn weather in a long line to see haunted decorations is not my ideal evening. Why, then, did a splash of melancholy wash over me when we said good-bye to this tradition? Maybe because it’s a change; an end of an era?
Human beings don’t like change. It’s scary. It means we need to venture into the unknown.
The reality is that change happens constantly. It’s both predictable and unpredictable. While our individual lives are in a constant state of change, the path of life itself is somewhat clear. There will be surprises and things will sometimes be out of order, but we can generally review how it’s supposed to go based on how it went for those before us. History tells us what it’s like to go through recessions, wars, political uncertainty, and social ambiguity.
I’ve been reflecting on change a little more these days. My two oldest children moved out to live on their own recently. Not quite an empty nest, but the house is different without them home. It’s a good change for all of us. It’s good for me to let go and it’s good for them to be independent. It’s also quite typical. Yet, like discontinuing the annual visit to the Halloween house, I was unprepared for it to happen. I knew it would happen ‘someday’, but ‘someday’ wasn’t yet. There are now new thoughts, new feelings, and new worries to navigate.
While my life changes in this way, I can look to other moms whose lives have changed in the same way. I have a roadmap to foresee what’s supposed to happen after raising a child for 20 something years.
The point is life changes for all of us, but not for all of us at once. We go through seasons of life where seemingly nothing changes. You know, the times you’re asked, “What’s new?” and the response is “Same old, same old.” While other times, the same question is answered by “I got a new job, we welcomed a new puppy into our lives, and we sold our house…”.
To say you hate change is to say you hate life because the one thing that is certain is that change will occur. Instead of denying it, ignoring it, and resisting it, we should roll with it, expect it, embrace it, prepare for it, and experience it. Sometimes life sucks and it sucks when the changes that happen break your heart or are unfair. But life is beautiful when the changes are good. To miss out on the sucky changes, is to miss out on the beautiful changes.
Halloween is different for my family now than it was then. It’s ok, we can create new traditions, or do something different every year. I don’t even like Halloween, so what’s the difference? Life changes, traditions change. For this one, I’ll give it the sendoff it deserves, hold the memories in my heart, and make new ones.
“There is nothing permanent except change.” – Heraclitus
Tell me this: How do you deal with life’s changes?