So as we approach Halloween I am going to share with you our Halloween tradition. Now you may wonder how on earth this is going to tie in with happiness and well-being. And when I tell you that this is something that I do with my children you may think, “Well I don’t even have children, so it’s going to be even more irrelevant to me!” But hear me out.
So I am dead against trick or treating. I used to judge people massively who went trick or treating or let their children trick or treat. And I will cover judgement in a completely different blog one day, because that is something that I am really working on – to not judge anybody. So please don’t judge me for my judgment! And I do now have a lot more tolerance for trick or treaters. But my reasons are genuine behind it, in that I once knew an elderly lady that had her home vandalised by trick or treaters that she didn’t answer the door to. And I too have had my car windows put through as a result of not answering the door. So when I say it’s a judgement, it’s more of an ingrained fear. A fear that actually drove me to park my car in overnight car parks on Halloween many years ago because I was that terrified.
But what is important to me now, as I have learnt more about judgment and re-training my anxious brain, is that I can’t tar a 3 year old walking down my street in Halloween gear with the same brush as the people that I’ve based those fears on.
Now with the basis for my beliefs laid out there I just didn’t want my children doing it, because I didn’t want to inflict that same fear on someone that had experienced what I had. So I had to find a compromise, because let’s face it, what child doesn’t want to go trick or treating?
So in desperate search for a compromise I went on Pinterest and stumbled across this apparently American tradition called ‘boo bagging’. And this is what we do now every year as a compromise. We pick out some random friends and neighbours, and we fill bags with sweets and toys, all Halloween themed loot; black and orange balloons, glow sticks, jumping pumpkins; you name it. And we make a little bag of gifts. Then in the darkness of night my children approach each house like 007 and we leave these boo bags as a surprise on the child’s doorstep. We do this about a week before Halloween. And in that bag there is a sign for them to put up in their window to say they’ve been booed, and there’s a poem with it that reads as follows:-
You’ve been boo’d
This treat is for you,
I hope you enjoy,
The idea is simple,
One I hope you’ll employ!
You pass the ‘Boo’ along to two other neighbours,
Along with any Halloween favours!
If we all do our part,
And spread the good cheer,
By Halloween night,
It will be very clear…
We are a friendly bunch,
We like to share fun!
So please help us keep
‘Boo’ on the run!
The idea is that apparently this tradition is carried out in streets where they will ‘boo bag’ their neighbours, and once the sign goes up to say they’ve been booed, other neighbours know they’ve already received a surprise and look for a neighbour without a sign in their window to leave their gift. So everybody, in theory, receives a boo bag, and the joy of receiving a surprise gift is passed on throughout the street. Hence why we put ours out about a week before Halloween.
And we have had such a wonderful response to this. We don’t tell people that it is us, and I feel that I’m giving my children that amazing feeling of being able to give without needing thanks. Which is actually a wonderful feeling, as I’m sure Santa Claus will testify to when he sees a child’s little face light up on Christmas morning! It’s that same feeling of knowing that you’ve made somebody happy. And that is what this blog is really about.
A massive source of happiness is giving and making other people happy. There are a lot of things, and I’ll cover as and when appropriate, that I do to give to people. And it’s pretty much always anonymous. And I find the thought of somebody out there thinking, “Wow, somebody’s thought of me in my hour of need, or has thought to leave a boo bag for my child on our doorstep,” just absolutely fills me with joy. So this post is meant to inspire. It’s meant to make us think that maybe times of the year that bring a bit of fear or bad memories can be turned into something good if we just think outside the box.
My children always get boo bagged back too. Admittedly it’s usually Mummy that comes to the rescue. But every now and then if we’re caught on CCTV and our identities are discovered, one of the recipients may drop the girls a boo bag back. And their little faces and screams of joy… They forget all about knocking on people’s door to demand sweets or money because they’re so chuffed and touched and surprised by what’s in that gift, that it makes me literally cry with joy to watch. I feel it’s just such an important lesson to teach them. It fills me with joy and I am more than happy to put the time, effort and money into this little project each year to make all these children happy. And it really has inspired other people. When we’ve been caught on CCTV we have been told by other mums that they absolutely loved the idea, they think it’s brilliant, and they’ve passed it on themselves. So the joy has carried on further into the community. Hearing that just really makes my day.
And of course there is a great metaphor for life in this article. We are all fearful of different things. What excites one of us fills the next with dread. Is jumping out of a plane on your bucket list or does the thought of even looking up at a parachute send you dizzy? Our thoughts build our reality, so if we can change our thoughts we can change our reality. If something fills you with dread or fear look for a way to change how you feel about it. You may not always be able to do that, but to be aware that there’s a possibility of changing your thoughts that might actually lead you to happiness is a great place to start.
So this is just a little bit of inspiration for anybody looking for something different to do at this time of year. Let me know if you do boo bag your friends or neighbours. And let me know what your children thought of the idea. And for any American readers, please get in touch and let me know if this is genuinely a tradition over there, because nobody in England has ever heard of this! And I just think it’s absolutely fantastic. So I really am interested to know if this does go on in America. And even if you don’t have children I think this would be lovely to do to your friends and neighbours. There’s some great ideas on Pinterest for adult Halloweeen gifts, maybe a bottle of wine wrapped like a mummy with the same ‘boo’ sign and poem attached. Spread some joy and see how it lifts your own spirits, because little random acts of kindness just absolutely make my day!