Holidays sure are different when you have little ones, and the same holds true when you’re a military family. This past Halloween was Matt and Nate’s third, and they’ve spent all three in different places!
For their first Halloween, when they were only 4 months old, we were at my parents’ house in Brooklyn, New York. Keith had gotten wounded in Afghanistan three weeks earlier and was recuperating at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, so my dad, my aunt, and I took the boys trick-or-treating to a few neighbors’ houses in my old neighborhood. The twins had no idea what was going on, of course, but they sure looked cute!
For their second Halloween, we were in Colorado Springs. We trick-or-treated with some close friends and their kids, but the boys were only 16 months old and still not very into it.
This year, though, the boys knew exactly what was going on, and they were way into it! They chose to be firemen, and I went a little overboard buying them their gear—full costumes complete with jackets and pants with suspenders, helmets, boots, and even little oxygen-tank backpacks with axes. They looked adorable! Keith also took it a step further and built a fire engine out of cardboard boxes to fit around their double stroller. He spray-painted it and drew on details to make it look like the Station 51 fire truck from the TV show “Emergency!” It turned out great!
Keith and I even wore costumes to coordinate with the boys’ outfits. I made a dalmatian costume by cutting spots out of black felt and gluing them onto a white shirt. Then I bought some dalmatian ears and a tail, a red choker, and some black face paint for my nose, and I was good to go. Keith dressed as fire. He cut out flames from orange and red poster board and pinned them onto a red baseball cap, and wore it with an orange shirt. Easy peasy!
I have to say that Halloween in Southern California rocks. A few weeks ago we went to a real farm in Irvine, called Tanaka Farms, to pick our pumpkins. We got to pick the pumpkins right off the vine, and the views were killer.
Then, on October 21, we went to Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland. The boys got to practice trick-or-treating at Mickey’s house, Minnie’s house, and various stations around the park. There was a fun Halloween parade and an amazing fireworks show at Sleeping Beauty’s castle. What a great event!
So by the time actual Halloween rolled around, Matt and Nate were ready! We met some great friends here, another RAND Army fellow and his wife and four kids. We went to their house for dinner and then trick-or-treated from there. Going door to door on Halloween with warm weather and palm trees was pretty surreal. I also felt like we were in a movie because we chose a popular street, so there were droves of people out, all dressed up, and many of the houses were really done up with lights and figures and sound effects. It was just what I always imagined Halloween should be like.
And here is my tale of two firefighters!
Next year, we’ll be at yet another new place on Halloween—our new home in the Washington, D.C. area! So Matt and Nate can one day look back at their first four Halloweens and know they spent each of them in a different place. Pretty cool, huh?
Another cool thing about being in a military family is that we get to celebrate an extra holiday in November/December—Veteran’s Day. This year Keith will have the opportunity to hit baseballs at Dodger Stadium at a special event honoring veterans, so he’s pretty excited for that.
Then we head to New York for Thanksgiving for the first time in several years. Christmas will be here in California. It is the first Christmas EVER that I won’t be spending in New York, and while that makes me a bit sad, I’m excited to see what Christmas was like for Keith growing up in LA. Also, we have a lot of family coming to visit. And Matt and Nate will get to wake up in their own home on Christmas morning, which is not always a given for military kids. Bring on the holidays!