For years I made the same spiders out of Styrofoam balls cut in half and painted black. I faithfully jammed eight pipe cleaners (chenille wires if you’re writing Sunday School curriculum and shouldn’t encourage “pipe” anything) into their little bodies and glued on two googly eyes. Many many many times over, year in and year out. They came around every time I helped with one of my own kids’ October parties at school and even sometimes when I was a teacher myself and secretly wishing Halloween would just go away. Teachers need extra love at Halloween, FYI.
Seriously, these spiders were everywhere and they were popular with the Under 10 Crowd. They were also just about the pinnacle of my artistic prowess so I was pretty proud of the little buggers. Out there in the world it’s quite possible there are hundreds of them smashed into full-grown men and women’s keepsake boxes their mothers lovingly stashed to overflowing and which their new spouses immediately thought were crazy shortly after their marriage and threatened to toss–wait, I drifted there a little. Anyway, there were lots of spiders.
Then one year it was all over. Bam. Nobody wanted a googly-eyed pipe cleaner-legged spider anymore. Sophistication didn’t embrace Styrofoam. Or googly eyes. The demand bottomed out and I didn’t know what to do with myself at Halloween. It was weird and it gave me an unfamiliar pit in my stomach.
I’ve grown accustomed to that pit-in-the-stomach feeling during the decades since my kids were little and were growing out of funny little traditions, leaving me standing there in the kitchen with a hot glue gun wondering what happened. And no, it’s not all boohoo sadness and drama. It’s also goodness and pride. A lot of surprises. And also some issues, just like families everywhere go through in different arenas. But mostly amazement and bountiful thankfulness. Everybody survived having me as a parent! Part of me is even secretly glad I don’t have to be a room mother anymore. And although attending thousands of band and choir concerts (maybe that’s an exaggeration, but hey, this is my space) was an honor and a privilege, well, I’ve moved on there too.
Little traditions are fun. They create the stuff that binds us together around future family dinner tables and make the grandkids wonder what’s going on. Everyone has their own interpretation of memories. Conversations are occasionally hilarious and always precious. I’ll take all I can get of that. And more. I always want more.
When the October spiders and costumes get put away and I hide all the candy I don’t want the kids to eat because I want it for myself, I’ll put up the traditional homemade poster I constructed when I was a student teacher back in the dark ages entitled “November Comes.” It always appears at our house on November 1. (Yes, I still do the putting-up-the-poster part even though I don’t get to steal candy from my kids anymore.) And there’ll be that old pit in my stomach of rushing memories, but this time it’s because of the goodness of children, the chaos of family, and the blessing of every bit of it.
What a wonderful world. Spiders and all.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.