This is an old picture of Jonathan that I got developed a couple of weeks ago from a roll of film I'd found.
He was two.
That year, for Halloween, I dressed him in those brown corduroy overalls, stuck some felt reindeer antlers from the previous Christmas on his head, and painted his nose red with my brightest lipstick. "You're Rudolf!" I told him, trying to be enthusiastic. He was less than impressed.
Our family had not been in the habit of trick-or-treating because at that time we went to a church where the cardinal sin was Halloween. All churches seem to have their own definitions of cardinal sins. Some choose Halloween, some choose alcohol, some choose
Santa Claus, and some choose judgmentalism. But that is an aside, and I am not going to pursue it.
Anyway, we had not been in the habit of trick-or-treating, but I had decided that I could not handle one more "Fall Festival" at church, with the screaming, the grabbing, the overload of sticky sugar and the flickering fluorescent lights. I'm sure those Fall Festivals are a blessing to many families, but that year I decided that we would take our chances at being a part of the neighborhood scene.
I loaded up my disgruntled Rudolf in his stroller and started out for the house next door. We pulled up, and I lifted Jon-Jon up to ring the doorbell and then set him in front of the door.
It opened and the kindly neighbors exclaimed delightedly over how cute Jon-Jon was. They gave him a candy bar, and then said, "Oh, you're so cute, why don't you pick another one?" He happily selected another bar and placed it in his plastic pumpkin. I prompted him to say thank you, and they said you're welcome, and there was a happy parting greeting and the door closed.
Jon-Jon stood there on the step, looking up at me with huge, stunned brown eyes. "I ringed da doorbell, and dey gived me tandy!" he said with awe and amazement.
Shawn says that at that moment a door-to-door salesman was born. At any rate, the rest of the evening, Jon had a ball going from door to door, collecting "tandy." To say that he was thrilled is putting it mildly.
Jon was always a master trick-or-treater. He had a seemingly endless attention span for visiting house after house, ringing doorbell after doorbell, long after the other kids would give up and go home to count their stash. He got tall really fast, so in seventh and eighth grade, he wore our Santa suit, and I would buy him a bag of peppermints to hand out to the little kids in the street who thought he really was Santa. By doing this, Jon extended his fruitful trick-or-treating to well after he had hit six feet in height. Even when he was traveling with a posse of kids his own age, he would report to me (with a twinkle in his eye) that the people gave him loads more candy than they gave to the other kids, because they loved his costume.
I thought of that because today is Halloween. Today is also the marching band state championships, so Shawn and I will be at the Syracuse dome watching Jonno compete with his marching band. After thirteen years of being good sports about Halloween in a neighborhood where you get upwards of 200 trick-or-treaters... this year, we are going to vacate and pursue another option.
Marching band is an interesting thing. You have to pay a lot of money to do marching band, because they have uniforms and trips and all manner of props for the field. It is a costly endeavor. Of course, since it is a public school we go to, they don't want to just straight up charge us, so they ask us to fundraise.
I never liked fundraising. Every year, the schools have some sort of fundraising event, and every year, I used to pitch the materials directly into the recycling bin, and nobody ever complained until Jon came along. "Can't I fundraise, please?" he would beg.
When he was about eight, he found a bag of cheap, penny candy in the cupboard, and took it around the block selling single tootsie rolls and dum-dums for 25 cents apiece. By the time I caught up with him, he had over $4, and the entire bag (which was still mostly full) had cost me $1.97. It was supposed to be prizes for my Sunday school class.
When I finally let Jon fundraise in middle school, he won the grand prize. And this with no parental support, no local relatives, and no orders from his father's office. We had a monster of a time trying to deliver the orders, because although he's a good seller, keeping records is not his strong suit. His grand prize consisted of multitudinous cheap electronic gimicky things that had very limited uses and very short lives.
But when we found out we needed to fundraise for Marching Band, at least I did not despair. True to form, Jon proved to be able to sell a box of 50 $1 candy bars in 45 minutes most afternoons.
Except one day. One really hot summer day, Jon went out with his box of candy to sell, and did not come back in 45 minutes. He did not come back in an hour. After an hour and 15 minutes, I began to worry. After an hour and a half, he returned, but he was not carrying an empty box. He still had 12 bars left.
Jon plunked his stuff down on the kitchen table and went to get a drink, complaining of how very, very hot it was outside, and how it was so hard to sell that day.
I looked at the things on the table, and noticed his obnoxious orange mirrored sunglasses sprawled next to the candy box. "Were you wearing these?" I asked, picking them up.
"I needed to!" he replied, "The sun is just beating down!"
"Well, that's why you couldn't sell, honey," I said. "People would feel threatened buying from someone who is over six feet tall and wearing mirrored sunglasses. Next time try a baseball cap. People would love to buy from a boy with big brown eyes and a baseball cap."
He poo-pooed me and insisted that had nothing do with it. However, the next time he went out to sell, he put on a baseball cap and was back with an empty box in 45 minutes.
Moral of the story? Santa suits and baseball caps go a long way when you aren't two-years-old anymore.