I live on a military installation. Have I mentioned that before? I believe I have.
For years, I have witnessed the delightful Halloween tradition of “booing“ in military housing. My kids love it and harass me from the first day of October on as to when I think we might get “boo–ed“ ourselves.
“Booing“ consists of placing (under the cloak of darkness) a fun treat on a neighbor’s porch. There is always a note with instructions on how to pay the fun forward. In turn, neighbors post on the neighborhood Facebook page their surprises as well as a thank-you or two. Newly PCS’d families get to know the current residents and a natural neighborhood bond begins to form.
While exciting and fun, “booing“ has its downside. One year it may be my children, frozen with fear, refusing to get out of the car as we approach our targeted house. Because it is late, I’m in pajamas (my Mother says that is pedestrian) and I’m forced to run onto a neighbor’s porch so as not to ruin the moment. The next year, it’s me driving away too quickly thinking I have all the children but in fact I do not. Before you judge, imagine seven children jumping into a car screaming GO! GO! GO! It all gets very confusing. I quickly glance in my rearview mirror and see child #5 frantically running after the car. In an instant she is gone having flipped over a hedge hidden in the October darkness.
Childhood memories my children. You are welcome.
Where are the MPs when all this is going on? I ask myself that very same question every single year.
With each “boo“ after-action and a newly presented game plan, I convince myself and the children it will be different, but it never is. I’m a glutton for punishment and the shattered dreams that only a made up Hallmark holiday can bring.
There was however, one year that still remains our most memorable for the most unlikely of reasons.
The month of September was coming to a close and the “boo“ harassment package, compliments of my children had begun. We chose our families, mapped out our game plan and went shopping. Some years we choose new families whose children might appreciate feeling welcomed after yet another military move; but this particular year, we chose the best friends of two of my children. Because of this, I went a little overboard. I purchased above and beyond what I should have and was happy to do it. Candy, toys, a small piece of clothing…all shoved into the “boo“ buckets.
Proud was an understatement. Dressed in black, I piled six ninja children into my 15 passenger van and began the slow creep through housing. My kids were phenomenal. No crying, no falling, no freezing in fear, no forgetting part of the team.
The next morning I went over to one of the homes and let the mom know it was our family that had “boo–ed“ them. We were (and still are) good friends and in a prideful moment I wanted to hear how truly awesome her family thought our boo bucket was.
“Oh, it was you?” she asked with eyes downcast.
“Yes! What did you think?”
“Well,” She began sheepishly. “My husband refused to allow the children to have it and he threw it all away.”
Wait. What? Wait.
I live on a military installation. Have I mentioned that before? I think I have.
Level intensity. High. All day, every day.
I walked away and while disappointed, understood the mindset of her husband. What I know to be true is that every man and woman that wears the uniform in this great country of ours is a shepherd at heart. They are always watching, always observing, always ready to protect. In that moment, I realized that our military professionals cannot separate who they are moment to moment. A protection mentality is at the very core of their being.
Having never donned the uniform, I cannot fully appreciate nor understand why anthrax contaminated candy immediately came to my neighbor’s mind. I will say with confidence though, as an American citizen with Marines as neighbors, I will sleep soundly this Halloween night.