Halloween and Christmas in the Same Week? Why This Town Made It Happen

Ethan Van Leuven celebrates Halloween early
Image via TODAY

If you strip all the excess fat from holiday traditions like presents and candy and egg-laying rabbits and gold-hoarding dwarves and naked baby archers, holidays really share the same core:


Family is what makes eating soggy bread that was shoved up a turkey's booty at Thanksgiving palatable; family is what makes it all worth it to wake up at 6 o'clock in the morning (6 a.m. is beyond too early for me) to open presents that were left the night before by a bearded Arctic dweller; and family is what makes it worth it to sit through the most humiliating 27 seconds of the year. No, not Valentine's Day or your wedding anniversary. The time it takes to deal with hearing “Happy Birthday” sung to you.

Family makes holidays worth it. But sometimes, that chance to celebrate the holidays with our loved ones eludes us, and life slips away.

MORE: 6 Tips for Coping with Loss during the Holidays }

Ethan Van Leuven is a 4-year-old boy from Utah who has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He was diagnosed with this condition when he was two months away from hitting his tw0-year mark. After some experimental treatment and a bone-marrow transplant from his younger brother (remember, Ethan was just 2 years old when he had this operation, so his brother was super little when he helped his big brother out), Ethan, along with his family, experienced some peace with his cancer in remission.

MORE:  Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia }

Unfortunately, the cancer came back, and that temporary peace was ended when doctors said he had anywhere from two days to two weeks to live.

In an interview with TODAY, Merrill Van Leuven, Ethan's dad, said, “So the doctors basically said, he’s got two days to a couple of weeks left to live, and so that's when we thought we would make the most of the last days he has remaining with us,”

Hearing this, the community in which he lived decided to do something a little bit different this year. For the little town of West Jordan, Utah, Halloween was going make an appearance on October 21, Ethan's November birthday would be celebrated in October this year (complete with a parade in his honor), and Santa would roll into town a little early this year.

The entire community welcomed Santa this year by putting up their Christmas lights early, packing Ethan's front yard with Christmas carolers, and performing the Nativity scene nearby. Oh yeah, and one of the local radio stations made the time even more festive by putting Christmas songs on the air.

Last Saturday, which would be Ethan's last weekend with his family, the entire Van Leuven family opened Christmas gifts together to cap off an amazing holiday season.

Little Ethan passed away on October 28 at 10:20 a.m.

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Halloween and Christmas in the Same Week? Why This Town Made It Happen

Jace Whatcott is a self-diagnosed introvert who loves crossword puzzles, golf, and reading. Despite being a male contributor—one of the few on this particular website—he is not in unfamiliar territory. Because he is an English major, 90% of his classmates are females, so he’s not too worried about being a fish out of water. One of his favorite things to do is to raid local thrift stores for used books. He’s always looking for something to read, or for something to put on his endless to-r ... More

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