Hallowe’en has always been one of my favorite days of the year. When I was a child of 7 or 8, and perhaps even younger, I’d enjoy dressing up in a costume and going to school. I always admired and appreciated the creativity of the other kids and their families as we’d circle the schoolyard for our annual Hallowe’en Parade. There were ghosts, goblins, witches, and super heroes. There were clowns, mummies, princesses, and draculas. The variety seemed endless! Some kids would have the usual store-bought costumes, but the ones I enjoyed most were the clever, homemade ones. I’ll never forget one fellow in my 5th grade class painted a big cardboard box (very accurately, I might add) and came dressed as a big box of laundry detergent!
My mom was always struck by the Hallowe’en spirit too, for she’d always decorate our small city apartment with pumpkins, indian corn, and autumn leaves. Their bright, cheerful colors always seemed to make things better, no matter what family drama might have been going on. Before I became big enough to do things on my own, Mom would help me create my costumes. Whether I’d be in the guise of a swashbuckling pirate, a civil war cavalry officer, or an old west sheriff, she’d sometimes work into the late hours on the night before Hallowe’en, sewing, gluing, and painting.
But no matter what the costumes might be, the highlight of the day would always be when we’d go trick-or-treating on those dark and spooky autumn nights. We had a wonderful tradition of going to my cousins’ house, where we could scarcely wait for the sky to darken and the moon to rise. We’d fuss and fidget all through dinner, pestering our parents with every bite.
“Is it dark enough yet?”
“What time can we go?”
“Was that the doorbell?”
“Can we go now, puleeeeeeeese?”
Finally, with an exasperated shake of the head, an eye roll, and a knowing grin, one of our parents would surrender! Like curled, dry leaves fleeing the cold wind, my cousins and I would don our masks and race from the house. With empty sacks waiting to be filled with all manner of candy and treats, we’d fly through the neighborhood. Racing from house to house, the three of us (and many other neighbor cretins) would trample across lawns and stumble shamelessly through any flower beds that might find themselves along our darkened way.
Some homes were “haunted”, of course, and those were the most fun. Witches and demons crouched behind their doors, all waiting for innocent and unsuspecting fingers to press on doorbell buttons. Surprised by the frightening spectacles that greeted us, we’d shriek in delight, forget to collect our candy, and run, giggling breathlessly, to the next house.
Now that I’m all “grown up”, my teenage son and I have turned the tables. It’s our turn to scare the daylights out of the neighborhood trick-or-treaters! Sometime during the week before Hallowe’en, our front yard turns mysteriously into a graveyard with an abundance of realistic gravestones, creepy creatures, and human remains (all fake, of course!). A low-hanging fog, flashes of lightning, and some spooky sound effects (mostly thunder and scary music) send scores of the more adventurous souls screaming down our driveway–and I suppose our stumbling zombie characters do a great deal to “help” them along their way!
It’s sometimes difficult for some to imagine, but there are some who truly fear Hallowe’en. From its history, they feel it is a practice that feeds into satanic or negative ideals. While there may be a slight element of truth to this, I prefer to think of it as an opportunity–an opportunity to help us embrace and even overcome some of our deepest fears. When we can face the “monsters” of our own making, learn to make “light” of them, and appreciate the experiences and lessons they bring, we often discover that we no longer fear them. We find that they no longer have any power–because we are the ones who can choose to not be afraid! When we find our own power under the light of this Truth, things like darkness, death, and the unknown lose their fearful sting. In their place, we are often able to discover balance and a newfound sense of peace.
So be not afraid! Face those “demons”! Then pat ’em on the head, shout “BOO!”, and toss a piece of candy in their bag. If one chooses to look at things in that way, Hallowe’en can be a whole lot of fun–for kids of all ages!
With Love (and lots of candy),
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