A Note on Sunday’s Tragedy: Before I continue with this week’s post, I am again saddened by a senseless shooting. My head once more tries to make sense of the November 5th church assault in Sutherland Springs, TX. My heart is numb with the news as in the past, stuck between the tragic question of why this continues to happen and extreme frustration as we ask society to make it stop. We have some dark citizens out there, under the radar, who have a twisted sense of right and wrong, and weapons to destroy without conscience. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this event. I do believe thoughts and prayers are essential for getting through this. I also pray for and seek to help build a safer society. My own church has a security team as a precaution. Disturbing. We share our world with persons whose light has gone out in their souls. They stumble in their personal dark with no sense of consequence and no regard for the impact of pain that rips through society. Truly scary stuff. May it end now. Please.
On to this week’s post…
This past week, Halloween happened. I have a love-hate relationship with Halloween for various reasons. Maybe you do, too. I have friends who love it. It is their favorite holiday. I have friends who want nothing to do with it. There is debate on the origins of the holiday. I won’t go in to that here. I’m split on the holiday, and focus on the parts I enjoy. What about you?
What I Love…
- Kids Dressing Up: I love the cute costumes on babies and happy children. This year my friend sent me a photo of her twin granddaughters dressed as storybook character Madeline. So adorable!
- Homemade Costumes: I love the clever homemade costumes that bring families and friends together to create them. My mom made us amazing costumes when we were little. My dad helped me create a “Cousin Itt” costume in sixth grade, and I won first prize at a party! Still proud. My grandmother made a costume for me one year, too. Precious memories.
- Trick or Treating: I love that one night a year kids and families come to our house for a smile and a treat. It is a fun way to briefly connect with neighbors, as well as van loads of kids dropped off from who knows where by parents who are trick-or-treating professionals.
- Pumpkins, Mums, Hay Bales, Leaves, & Candy Corn: I love the brightness and cheerfulness of pumpkins, candy corn, hay bales, fall flowers, oranges and purples and burgundy and yellows. The festive side of Halloween can be beautiful!
- Fun at School: Costume parades, special activities, teachers dressing up – all the fun at school is a good time. As a former teacher, we had fun on Halloween school days!
- Traditions: One family gathers around bowls of chili for Halloween dinner each year, before heading out to trick-or-treat. Another couple of families I know invite friends and neighbors over for food and conversation, while some of the adults take the kids out for trick-or-treating. My husband and I often set up dinner on our front porch, and dine between handing out mini-chocolate bars. Fun traditions make an event your own and give people something to look forward to and good times to remember after. Speaking of traditions…
- It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: I love this cartoon from my childhood, as grainy and choppy and simple as the animation is, compared to Pixar. It is an October classic for me, connecting me emotionally to my childhood traditions. And the story never gets old. I choose one night in late October as “The Great Pumpkin Night.” I’ll make a special simple dinner and usually bake a treat. This year I made Snickerdoodles – such a great cookie! And anything cinnamon says autumn to me. Some years I make haystacks candy, with chocolate and chow mein noodles, and little candy pumpkins. For instructions, click on the link in the photo caption. You can use butterscotch instead of chocolate.
- Fun & Creativity: My friend, Amy, does some great creative things for Halloween. Check out her blog: Tonality Designs
- Welcome to the Holiday Season! Halloween calls us on into a special holiday season and all the great things that come with honoring what’s meaningful for us with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s for many. As well as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa for others. Along with that comes cooler air, apple season, shorter days, soup, and hot cocoa. And we celebrate the good together with friends and family.
What I Do Not Appreciate…
I was fonder of the dark stuff as a young person, and enjoyed things like The Legend of Sleep Hollow and The Tell Tale Heart. I volunteered in a scary event called the Youth for Christ Scream in the Dark, playing the part of a head on a platter. But that is not for me now. Not a fan of Knott’s Scary Farm and things like that. That is fun for some, but not me.
In addition, I don’t like…
- Money Spent: It blows my mind to see statistics for retail sales related to Halloween. Retail stores have capitalized on this holiday, and it is clear in stores and in front yards. Americans spend a lot of money on this season. The Balance, a financial newsletter, says, “Halloween retail spending is projected to be $9.1 billion in 2017. That’s a new record.” And candy to hand out is not cheap!
- Those Big Spider Decorations: Every year something new is sold to adorn the front yard. This year I noticed the BIG spiders on houses. The creep factor on that is too much. And Halloween is over people! Take those things down! I want to drive to work without getting the willies!
- Bad Costumes & Decorations: This is a broad category of distasteful outfits in my opinion. Subcategories include:
- Sexy costumes: These just aggravate me since they tend to objectify women and are often worn by young women in risky party situations. This encourages thoughts and behaviors toward women that do not help us build a better world.
- Bloody costumes and decorations
- Horror costumes and decorations
- Haunted costumes and decorations
- So basically anything that is not playful and fun and connects to evil
- Junk Food: Parents are often so good about rationing candy after the trick-or-treat loot has been collected, and I guess moderation is the key. I’m not going to be that lady who hands out an apple or steamed broccoli, but Halloween can be an exercise in good eating and making the occasional exception, if done responsibly.
- Chocolate and Child Slavery: This is a heartache of the chocolate industry for me. I try to buy fair trade, but it can be challenging to find. I do not mind if it costs more.
- Creepy Clowns: I need not say more, but there was even a scary billboard in town featuring a very scary clown. How do mommas drive around town and protect their little ones from spooky images and yard decorations?
- Dog Costumes: Just kidding. There are some wonderful dog costumes. Sometimes I feel sorry for the dogs, but do they ever feel humiliation? I doubt it. But my dog in the pumpkin headband and toy in his mouth looks a little annoyed with me.
When it comes to Halloween, give me the cute, the clever, the fun. Maybe I’ve wimped out in my older years. Maybe reality is scary enough at times. Anyway, handing out candy with a smile is a sweet time for kids. And me.
Stay charming, my friends!