It's not just about the candy
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 13:10
The Day of the Dead. Samhain. All Hallows’ Eve. Whatever we call it, it’s the same holiday – Halloween.
It’s the first true holiday of autumn and, to me, it’s the most fun.
On Halloween adults and kids get to play dress-up and go out to celebrate the last days of pleasant weather before old man winter comes to take it all away. We can all partake of the revelry, planning parties and putting together elaborate costumes, buying, giving away and consuming entirely too much candy, and it’s all socially acceptable.
I used to have some neighbors down the street who, every year, would turn their garage into a miniature house of horrors. Above the cavernous maw of the garage door would be posted a replica of the gates of hell, with a sign nearby reading “Abandon hope ye who enter here.” Inside, mummies, skeletons, coffins occupied by vampires greeted young and old alike. They really got into Halloween, and we always made a point of visiting them, even if we’d already taken the kids around the block twice.
People who like Halloween all have their own traditions. One of mine is hand-made costumes. I don’t like the flimsy costumes you get from the store – they’re cheaply made, too thin for the weather and they don’t last more than a year. So ever since my kids have been old enough to appreciate the fun, I’ve made a point of either sewing their costumes, or piecing them together from mix-and-match clothes and bits. There’s a Hogwarts “Ravenclaw” robe in the closet that’s now in its seventh year of service; my oldest wore it when she was 7 and now my youngest is wearing it this year. I made it out of polar fleece so it’s usable at about any latitude.
This tradition can produce some unique costumes that prompt more questions than answers. Last year, for instance, my older daughter went as the “Empty Child” from Doctor Who (Google it if you’re curious). She wore a gas mask, jacket and boots and instead of “Trick or treat” she said “Are you my mummy?” Kind of obscure, yes, but Doctor Who fans got it. This year we pieced together a 1940’s-style steampunk outfit with clothes and bits that will last at least another year, and may even be passed on to her sister.
I like recycling costumes.
In another month we’ll be looking forward to Thanksgiving, when our crazy uncle Fred gets in an argument with aunt Betty over some political nonsense, and half the male family units fall asleep on the sofa watching football while the womenfolk clean up the wreckage of another annual poultry and pig slaughter. Then there will be the annual Black Friday shopper stampedes, the endless barrage of sale ads exhorting us to spend! spend! spend! in the final marathon sprint to Christmas.
With all that tumult coming down the pipe, it’s nice to know there’s still one holiday that hasn’t been turned into a months-long, overly commercialized moneyfest. Despite corporate America’s best efforts. So let’s all enjoy this Halloween. Because it’s not just about the candy; it’s about the fun.