I think that one of the reasons that Jen and I are such good friends is that Halloween is one of our favorite things. Like most Americans, my love of Halloween started when I was little, but not because I collected copious amounts of candy and spent the next week in an imbalance of sugar highs and hard crashes. In fact, my mother used to make me throw out the previous year’s candy before I was allowed to go Trick-or-Treating again. No, what I loved was the dressing up part of Halloween. The first costume I have vivid memories of was a handmade costume that my mom sewed: a beautiful blue Little House on the Prairie dress, complete with puff sleeves and matching bonnet. It was awesome. And that year was a particularly hot Halloween and I remember sweating like a stuck pig in that thing, but I wore it and loved it, nonetheless. (I wish that I had a picture of it to share with you.)
I also had the more traditional costumes (pirate) and some non-traditional costumes (skunk?!). My college years were great. One year my roommate and I dressed up as an old couple and no one knew our identities while several members of the men’s volleyball team dressed as the Spice Girls. So much fun!!
One year I bought an old wedding dress from a thrift store in downtown Long Beach and went to parties as the Bride of Frankenstein.
That dress was revived several years during my teaching career as well when I would stalk the halls of the school as La Llorona (a scary legend out of Mexican folklore)… that is, until I caught my heel on the 4 ft train and went down the stairs, ass-over-tea-kettle, and ended up at the bottom a bruised and bloodied mess (which probably made the costume even scarier)!
What I don’t like is when people make Halloween out to be a glorification of evil. Halloween was born out of religious traditions that take time out of the year to honor and remember those who have died. Ancient Celtic folk believed that this is the night when the veil between the spirit world and physical world was the thinnest. They built bonfires and dressed in costume to ward off evil spirits, but also believed that their loved ones who had died would come home again. They lit candles and set an extra place at their tables, inviting their loved ones’ spirits to break bread once again, a tradition that I began keeping many years ago as well.
This year, I will have a Princess Jasmine and a butterfly fairy to take Trick-or-Treating. Jen is excited that one of her kids is finally old enough to don a scary costume; Gabe is dressing as a vampire. Both of our homes are decorated with Jack O’ Lanterns and witches. And as Jen put it, what holiday could be more Christian? We open our doors freely and willingly, welcoming complete strangers with a smile. Then we give those strangers sweets and treats that we have spent our hard earned money on. What a wonderful perspective on a fun time of year!