Why I Love Halloween

(from an essay I only excerpted last year)

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been in love with Halloween. Maybe you’d think it was the treats. When I was a kid we didn’t have candy very often at our house – only on holidays or vacations – so it was deeply appealing to end up with a full bag of Hershey’s chocolate and pixie stix. Maybe you’d think it was the costumes – I loved dressing up and we had trunks full of old gowns, hats, and props in the cellar. Maybe you’d think it was the celebration – the last school day before the 31st was always fabulous:  story time with the lights turned down, special songs in minor keys, and on your desk after last recess a collection of orange and black cup cakes, cookies, and pop corn balls secreted in by stealthy moms.

But I think my love of the holiday was more about that magical combination of light and dark. My earliest Halloween memory, the October I was three, I remember stepping out our front door after dark, dressed as a princess in a flower girl gown and fake crown, flanked by my sisters who were 9 and 11. It was wonderful. I was entering a world of shadows and mystery (and I’ll admit I was a bit of a scaredy-cat) but with my protectors beside me, I was safe.  Children darted by on the sidewalks dressed as skeletons and monsters, but underneath I knew they were just children like us. People’s yards were thick with cardboard tombstones and pipe cleaner spiders, but when we knocked and the doors opened, faces beamed at us as sweet as those of our own aunts and uncles.

I liked the light – the laughter and sweets and playfulness of it all. But honestly, I found I  preferred the darkness between streetlights. I liked not knowing precisely who was behind each mask. I liked the corny sound effects records of moaning spirits and even the neighbors who opened their doors with wolfman masks on and made me hide my face. I loved how even the kids in the lightest, easiest to see costumes–white sheets and pale fairy dresses–would fade like ghosts as they moved down the block. I loved the glow of jagged toothed jack-o-lanterns in the blackness and the smell of burning pumpkins and wax, of rotting dead leaves in the gutters and cinnamon cider. I loved the dizzying tracks of flashlights dancing like sprites, leading us through the night.

So, I guess it’s not surprising that I grew up to write about ghosts and Fetches or that on the 31st I’ll be hosting another Supernatural Tea Party. Can’t help myself; every October I become a kid again.

I so look forward to my son’s second Halloween. Coming soon, pictures of a 19 pound, two foot high Harry Potter.   =)


2 Responses to “Why I Love Halloween”

  1. adel medina Says:

    feel the same way! awsome essay i love hallooween!

  2. el' Johnson Says:

    Halloween is the greatest holiday. It’s pure imagination. Fear and whimsy melted together and celebrated during probably the most beautiful season of all.

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