Hi. My name is Alice and I have been a Halloween hoarder for at least six years.
I have an inability to part with my Halloween possessions. I have realized that the largest collection in my home is not of shoes or scarves (ahem…Emily) or my prized mix-matched blue and white plates & bowls or my endless cleaning supplies for Gennie (my car). Not even of Christmas decorations, which becomes larger than one would hope once you have kids. Nope. It is Halloween paraphernalia.
In the normal tendency to blame our parents for anything in life, I’d like to specifically blame my dad for my addiction. He was always one to go to extremes for Halloween. I remember one party specifically that was held at our house when I was young. The house was rigged with flying ghosts, coffins that opened and frozen hand shakes. Food included bowls full of authentic-feeling-slimy-like eyeballs and mushy-noodle-like brains all set against the background of creepy music. It made my childhood explode with imaginative terror. And I loved it. We all did. It was one more thing we did every year as a family…decorating, jumping out of caskets, wearing ridiculous masks and scaring helpless little children. It was a night to be something other than yourself. A night of possibilities and it was great fun.
Growing up Catholic, the tradition at our church was to dress up as one of the saints on the day after Halloween, which happens to be All Saints Day. Clearly, just another Christian adaptation to a pagan festival. So there we would be, at church: a bunch of kids in disheveled robes, with some kind of belt/sash, sandals, a halo and some kind of relic to help describe who you might possibly be, just in case the drab robe didn’t give it away. Not so fun and clearly not so memorable, as we never got candy (just the body/blood of Christ) and I couldn’t tell you today one single saint I might have dressed up as. (I wish I had been smart enough to take it to extreme. Joan of Arc really could have been a kick ass costume, but I digress.) Honestly, I believe the reason why it wasn’t fun is likely because of the limitations around it (imagine 50+ kids in robes…pretty lackluster) and also lacking was the community or family involvement. Again, maybe my memory fails me, but from what I recall, we would just show up in robes. The end.
What other time of year other than All Hallow’s Evening do we go door to door, greeting our neighbors–our community–sharing gobs of good stuff (in this case candy) and celebrating the joy that children bring with their imaginations? As an adult living in the middle of nowhere, I wanted to continue this community feel and the need for adults to push themselves to be a bit more imaginative and thus the annual Halloween parties began. They grew in size and included guests such as an 89-year-old neighbor wanting to do jello shots with gummy body parts in them and a 20-something year old in movie character jumping into the frigid pool repeatedly re-enacting scenes from “his” movie. In general, good friends, good food, good spirits of a different kind all having a good time around a bonfire.
This year, I have been stumped as to whether or not to have a Halloween party. Local friends have become a bit diminished over the past few months, as has my budget. Moving from a tradition of hosting this party alone makes me question my want to even do it. But today, as I was hauling broomsticks, snakes, spiders, gravestones and furry boas across town to store at my new place, I was reminded that this is my tradition, my holiday. Always has been. And while there are things that I have recently left behind, this should not be one of them. After all, it’s about the possibilities and fun, exactly what I need more of. Party on.