Thursday, October 14, 2010

The darkest day of the year is the brightest for me.

I used to list Christmas as my favorite holiday. I still love Christmas, don't misunderstand me. But since the trampling death at a Wal-Mart in Long Island the day after Thanksgiving in 2008, watching the movie "What Would Jesus Buy" and learning about The Advent Conspiracy the consumerism of Christmas has left a bad taste in my mouth.

I still love spending time with my family, cooking and exchanging gifts. I especially love to watch my children run for their stockings Christmas morning. If friends in the area don't have family visiting, we have them over for a brunch of french toast, bacon and mimosas.

But, with the pressure to spend money and how cranky everyone shopping gets it's not my favorite anymore.

Halloween has officially overtaken Christmas as my favorite holiday.
Halloween is fun for no reason at all. Think about it, it's not a celebration of any significant historic happening or high holy day. It's a day when people get dressed up in silly clothes and encourage children to run from house to house taking candy from strangers. We tell each other ghost stories to try and scare the crap out of each other. We hang skeletons from the trees in our front yards. It's a big, pagan free-for-all and everyone can participate.

Why do we do it? Because our parents did it. Now that I'm a parent I do it for my kids because it's a bunch of fun.

The entire process is just a gas. Figuring out what costume to wear is the first step. I wore a lot of home made costumes when I was a kid. My mom was a theatre major and has quite good make-up skills. One year I was a ghost, I stuck my head through a hole in a sheet and my mom painted my face all white with a big spider on my nose. My children gag at this idea, so I buy them costumes.

Taking my kids to the Halloween store means walking around watching them change their mind every thirty seconds. I tell them they need to sleep on it then we'll go back the next day. They put costumes are put on immediately because I'm a cool mom who lets them do that.

Some friends of mine dressed their children in themes until they got old enough to protest. Kathye dressed her eight year old as Leia, her five year old as Darth Vader and her one year old as Chewbacca. Or my friend Amanda who made her husband a Sweeney Todd outfit, a Mrs. Lovett get-up for herself and costumed her baby daughter as a meat pie. Seriously, what could be cuter?

And our neighborhood is great for trick-or-treating. As I tell people, the neighborhood is lousy with children. We're friendly with the neighbors and we'll switch off who walks around with the kids. I'll start with the children of Joe, Mike and my own kids. When we get to Mike's house, he'll take over while I go home. When he gets to Joe's house Joe will take over until the circuit is complete and he'll walk everyone home. It works out well.

We get so many trick-or-treaters I don't even close the front door. I like to drag a living room chair onto the porch to pass out candy. And I don't care if the person with the bag is seventeen, as long as they're dressed up I'm good with it. One year I almost poked a twelve year old girl in the eye because she had no costume on and took a bunch of crappy candy out of her bag, put it all in my bowl and took a bunch of my good candy.

We have a pre-trick-or-treating party every year. We invite friends to come over in the late afternoon while it's still light out. I put pumpkin and witch decorations up with lots of candles. I make beef stew, pumpkin bread, spiced cider and a cranberry-wine punch. Friends bring dishes to share before tromping off to get their sweets. Sometimes people hang out for a while, listening to music and chatting. At some point we drink a toast to those passed on. This year will be our fourth Day-of-the-Dead gathering and it's a party I really look forward to.

And I follow some old, spiritual traditions. I leave a plate of food outside for the spirits. It's said that on Halloween night the veil between this world and the afterlife is thin enough for our loved one who have passed away to come visit us. "To kiss us as we sleep" is the idea. The journey is difficult and they need the nourishment of the meal I leave out to make the journey back.

But legends aside, Halloween is just an excuse to be goofy for the sake of being goofy. I love that people turn on their lights and open their door to give kids a treat. They don't know these kids, but they give them treats all the same. Because it's fun.

If I had to explain to someone who had never heard of Halloween why we did it, I would say "Because it's fun." No other reason, it's just fun. I think we should have at least one more day during the year to celebrate just to create fun. What about May 6th? It only comes one day a year!

I need idea for a costume. What do you think?

Amanda's beauty tip of the day: Black nail polish needs regular touching up. Make sure to check your manicure throughout the day.


Hendel said...

Been enjoying your blog, but had to post a "Like" for this entry in particular. :-)

Jamie said...

Halloween is my favorite, too!

Kirsten said...

can we join your traditions in halloween? that sounds like so much fun!!