I recently became a member of Uncommon, a young online community that calls itself “a front porch for the internet.” In creating my Uncommon profile, I was asked to write about some of my favorite things. The first one that came to mind was Halloween. This is what I wrote:
I was born on Halloween. Long before I arrived, my family celebrated this holiday with gusto—costumes, pumpkins, and scares for all ages. As a kid, my birthday parties were always held at home, at our house with its acre-sized backyard full of old sheds and forts and other good places to haunt. When night fell, the costumed party guests had to follow the trail of jack-o-lanterns through the backyard, reading creepy notes and encountering masked ghouls and terrifying traps at every turn. This was my favorite time of the year. After a hiatus when there were no appropriately-aged children in the family, we started the Halloween parties up again, though now I am on the other side of the horror. I set the traps. I wear the masks. I write the notes that lead the new generation of victims down the trail of jack-o-lanterns. I haunt my childhood home with pride. It’s still my favorite time of year.
Despite the fact that I’ve eaten way too much sugar this week, Halloween for me as never been about the candy. And although I like horror movies and ghost stories, it’s not really about those either. What makes this holiday special is the way my family celebrates it.
For me, Halloween is opening up cobwebby crates and breathing in the musty smell of ghosts that haven’t seen the light of day in a year. It’s watching my dad pose a dummy with careful precision, adjusting the gloves and boots just so. It’s listening to my brother brainstorm outlandish schemes for scaring his children. (Don’t worry, they’re fine.) It’s watching my mom hang “the witch’s laundry” on the clothesline and hearing my three-year-old niece quote Bram Stoker. “Beware! The dead travel fast!” (Yes, she really does this.) Halloween is running around the backyard at night with my cousin, wondering why it still creeps us out even though we know who the monsters are. It’s seeing my aunt’s costume for the first time. She never tells us what she’s going to be and it’s always something awesome. Halloween means smiling at my husband as he shakes his head at the rest of us. Sometimes I think he must feel like he married into the Addams Family.
It’s looking out into the dark and seeing the glow of a jack-o-lantern face. It’s pointing my flashlight at a homemade tombstone and saying, “Uh-oh… this one’s for you.” It’s removing our masks at the end of the party and all talking at once, each and every monster and victim sharing his or her story and battle scars.
Halloween, to me, means screams and laughter in equal measure.
October is drawing to a close. My family celebrated early this year, and the party was another one for the record books. Everyone survived despite what their tombstones said. Tomorrow is Halloween, and I’ll be at home, handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, scaring them with my fake spiders and bubble wrap, and hoping that they’re having at least a fraction of the fun I had when I was their age.
Happy Halloween, everyone! And thanks for celebrating with me all month. If you missed any of my October posts, you can catch up here:
- Beware! Spooky Stuff Ahead
- 5 Tips for a Proper Haunting
- 5 *MORE* Tips for a Proper Haunting
- No Tricks, Just Treats
- My 10 Favorite Horror Books for Kids
- Pumpkins and Poetry
- Book Review: More Spooky Texas Tales
- The Tomato Elevator and Other Weird Stuff
Next month I’ll be taking a bit of a break from blogging. I’m sure I won’t be completely silent, but it’s time I buckle down and get some serious work done. When it comes to real fear, ghosts and goblins have got nothing on deadlines and word counts. I’ll miss you though! And I promise to be back soon.
6 thoughts on “Tomorrow is Halloween”
That was beautiful! It’s my favorite holiday and time if year too and you summed up why. Happy Birthday (early)
Thanks, Cousin Kelley! I love that you are continuing the family traditions with your little one. 🙂
What Halloween means for you was really touching. Also, I love the witch’s laundry! What a cool, creepy idea.
Thanks! Like many of our decorating ideas, the witch’s laundry came about kind of by accident. We have three clotheslines in my parents’ yard that can be dangerous if you don’t know they’re there. We’re always afraid of people running into them at parties, etc, so my mom hangs towels or ribbons on them so they can be seen. One year, we were looking through a box of old homemade Halloween costumes, thinking how cute they were and wishing we had use for them, but they were old and special and we didn’t want to use them in a way that would mess them up, like dressing a dummy or something. So I thought of hanging them on the clothesline. Now it’s tradition! 🙂 I guess I should have included this in one of my decorating tips, but I never thought of it.
Lovely post. My love for Halloween comes from much the same place — a crazy, loving family that knew how to have fun. 🙂 ^I’m with Ashley; the witch’s laundry is a crazy good idea!!
Thanks, Annie! ^See my reply to Ashley for how the witch’s laundry came to be. 🙂