As I get older, I actually find myself liking this time of year more, though it wasn't really part of my experience growing up. My family wasn't anti-Halloween... my mom actually tried to get us to dress up, but fragile (okay... dramatic and wimpy) children we were, the idea of putting on costumes and leaving the house was just too scary, especially when everything about the day was geared toward fear. So my memories of the night mostly involve hanging out at home with Disney cartoons, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and candy. Oh, candy.
It wasn't until we were older that we started to hear the hype and controversy. You know the angles... It's evil, and we shouldn't participate in darkness. It's darkness, but we should use it to share light. It's harmless. It's very serious.
Really, I do believe it's up to the individual to decide what to do with it, and if you wanted a further discussion on that, The Rabbit Room did a much better job of that last year, so read that... if you dare. (Then again, maybe we don't want to dredge that Comment Monster up again. :)) What I'm more interested in is a question I heard a mom ask today as she figures out her own stance for her family.
"It's a holiday... but what are we celebrating anyway?"
Kids dress up, they get candy, they have fun... but what's the deeper meaning if any? If it's a holiday, what could we celebrate? Death, or fear, or darkness? Hardly. If that's all there was to celebrate, then no wonder many say it's not worth the time.
But what if, in the interest of re-purposing the day and making something beautiful, it became a way to face our humanity and fears and celebrate that death is not the end?
Autumn is, after all, a season of dying. Leaves fall. Days burn out quicker. Nights turn colder, slower, darker, paving a golden path toward winter, toward the end. And Halloween falls right there on the edge, a night where believing in ghosts comes little bit easier.
What if though, instead of a day to focus on fear and violence, we saw innocence, creativity, and imagination? Couldn't we take joy in those parts, and throw them back in death's face, reminding him that he's not the end? "Death, thou shalt die," an old poem says. Or in older words, "Where is your victory? Where is your sting?
And after all, in the dead of winter, Christmas is not too far behind. The cycle begins anew.
Again, if I were a real blogger, I would've planned to post this two weeks ago, because November starts in less than an hour. And it would be confident and organized, darnit. But you know... sometimes thoughts come late and slow, and suddenly, I kind of wish I'd carved a pumpkin and dressed up this year.
So for now, let's collaborate: What are your thoughts, experiences, and/or hangups with Halloween? And how can we rebuild it into something beautiful and worth celebrating? Maybe by this time next year, we can have a more coherent idea...
On a similar note, this is most fitting:
"When it comes, flowers grow
Lions sleep, gravestones roll
Where death dies, all things live..."