Monday, September 21, 2009
Why do we love Halloween?
At Halloween we can be playful AND spooky without being too serious. We can play with our darker impulses during the holiday without acting on them. We can bring our shadows into light.
Books are a good place to grapple with the shadow. Peter Pan had his shadow. When he lost it, he returned to Wendy so she could sew it back on. GOOSEBUMPS has long been a series favorite. Now vampire tomes for teens and young adults flood the market. Our cultural shadow continues to morph and each generation draws its outline differently.
I have always enjoyed Halloween. I loved dressing up in costumes and looting neighborhood candy bowls. “Arghhh. Hand over your Snickers, Matey!” One Halloween I dressed up as "Laura" from LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE in a sunbonnet and gingham dress. Another year I was a hobo. More creative costumes usually involved wearing a painted cardboard box.
In retrospect, my favorite costume was the one my Mom made 5 minutes before my bus came.
“Mom--- Mom---Mom. I have a Halloween parade at school today. I need a costume.”
Mom headed to the linen closet. She grabbed a white sheet and her pinking shears. She cut out eyeholes, threw the sheet over my head, tied a red yarn ribbon around my neck and pushed me out the door.
“There, you’re a ghost. Go catch your bus.”
“But, Mom, I don’t wanna be a ghost,” I whined.
Slam. Door shut, case closed.
“Yay. Boo.” I said as I dragged my dingy gray Chuck Taylors to the bus stop wearing my sad little ghost costume.
Mom never had a problem with her shadow.
(Photo credit: "Halloween in Sleepy Hollow, 1978", by Emilie Spaulding)