All Hallows’ Eve — Halloween — has never meant much to me. When I think back to my childhood, an image surfaces of a dingy, frayed rabbit costume, handed down from child to child and worn until each of us grew too large to wear it. And I remember my brother Richard’s aluminum-foil spaceman costume, which I thought ingenious but which had a tendency to unravel. For my brothers and me, Halloween was all about who could fill their pillowcase with candy — and then, later, who had the best hiding place for their sweet stash.
As a parent, I enjoyed helping my children take part in the trick-or-treat ritual, and I was more involved than my parents in providing or creating unique costumes — while simultaneously dreading the inevitable battle over control of the candy. Usually, I gave up and let them eat until it was gone. Life was simpler that way
But for many people I know, Halloween is their favorite holiday. They go all out decorating their homes and office spaces, dressing in costume, hosting Halloween parties, and so on. They have Halloween traditions that have personal meaning.
When I asked a friend about why she loves Halloween so much, she replied, “It’s fun, and there’s no emotional charge around it. Christmas and Thanksgiving carry so much family-related emotional baggage, but Halloween can be whatever you make it.”
Perhaps. Would it bother me if Halloween suddenly disappeared from the calendar? I think not.
What about you? What are your Halloween stories? To get you started, I offer these writing prompts:
- What is your earliest Halloween memory?
- Perform a word association exercise with “Halloween.” What images and emotional themes emerge?
- What, if anything, most appeals to you about Halloween? Why?
- Perform a word association exercise with “Thanksgiving” and “Christmas.” Go back and circle words that carry an emotional charge. Do you notice any differences or similarities between these two? What about these two and Halloween?
- Do you enjoy being frightened? (Go to scary movies, enjoy the halloween decorations associated with death and morbidity.) If so, why do you think this is true? If not, why not? And how does this relate to your feelings about Halloween?
- Does Halloween have other associations? Do you celebrate and honor the dead?
I invite you to write about one of your Halloween memories and share it with us by leaving a coment below.