Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life

laughing witchI think Halloween may be my daughter’s favorite holiday. Dress up is certainly one of her favorite activities, and from the moment we started looking at costumes and imagining what she could become on Halloween, her eyes have sparkled at the thought.

The house is decorated. The candy has been purchased and hidden safely away. The costume has arrived bit by bit and has been assembled and inspected. Now, all she has to do is await her favorite night, when the princess will be escorted by the royal coachman (Dad) from door to door to collect oodles of sugary goodies that we will never consume. (We still haven’t finished last years’ candy collection.)

The first year I lived in Sioux City, I quickly came to realize that Halloween was a much bigger event in the Midwest than it was in the South when I was growing up. We didn’t trick or treat much. I did have one Halloween party when I was six, hosted by my 16 year old sister, who had also made me the most beautiful golden angel costume. The one picture we have of that party shows me at the end of the evening with tilted and bent wings and no halo—frankly a fairly accurate depiction.

But when I moved to Sioux City, the talk at Halloween was still about how, several years past, a blizzard had forced the cancelling of Halloween. It was a major event, apparently cancelling Halloween was something not done lightly. I was amazed at all the busy-ness associated with the holiday in Sioux City, and quickly became caught up in the “spirit” of the season myself. The biology faculty at the college where I taught always dressed up at Halloween for our classes.

Now, I see houses fully lit for Halloween, yards sporting far more than the occasional jack-o-lantern, being festooned with all kinds of things to mark the holiday, both spooky and fun.

I think that Halloween in the upper Midwest marks the true beginning of winter (let’s face it, the real cold begins much earlier than December 21), and the lights at Halloween are our way of lighting up the night and warming up the chilly evenings.

As darkness falls early and temperature falls fast, we still want to open our hearts and our houses to each other. So we decorate, string lights and say, “hello” to our neighbors indirectly. We may not be sharing a wave or a smile as we pass on the bike path or as we mow our lawns any more, but we can still make each other smile as we light up the night.

Before my daughter went to bed on Sunday, she said, “Do you know what tomorrow is?”

“Yes, Monday.”

“That’s right. And the next day is Tuesday, and the next is Wednesday. And the next is Thursday—Halloween. OOOOh. I just can’t wait!”

Neither can I. I hope that you had a Happy Halloween.

©2013 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

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