Rethinking Halloween

I haven’t always been a big fan of Halloween. I thought it was fun when the kids were little, when they wanted to dress up and go trick-or-treating.

I don’t often miss my life in Michigan, but fall in general and Halloween in particular are the exceptions. It was chilly (sometimes downright cold) and the leaves were changing colors and falling.

Halloween was a community event. People actually went trick-or-treating to the houses in their neighborhood. So the kids who came to our door were kids from our neighborhood. It was always my husband’s role to take our kids trick-or-treating and my role to stay home and pass out candy. I really enjoyed it.

It hasn’t been the same since I moved here. For one thing, it’s still hot in late October. For another much bigger thing, few people here trick-or-treat and instead go to (usually church-sponsored) “trunk or treat” events. I can’t tell you how lame and sterile it seems to just walk around parking lots and collect candy from decorated car trunks.

So to my surprise, suddenly I’m really into Halloween this year. I already bought a Halloween-themed blanket (that it’s still too hot out to use, but I’ll keep it out all year long because it’s cute.) I want to get more Halloween decorations because all my stuff is many years old. And this year, I actually have the money to do a little shopping.

I don’t really know why I’m so suddenly into Halloween this year, since I’ve been indifferent to it at best in the past five years. None of my kids are even into dressing up anymore.

I suspect that it has something to do with my husband’s cancer, though. Even though I don’t consider myself Catholic or religious anymore, there is a Catholic concept called “memento mori.” Memento mori is all about having an awareness of your own death. The day after Halloween is even a holy day in the Catholic Church about remembering those who have died.

I find that I think about death more than I want to these days–especially because my husband’s about to go in for the CT scan that shows how well his cancer is responding to the chemo. Maybe thinking about death so much is scary enough that I want to think about it in a more lighthearted way.

I don’t think I’ll ever like horror movies or gore because those just aren’t things I’m interested in. But maybe it’s time to start having more fun with Halloween, even if it will never be as fun as it was in Michigan when my kids were little. I need to find a way to take the scariness out of death.

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