The headline reads “Scare Tactics.” Photos of blood gushing from eyeballs, gruel spewing from open mouths, vampires nicking necks blanket the media. I’m forced to look while attempting to maintain my equilibrium – continually hoping I won’t pass out, become nauseous or hurl. Once I regain my balance (and focus), I begin to wonder when (and why) Halloween had become such a costly and barbaric event?
Despite tight economic times and conditions, Americans – young and mature adults alike – continue to spend billions preparing to participate in and celebrate this event. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), American spending on items surrounding this “holiday” has more than doubled – climbing from $3.3 billion in 2005 to close to 7 billion in 2011. Over 58% of those billions was spent on the purchase of candy and decorations – while the remainder went into costumes (and yes a large percentage even went into pet costumes).
No one seems to be spared from involvement in this event either. As shared by Mary C. White in her Time Businessss and Money article “Halloween has undergone a shift from a sort of silly, kid- and candy-centric affair to a full-blown event for adults.” Apparently, celebrating no longer ceases when one departs their childhood years. In 2011, nearly 70% of the celebrants were anticipated to be between ages 18-65+.
As I reflect on Halloween, my own childhood experiences surface. I remember the time as a very productive and creative period. It was an occasion that seemed to blend tradition, culture, and a strong desire to connect with and represent who I was, where I had came from, and what I wanted to be. For our family, planning started early – as Fall season began to set in during the first part of September. We gathered together to learn more about the “holiday” and to brainstorm ideas. Once we agreed on our costume choice, we created a list of all the supplies – tools, fabric, ribbon, face cover, and more – we’d need to design a costume that would ultimately allow the spirit within each of us to unfold and reveal itself.
While many interpretations of the history of Halloween exist – along with the many ways countries worldwide celebrate and why – my Mom’s background (immigrant parents from Poland) brought her own perspective and interpretation to the event.
As thoughts of (and plans for) this upcoming “holiday” (and all that surrounds it) fast approaches, my attention is drawn to several passages in a book I just completed (after several long weeks). Despite the intensity of the read – one that elicits a tango of sorts with one’s own thoughts and demands immersion into deep profound reflection, I leave the chamber of this book with numerous passages trailing behind – embedded into my memory and arousing curious, weighty contemplation.
From Eternal Echos by John O’Donohue
P. 19 – You love to reach beyond, to discover something new….Discovery delights the heart. This is the natural joy of childhood and the earned joy of the artist. The child and the artist are pilgrims of discovery….Discovery is the nature of the soul.
P. 33 – During your life on earth, childhood is the time of most intense happening. Yet, ironically, it is also the most silent time in your life. You are having immense experiences of wonder, discovery, and difficulty, but the words and thoughts to name them have not yet arrived.
I passionately concur with Mr. O’Donohue – childhood is a time of “intense happening.” It definitely was for me!! And, as he describes, despite the fact that the ability to name and/or describe what was occurring had not yet been placed within my reaches, the “natural silence” provided an amazing time for observation – watching, listening, grasping, and absorbing.
Halloween, during my childhood, was a truly artistic time. Each member of our household was guided to recreate a costume and portray an image that represented someone from the past – and that would allow them to – within them self – become a self-expression of that someone. I was able to “become” people I’d heard and dreamed about. During this time, I observed, absorbed, and acquired lessons from a true artist – my Mom. In preparing this blog, I searched for and retrieved some old photos of Halloween costumes designed and made by my Mom.
I hope this Halloween brings back great memories…and allows you to find within yourself the ability to reach beyond – to discover something new!!
© 2013 EMCarlock
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