Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why I Love Halloween

As far back as I can remember, I've had a deep love for anything and everything Halloween. Even as an elementary-schooler, I would spend hours doodling bats and ghosts in my books, adding notes about decorating ideas, and planning meticulously detailed parties and celebrations. In fact, one of my first Halloween memories was planning an entire haunted house when I was six years old. Skeletons in closets, a haunted lagoon in the backyard, and even a mini-hell in my laundry room! Of course, I had neither the means nor the ability to transform my home into my vision, but on my sketch pad and in my mischievous little mind, my house was a spooky masterpiece.

But...why? Why did I have such a strong connection with this holiday? In case you're interested, I came up with the following reasons:
  • I love to be creative. As you can probably tell from my crazy haunted house plans, I was a rather imaginative little kid. And I'm the exact same way today. Unlike the regimented plans we had each year for Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving, Halloween was always up for interpretation. A lampshade could be the hunched back of a werewolf. A patch of exposed dirt could be the grave of a zombie. My zany little brain thrives on this stuff, much like a vampire thrives on human blood. (...? I'm weird)

  • I love fall. Halloween is the perfect ending to this amazing season. Pumpkin patches, apple cider, jeans and boots, autumn breezes: these are some of my favorite things in life. How could I not love a holiday that celebrates all of this? This is why I love October itself even more than Halloween. Preparing for Halloween and partaking in all these fun fall events is my absolute favorite part of the year.  
  • I like dressing up. Oh my gosh. Best thing ever. It's not every day you get to wear face paint, striped tights, insane hairstyles, avant garde dresses, and scary masks! I just think it's the best thing ever. Call me a theatre kid.
  • It's genetic. My parents are nowhere near as obsessed as I, but they are completely festive, and more importantly, completely supportive. I have fond memories of dragging the old, blue, ceramic candy bowl out of storage with my dad. My mom teaching me how to make popcorn balls and caramel apples. My dad would don a vampire cape sometimes for the trick-or-treaters, and my mom once rode around on a bike, cackling like Mrs. Gulch, dressed in full witch attire. [True story.] And for every Halloween party I threw, you can bet they'd be helping me shop for supplies, prepare the food, and transport me and my guests all the way to the Headless Horseman festival and back. [Yes, they're great.]
  • I have a dark side. It's funny for me to say that, because pretty much all of my friends would describe me as candy corn sweet, as friendly as a grinning jack-o-lantern. And I doubt any of them would link me to anything remotely macabre. But the thing is, I do have this other side that no one really sees. Not in a creepy way, or anything! But I'm fascinated by the paranormal. I like the rush of terror you get during the climax of a horror film. I enjoy the release that comes after screaming your lungs out at a haunted house. And I like to think about the great mysteries of life. What happens when we die? What is real, and what is solely imagined? Which brings me to...
  • The magic of it all. The mystery of Halloween is beyond intriguing to me. If you don't know, this holiday originated with the Celts, who believed that spirits could come to earth for one night, the eve of winter, and dwell amongst the living. Humans wore masks to frighten these souls away, and lit lanterns to guide them back to the afterlife. And who's to say they were wrong? Halloween is the closest thing we have to magic. Even the most insisting skeptic gets a chill down their spine on a dark Halloween night. Why is that? Even if no post-mortal souls are roaming the streets on October 31st, each living soul is wondering, maybe just slightly, if someone is creeping up behind them...The magic and wonderment that accompany this holiday are unlike anything else. 
  • The bittersweet ending. This may sound strange, but I think my very favorite part of Halloween occurs right as it's ending. Your friends have gone home, the candles have been blown out, and the disgustingly tall pile of candy wrappers has been dumped in the trash. As you flip off the lights and crawl into bed, you're hit with a brief pang of fear. It's not midnight yet...perhaps something scary could still be lurking behind your closet doors. But, succumbing to logic, the fear quickly subsides. And just as you close your eyes to go to sleep, the memories of the season flood your brain and you're filled with warmth and fulfillment. And as you imagine these lovely things, you drift off to sleep, leaving whatever spirits may be present to gently drift home, only to return next Halloween night.

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