We can finally go to the grocery store again.
For the past month my daughter has been petrified to enter any store. She hates all the skeletons, witches and ghosts that show up this time of year. She would cover her eyes or cower behind me.
Although I understood, I started to get angry and resentful of her behavior. Get over it already. It’s just a silly decoration. You’re being ridiculous.
Then Halloween hit and I’ve changed my attitude.
Every year since they were very small we make the 30 minute drive up the hill to the Live Oak Waldorf School to celebrate Halloween by walking the Pumpkin Path. In case you’ve never heard of such a thing, I’ll give you a brief rundown.
You buy tickets for a certain time slot. When you arrive you wait by a fire pit surrounded by beautifully carved pumpkins. When it’s your turn, you are greeted by your Angel Guide who carries a lantern and leads you on a story through the campus.
This year it started with meeting the King and Queen and hearing that their children, the prince and princess, were turning 16. They needed our help to spread the word that the party was changed from the vineyard to the oak garden. The children were given golden/chocolate coins in return for agreeing to be royal messengers.
We traveled around spreading the news. The path is lined by Jack-O-Lanterns carved and burning bright. During the journey the children met an Apple Blossom Fairy that sang to them from up in the tree and gave them an apple. We met some gnomes doing metal work who gave the children each a gem like the ones they were adding to the crowns. A wooden castle from the toymaker, delicious caramel from the candymakers and a felt pouch from the shepherds all filled their baskets. Our journey ended at the birthday party with cookies, hot cider and pictures with the prince and princess (see my happy elf posing with them below).
This year, like every, my children delighted at the adventure. They laughed, interacted with the characters and really got into the story. It’s so magical for them. It is everything that Halloween is designed to be. A night of magic, wonder and delight. I always leave feeling happy and filled up.
This year, as has been the case the last few years, my son wants to trick-or-treat when we get home. Our neighborhood gores it up big time. In the course of five houses we saw a life-size version of the girl from Exorcist (whose eyes lit up green and head spun around), spikes with bloody hands and heads hanging from them, a frightening looking clown with bloody fangs and an enormous spider that jumped out at us.
The contrast between our two Halloween experiences struck me as outrageous and obscene. What is wrong with our society? Where is the magic and wonder? Certainly not in my neighborhood.
I saw so many very small children just walking right past these horrific images without even blinking.
My boy is almost 9 and he begged me to take him to a Halloween store this year. He was so curious and he really wanted to test his bravery. So I did. I can’t even tell you how disgusted and appalled I was. Not only by what we saw, but by the babies in the store seeing it too. It was so much worse than I had imagined. We talked about what we saw and how we both felt about it.
“It makes my stomach feel funny,” he said. “Like it’s not right.”
People think they are doing their children a favor by showing them these things. They seem proud that their children are unaffected by these images. It makes me sad. Your stomach should feel funny. It is sickening. Gore and death should evoke feeling. It’s our humanity. Just because your kid isn’t crying at seeing a bloody head doesn’t mean he isn’t affected, he just isn’t allowed to share those concerns with you.
So it is MORE than OK my dear daughter if you don’t want to see that stuff. I don’t either. Images stay in your head. You go ahead and hide behind me and I’ll protect you.
As we walked around our neighborhood seeing all this craziness, I could tell my boy was uneasy. I grabbed his hand and told him I was scared.
“I know it’s not real mom,” he said. “I just tell myself everything is going to jump out and then I’m not as scared.”
We only did our block and that was enough for us both. I was sad that those were the images he would go to sleep with, not the magical story we had lived earlier in the evening.
So as he got ready for bed we talked all about the Pumpkin Path and he found special places of honor for the treasures he had received there.
When I kissed him good-night and told him to sleep quick so the Candy Fairy could come, he smiled.
“You know my favorite part of Halloween?” he asked.
“Candy?” I said and he giggled.
“No mom,” he smiled, “knowing a fairy is coming into my room while I sleep tonight. I can’t wait to see what she brings me.”
Magic and wonder are alive in my home and it makes me proud.