Ready for Halloween?

Whoooo's ready for Halloween?

Whoooo’s ready for Halloween? This wise pumpkin concoction was part of the scarecrow exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. (That’s a doll climbing the tree, not a real person.)

My husband has accused me of being a Halloween scrooge, but I think it’s only because we have an overwhelming number of children in our neighborhood, and not all of them are polite about the Halloween candy we give out. Some grab as much candy as they can from our bowls, some of the older ones show up in no costume and still expect candy, and others show up before the sun has even thought about setting. Isn’t there some rule against trick-or-treating before dark?

So yes, I can get a bit grumpy this time of year. But I also love seeing the costumes and the gleeful looks on the kids’ faces as they come up to our porch. I especially look forward to seeing the children I know best and see day-to-day, because they’re usually so sweet and a little shy in their costumes. It’s nice to see the parents out strolling around with their children, and Halloween gives my husband and me a chance to at least wave to neighbors we don’t see all that often or know all that well. Plus, Halloween is one of those occasions when Facebook is more fun than usual for me, because I get to see costumes of far-flung friends and their children.

I was talking with a friend earlier today about Halloween. She’s a mom of four, and when they all lived at home, the family would decide on a theme each year and figure out how each one would dress to match the theme. They enjoy witches’ brew each Halloween (aka beef stew), and that’s a tradition that hasn’t gone away even though they’re mostly too old for trick-or-treating. She made Halloween creative and fun for the whole family, and even though they’re growing up, they still think of Halloween as time for family fun.

I loved Halloween when I was little. One neighbor rigged up lights and noises to pretend there was a scary troll living under the bridge to his house. Our immediate neighbors made homemade goodies and pretended that they didn’t recognize me, though I was the only red-headed kid anywhere nearby. Another invited the neighborhood kids over for apple bobbing and other Halloween fun. There was usually a carnival at school with a costume contest. My dad would carve a jack-o-lantern for us. My very creative mom made costumes for my brother and me.

I remember the best one she ever made. I had fallen in love with Greek Mythology and wanted to dress up as Athena. I wore draped white and purple cloth for my robe, and I’m sure I had a spear of some sort. But the pièce de résistance was the helmet my mom made for me. She made the most magnificent Greek war helmet out of cardboard and aluminum foil, and used red, shiny wrapping paper over foam rubber for the crest. It was the one year I won a costume prize at the school carnival. Continue reading

October’s colors: orange and … pink?

Let me begin by saying that my prayers are with all of you who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath. For those who want to help with recovery efforts, the American Red Cross is a great place to start.

October’s colors
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the colors of October. It’s hard to get through the month without seeing a lot of orange and black as we begin our preparations for Halloween. But these days, it’s hard to go without seeing a lot of pink everywhere, too.

I’m grateful that there are organizations raising money for research to defeat this illness. I’ve known too many who have lost friends, sisters, wives, mothers to this disease. You probably can list too many names of your own.

Everyone seems to be getting in on the breast cancer awareness act, and I worry a bit about pink ribbon weariness. Komen races/walks popped up all over the country to celebrate October as breast cancer awareness month. At least one recent NASCAR race had a pink stripe painted on the inside edge of the track (don’t ask me how I know this). Delta’s flight attendants wore pink shirts and served pink lemonade for a donation. I even saw a Delta plane tug on the tarmac painted pink. At the gym today, I saw someone carrying around a pink-ribboned Evian water bottle. Like I said, pink everywhere.

For me, seeing pink everywhere complicated my emotions, and I struggled with a rising anger over all the pink. I was being selfish, because of what I was facing in my own life this month. The second week of October, I went for an annual mammogram. Continue reading