I think I must have been about seven or eight years old when I was a TV for Halloween. It was in our garage, with newspapers strewn about to protect the floor, that I recall my parents helping me cut and paint a box to create an awesome, original television costume; it had an antennae, channel dials, and buttons—my face was “on TV” for the night. As it turned out, the costume was rather large and limited my lines of vision making my movements around the cul-de-sac awkward and challenging; I frequently bumped into things trying to ring our neighbors’ doorbells seeking treats. But despite the dents and bruises from getting knocked around a bit, I vividly remember the fun I had that day.
Whether I was an angel, or a hobo, or a flower, or a baby, or a tin-foil robot, Halloween seemed to allow for fun and creativity as a child with an opportunity to get a little loot. Like most kids, I would come home after a full evening of trick-or-treating and dump the contents of my brown paper bag on the living room floor and sort through the goods, counting chocolate bars and creating piles of the candy I liked best. Then those treats that were not of interest (or that my mom deemed as having too many artificial colors or flavors) we would put back in our family’s candy bowl to hand out to treat-seeking late-comers that night.
Though there is concern surrounding the origins of the holiday, I have very fond memories of Halloween as a child.
Fast forward almost 30 years.
Halloween has changed for me; it brings torrents of heaviness in my heart. Beyond the fact that October 31st is now filled with difficult memories (see The Beginning of the End 10/31/2008), I have discovered something else that makes it especially challenging…
My spirit, more than ever before, is particularly sensitive to much of the decor and costumes that run rampant with the season.
We have a neighbor with a life-size poster of a skeleton hanging from a noose. Another nearby apartment is creeped out with synthetic, decaying limbs. Many homes are decorated with mummies, coffins, gravestones, ghosts, and all sorts of other dark paraphernalia. Stores are filled with costumes of devils, goblins, and zombies. That which is garishly grotesque and gruesome appeals to the masses at Halloween; carnage is re-packaged as amusement and it’s trendy.
In the name of fun, it is easy to brush these things off as harmless and innocent, and on some level I understand. However, though I never liked dark, gory decor before, my markedly tender heart finds these “innocuous” displays of evil and mortality to be especially troubling now. When a child walks down the street dressed as a skeleton, isn’t death being glamorized?
The truth is, although Judson’s spirit is incredibly alive, I am ever-aware that my child’s body is a skeleton now, and I know with certainty there is absolutely nothing glamorous about it.