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Why Halloween Terrifies Me

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I have a confession to make. And since it is Halloween, it seems an appropriate time as any.

I don’t like festivities. I don’t like parties. Holidays drive me crazy. The chaos of multiple events, expectations, and excitement just seems like a magnet for drama to unfold. Halloween is certainly spooky for me. I have challenge enough in sharing myself with others. I have difficult enough time trusting their intentions. When you throw in costumes, tricks, and treats, I just don’t know what to think.

Skull of a cougar

Photo by Rachel Brazil 2006

Since I have had children, I try to be open to possibilities and new traditions. I strive to recognize my discomforts, honor them as true, and adapt ways to celebrate the holidays that will work for our family. But of course they want to do all the things all the other kids doing.

It’s kind of peculiar that Halloween is one holiday that really gets under my skin, as I am in love with all things autumn. Even more, I have a slight biological fascination with all things dead. Skeletons are a normal part of my home decor.

I don’t mind creepy crawlies or the like. In fact, the last year I truly celebrated Halloween, in 2005, I was making my living cleaning animal skeletons for a University comparative collection.

I’d go to work in my laboratory. Surrounded by animal remains and listen to music like Bauhaus, the Raveonettes, Echo and the Bunnymen, and Joy Division.

I dressed mostly in blacks and grays for only one reason: my most recent opportunity to purchase clothes had been for my grandfather’s funeral a month prior.

I was grieving, but delighted in learning about the living through the dead. (I was an archaeologist after all). I took pictures in the lab. Ranging from the cougar skull featured above, to the bat that the director had brought in right around Halloween. The entire process was absolutely fascinating, examining details that were beyond skin deep.

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Photo by Rachel Brazil 2005

That Halloween, I went to a party with a boyfriend. Even though I struggle at them.

I wore a costume. Even though in doing so, I felt like I shared more of my true self than I was comfortable with.

I carved a Jack-o-Lantern, working carefully to recreate a skeletal version of my hand. I no longer have a picture of that, sad to say.

As much as I tried to put my best foot forward. I couldn’t do it. I hated the party. I wanted to go home. I was willing to walk 12 miles to get home. Instead, I curled up in the back of the car and fell asleep. When I finally got home I had a full-blown violent meltdown and slept on the hallway floor.

For so long, I let that event become a defining moment in that “there must be something wrong with me.”

But, as I’ve written before, I’m through with believing that.

I am who I am, and when I am expected to be something other than that, it really bothers me.

Having strangers knock on my door and ask for things bothers me.

Going on to other people’s property freaks me out.

Eating loads of candy at midnight usually results in a sugar hangover the next morning.

Acting like I am someone else clearly messes with my sense of being.

Having to interact with people in costume makes me want to run away crying.

The ghouls and the gross don’t bother me. Nor does the fake blood or a random body part. So maybe my best bet is to be a hermit for Halloween. I will stay in, with my loves (who happen to be ill today). We will make creepy treats shaped like eyeballs or ghosts. Maybe I’ll try my hand at homemade caramels or chocolate candies. Maybe we’ll play with costumes and perform spooky Halloween skits.

But really, why should I do something I am not comfortable with, just for the sake of a holiday?

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Welcome, Acceptance

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A menagerie is growing. It is peeping and squeaking and soon to be quacking.

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Seven little ducklings have taken up residence in our basement.

DSCF3061 And on occasion, the bathtub.

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Watching these creatures stirred something deep within myself.

Wonder,

excitement,

and a little giggle

of a five-year-old girl.

The same five year old girl that used to chase sparrows around the McDonald’s playground in hopes of catching one,

just to feel what feathers were like.

The same five year old girl that would take her grandpa’s hand and say, “Let’s go look at the garden!”

The same five year old girl that dug up the roots of an apple tree, certain that she had found a dinosaur bone.

That little girl, is me. She arrived yesterday.

A day after the ducklings.

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She wanted to call her daddy to tell him about the excitement of holding these little fluff-balls.

I had to be gentle with her, “Your daddy died last year, sweetheart.”

“Oh, that’s right. I’m sad about that…

But, we know what feathers feel like now, right?”

“Yes, we do. We get to hold birds everyday, if we want.”

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“And we have a garden now, right?”

“Yes, but it’s too cold to work in it. But someday soon the green onions and garlic will start sprouting.”

“And we have apple trees too, right?”

“Yes, we do. Dad helped the boys plant them two years ago.”

“Oh good. So we’re happy and life is good, right?”

“Yes, my girl. You are right. As difficult as things feel sometimes, we are happy. And life is good.”

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~

What an amazing sense of arrival, to know what is truly important to the core of my being.

And to know that through all the struggles,

through all the discontented and quieted bits of my inner self,

that the young child,

the one with the quietest voice,

is the most accepting,

the most appreciative,

and remains close to the ones gone from this world.

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