I've been meaning to finish this post for weeks! Now that it's Thanksgiving, it's finally done....
We had such a nice Halloween celebration this year. Having a small baby, I really took the Simplicity Parenting to heart and tried to keep it all wonderfully simple.
Halloween is not my favorite holiday. I do love the dressing up and the pumpkins, but I have never like the way we celebrate it with cheesy scary stuff. I remember when I was a kid I was totally puzzled about why everyone always had fake spider webs everywhere. My dad is an entomologist and I grew up with lots of insects. My dad, like other nutty insect enthusiasts, is totally fearless about picking up creepy bugs with huge pincers and biting beaks, so fake cobwebs seemed so strange and not-scary, but because everyone put them up for haunted houses I thought maybe there was something scary about them after all.
I really don't like all the "scary" images of death. It feels disrespectful for life and death. And all the candy is so awful. I don't let my kids eat candy. It's not about the sugar. If it were just sugar it wouldn't be so bad, but they put all sorts of strange and horrific chemicals in candy--the real reason why Halloween should be scary! And I hate the way home made things and healthy treats like fruit have been demonized, so everyone has to go out and buy candy--or small plastic toys.
So, a few years ago, I decided to reclaim this holiday, and celebrate it in a way that is more meaningful to me. Inspired by a local fair-trade store called Alternatives, which celebrates the holiday as Day of the Dead and offers sugar skulls to decorate and an offrenda, we began celebrating a modified version.
For us, it has become an opportunity to tell the stories of our Beloved Dead each year, to remember them and their lives, who they were and where they came from and how they lived. Telling their stories, it always amazes me how much a part of our lives all of our Beloved Dead remain, and how much a part of us they are--from one grandmother's love of cooking and gardening, and my other's deep intuition, and my one grandfather's love of simple things and children, and the other's powerful stubbornness to stand up to his cruel stepfather. I am so glad to have these stories to share with my children. I always make it a point to ask my parents for their memories of the Beloved Dead. Each time they remember something new, I feel that I learn something about myself, too. They are in so many ways still here with us.
This year, we baked cornbread and pumpkin bars with a pumpkin from the garden (a new version of pumpkin pie I made up with no wheat) and carved pumpkins. We got two amazing, huge pumpkins this year from the store. They were hard as rocks. It was all we could do to carve them, and the knife kept getting stuck like the sword in the stone. I joked that they were probably genetically modified and crossed with red woods. The stem on the one pumpkin was just incredible. I can't bring myself to imagine what a monstrous vine it came off of.
The Jehovah's Witnesses came to pamphlet us with pictures of small, smiling children petting bears and lions and such while we were carving them. I started telling them excitedly about our new way of celebrating Halloween, and they came away traumatized, I think. Ethan told me later they don't even celebrate birthdays.