I’ll admit it. I still have a childlike fascination with Halloween. Of course I love Fall weather, the changing leaves, the bonfires, the sweaters, etc. But my love of Halloween goes beyond that. For some reason, Halloween is the one time of year, even more than Christmas, that stirs up nostalgia for my childhood. I love the ghost stories, trick-or-treating, the horribly cheap costumes that never fit correctly. I love the carnivals, the scary movies that come on television, the pumpkins on the porch.
And, if I am really honest, my longing for this time of year is what ultimately convinced me to pursue a degree in Library Science. I can still remember when my 1st grade class went to the school library the week of Halloween, before public schools got ridiculous with their “Autumn/Harvest Celebration” mumbo jumbo. In my school, we called it Halloween. We dressed up in costumes. We brewed witches brew (green kool-aid) and our librarian told scary stories with the lights out. It was magical!
It’s the reason I love Edgar Allan Poe, why I’m not afraid that my child will want to take up devil worship after watching Harry Potter, and why on Halloween night, my son and I will watch a silly Halloween special or read a funny Casper the Friendly Ghost book. It’s why my favorite old cartoon is STILL the Disney telling of Ichabod Crane and the Legend Sleepy Hollow.
Now, I need to preface this whole write-up with on thing. I know there is a line. I hate modern-day horror flicks. They’ve all gotten too weird and demented, too demonic and depraved. And I hate it that Halloween has turned into an excuse for college girls and housewives to dress up like hookers.
My desire is to preserve and recreate the innocence of my childhood Halloweens for my sons. I want them to experience the feeling of the hair standing up on the backs of their necks when they are spooked by a silly story. I want them to eat too much candy and regret it the next morning.
I want them to experience hay rides and bonfires, carnivals and costumes. I want it to be okay for them to draw pictures of ghosts, and Frankenstein, and Dracula! Mummies and witches! Jack-o-lanterns! Bats! Black cats! Spiders! Because at the end of the day, I will make sure that they know it is all just a fun, silly celebration.
I want them to catch even just a small glimpse of the Halloweens that I had growing up.
This is a poem I have had in my hip pocket for a while. I don’t think it’s finished quite yet, but I love it just the same. I wrote it on Halloween years ago. Happy Halloween everyone!
Tonight the moon passes overhead
peering through the rotted oaks.
His gaze spills hollow light in pockets
on the forest floor.
Leaves race off into the shadows,
joining the howling spirits that dance
out on the dark horizon.
It seems that the night’s characters are fleeing
the approaching purple dawn.
One last horrid moan pierces the darkness
and night bows to the morning.
The forest’s hovering lantern closes his eyes
to rest in the belly of a distant hill
until the shadowed song and dance
draws him from his slumber
to resume his nocturnal patrol.