Chacos column: The real meaning of Halloween
Enjoy the Ride
Enough already with bathing suits and tank tops where one must bare bellies and flabby upper arms that were never adequately toned over summer. October, a wholly underrated month, ushers in auburn hues, hoodies and Halloween.
There’s nothing that encourages me to embrace the irreverent more than haunted houses, skeletons and waxed candy corn. Especially after the crap we’ve had to deal with all year.
Some claim September starts the festive, epic holiday season with crisp leaves and crockpots bubbling with chili. There’s cool mornings and afternoon football, the start of school and homework hell. For heaven’s sake, some stores even put up their Christmas displays before the autumnal equinox. However, when I simply try to roll in bins of Halloween decorations mid-September, all hell breaks loose.
This year, my family of guerillas universally declared, “Give it a rest already. Nothing ghoulish until the end of October!” I imagine they weren’t ready to suspend reality and give into some make-believe as they just started a sobering school year.
I snorted and retaliated by spending September tapping into some childlike behavior instead. I scouted where the Spirit Halloween store would pop up this year. I cataloged seasonal decorations I didn’t currently own. I vetted costume ideas in casual conversation gauging the temperature and wanting to know if I’d be the only quadragenarian dressed up as a “Karen” with nowhere to go. I had a very busy month preparing for October.
I also ordered a charming, and, in my opinion, very tasteful Halloween wreath. Yes, that’s a thing easily found online late at night. Unfortunately, when the package arrived on my doorstep a few weeks ago, I was not the one to receive it. The box was opened, the wreath went missing, and my little anarchists scurried for cover.
All month my children insisted September was too early to get into the Halloween spirit and said they wouldn’t set foot in the house if I purchased the stuffed vulture sitting in my shopping cart. They spoke from a teenager’s perspective about the importance of conforming to the season’s rules.
I argued that September only boasts Labor Day and is labeled “Attendance Awareness Month” in some very small circles. In my opinion, the month could balance itself with some levity, but teens don’t know how to compartmentalize sobering current events with their emotions yet.
Finally, October arrived, and I was able to usher in decorative pumpkins and play a little with my family. An afternoon snack of skulls now sits at the dining table, and tasteful tombstones adorn my frost-filled garden. I insist we watch “The Exorcist,” and there’s a life-size skeleton and a trio of his minions roaming our halls. They’ve been hired as detectives to find the missing Halloween wreath. Hopefully the bones will entice some interactive wit from the self-proclaimed “realists” that live with me.
This month really is scary for many with frightening news headlines and depressing statistics. But with a little humor and forbidden candy bars, I choose to wade through the world we face with my children close behind. I hope one day they see the holiday for what it could really mean, too.
Andrea Chacos lives in Carbondale, balancing work and happily raising three children with her husband. She strives to dodge curveballs life likes to throw with a bit of passion, humor, and some flair.
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