herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Who says Halloween is just for kids? Now, pass me my witch's broom

"Haven't we got a mask or anything?" she asked on the morning of the school party last week.

I couldn't believe it. Did she not remember the time I made the hen costume out of feathers and chicken wire?

Or was that for her? No, I think that was for my first-born, when I was really keen.

Not for me the off-the-peg costumes which some of the rich kids had. Until I saw sense, realised how cheap those costumes really were and packed away my papier mache.

But it was still stressful. You'd be busy trying to make lunches and get them off to school when one of them would say, "where's my angel's wings?"

cursing

You'd be cursing the teachers with their "let's have a Halloween party!" suggestions and muttering darkly, "no wonder they want to have a party when they're off for the week!"

Oh, I was a real joy as a mother of small children - which is a pity because I don't have small children any more.

Halloween is tomorrow, my one remaining primary school kid doesn't even have a mask and she doesn't care.

I care. I want to be part of Halloween. Even if I stopped shadowing them at the doors long ago, still I was always hovering around, waiting for the boys to get in with the tuck, watching out for the girls.

I used to love the chance to get a look into the neighbours' houses, to be honest. We tend to keep to ourselves a bit on our road. But not on Halloween night.

They'd be out there with plastic knives through their heads and tomato ketchup all over their suits, company directors and all.

But you need the excuse of kids, don't you?

What happens next year when my little girl doesn't go out trick or treating at all? Do I still put a witch's hat on?

I have a friend who hides in the porch and scares the kids every year. She says she needs less and less make-up with the passing of time.

Where I lived first, a reserved couple turned their home into a haunted house every year at Halloween. You'd go in and everything would be quiet and then suddenly a skeleton would come leaping out of the coffin.

I used to think they were barking mad. Now, I think they probably just missed their kids being kids.

They manufactured a way to keep celebrating the season. That's what I've got to do.

It was never meant to be a kids' event. This is the end of the Celtic year, the time when we were closest to our own dead.

In many parts of Europe they celebrate November 1, All Saints' Day, with candles on the graves of their dead loved ones.

flickering

I'll never forget getting a bus through rural Poland on that day many years ago and seeing the dark landscape lit up by flickering lights.

I bought a candle in a supermarket and lit it and started bawling for my father who'd died many years before.

It was great. Cathartic.

But we've turned this mysterious time of year into a fancy dress party for children.

Well, watch this space because this adult is taking back Halloween.

My little Madam can busy herself straightening her hair. I'm getting myself a hat and broom for tomorrow and if my witch's brew works its magic you may yet see me streaking through the night sky.

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