Guardian of Paris by Debbie Klosowski
I have a confession to make. I love Halloween. I have always loved Halloween and becoming an adult has not changed that love one iota. As soon as the season changes to autumn, the pumpkins come out. The orange lights grace my bushes, the funny and not so funny witch faces appear on walls and shelves, vampires and ghosts start to populate my front porch and my piano. I think up costumes for the year because yes I have to be in costume every Halloween. It just is.
When I was young, Halloween was about all of those things but also about the candy. We lived in a very small town in northern Canada in the 60’s and my younger brother and I would roam the town the entire evening stopping at every house holding out our pillowcases until they were so full we had to go home or we would never get the haul back to the house. The next hours (or days) were spent sorting out all of the candy we had gathered and rejoicing. We were good until Christmas! In later years I was delegated to taking my younger sisters out to trick or treat but that did not diminish the love I had for knocking on a door and having treats handed out to us. Or to admire all of the creative costumes people had come up with. There didn’t seem to be real monsters at that time. There was no fear of razor blades in apples or tainted candy. There just wasn’t.
As a young adult, Halloween was always party time. Costumes got more elaborate and fun to imagine. I spent one Halloween in a long red velvet dress, both it and my face covered in soot, convincing everyone I was Scarlett O’Hara after the burning of Atlanta. My southern accent seemed authentic enough but the joy of hiding behind a character was the real thrill. So it is with Halloween. It is the chance to become something other then we are and have fun with it. It’s also a time to scare ourselves with delicious thrills. People can dress or become the most fearful aspects of human nature and still be accepted. Creepy masks and ugly depictions of horror seem to thrill and excite everyone. Perhaps because on every other day of the year these things are taboo. In recent years my Halloween alter ego has been variations of a witch. Maybe I am embracing the crone stage of life but it is more likely that the wish to have some sort of control over events even for a day encourages this magical thinking.
Waiting for Halloween by Debbie Klosowski
Although Halloween is the time to embrace such things, the truth is we all wear masks. We all have a secret self that we hide from the world. Most of the time that is how we negotiate ourselves through this human experience. It reminds me of the message of that iconic song by The Police “Spirits in the Material World”. We are all trying to navigate this messy, lovely existence the best way we can. But there is no doubt that monsters dwell among us wearing masks that sometimes slip to show their real nature. Mass murderers. Rapists. Predators. Arsonists. Racists. It’s as though something has been pulled back and ugly things are crawling out of the mud to come to light once again. The drawn curtain is revealing our scariest selves. The public masks have been peeled back to reveal the true face of darkness and it is not pretty.
As scary as this all is, perhaps we should recognize an opportunity when we see one. Maybe it’s time to face the ugly side of human nature and try to heal these fissures. Perhaps we have been a bit complacent in the past years thinking that things like racism, sexism and discrimination of all sorts in the workplace, in our community and in our social group were eradicated or it was easier to look the other way or brush off bad behavior as normal when really they were just waiting for the right time to rear up again. Now is that time. Now is the time to really dig deep to decide what each of us believes to be good and true. But it will not be easy. It takes faith and conviction and a whole lot of courage. If we celebrate Halloween just to scare ourselves well we have much more work to fight the demons then just that one day. This year I don’t see the masks and the costumes disappearing on November 1st. It’s not just make believe anymore.
Fast forward 50 years from that small town in the 60’s and I am still trying to figure out what my Halloween costume will be this year. There seems to be such an array to chose from but in reality I know it will reflect some secret part of myself. Warrior Princess Leia from Star Wars? Anne Boleyn still trying to hold onto her head? Esmeralda dancing on the steps of Notre Dame? I have been all of those and more. It’s going to take some time to think about the face I want to show the world this October 31st. I can’t wait to see what comes out.
via Daily Prompt: Infinite
One of my new resolutions has been to step out of my comfort zone so this morning I decided to take on a daily prompt challenge from WordPress. The challenge was to write about the word Infinite. Crazy to say but that word conjures up a lot of things for me. The nature of the universe. What it feels like to wait for health test results. The number of New Year’s resolutions I’ve made and broken. The love I have for my children.
It’s hard to think of time in any kind of linear manner. It’s a strange thing to look back at thousands of years of history or to imagine looking forward into the future that same number of years. Time is often categorized as infinite. But is it? Just because we can’t see the beginning or the end doesn’t necessarily make it that. So I muse on the word infinite because I am on the cusp of breaking yet another resolution 8 days into the new year. Perhaps it is my capacity to believe that one year I actually will achieve all that I have resolved to do that is infinite. Or perhaps I need to realize that resolutions in themselves, like time, are not linear.
The word Infinite also conjures up magical things. One’s capacity for love can be infinite. Imagination is infinite. Ideas seem to be infinite. The varied ways to create a product or discover a new scientific method or publish an epic writing seems infinite. Certainly last year’s election season felt infinite, making the idea of infinite not always a good thing. But I think the beauty of infinite is that there is a promise that nothing lasts forever and there is always time to change. That the human capacity to do so is infinite in itself. That we can all reset and regroup and yes make new resolutions with each calendar day.
Looking out my window, the rain sometimes seems infinite. The same job routine can feel infinite. Time between visits to loved ones feels infinite. Sitting through a boring movie can be infinite. Yet being able to sit here and imagine all that seems infinite, I recognize, is a gift. To be able to sit in a warm home, with a cat sleeping beside me, a cup of coffee on a quiet Sunday morning, yes, with that soft sometimes infinite rain pattering on my roof and I realize my capacity for gratitude is infinite as well. My daily blessing of good health after a life threatening illness feels infinite. The time I get to spend, one more year, one more life event with my children feels infinitely incredible and humbling. That tiny flame of grace makes life feel infinite sometimes. And for that I am infinitely grateful. Happy January Sunday. My next resolution awaits. Namaste.
Bing Crosby crooned so many years ago that he would be home for Christmas whether in his dreams or not. The sentiment in that song suggested yearning and hope and the cherished arms of family surrounding the person who had been away from loved ones for some time. It was a prayer and a lament for one who was far from home and longed to be sitting at that familiar and safe hearth. I know that longing very well. I left my home to follow my dreams, going on 40 years now. My pining for home during the holidays was deep and strong but after some time I slowly settled where I was. And if truth be told in all of those years I have only been home for a handful of Christmases.
Looking back, it was not for lack of wanting or trying. Some years I just did not have the money to go home. I suppose I could have asked for it but that was something I was never comfortable with. I felt that I had made this choice to go and I had to live by it. During the passing of years, however, life kind of starting folding in on itself. I have always loved the holidays so I began creating my own Christmas traditions with the loved ones I was with and in the place I was already. I have been fortunate to have had friends to celebrate with. I had a boyfriend, then I had a husband. Then we had a child and then we had another.
We started our own family traditions around our own hearth. The times I went back to my family home, I was in those wonderful celebrations but I was no longer of them. Their Christmas traditions folded in on themselves to adjust to my absence. I have held some of those traditions for my own little family. Certain foods on Christmas day. A festive tree and twinkling lights. But we have created many new traditions for ourselves. I am grateful that my children have memories that have kept their own home alive for them.
The beauty of not being home for Christmas is that you are open to the myriad of ways people celebrate. It could be Christmas but it could just as well be Hanukkah. It could also be Ramadan or Kwanzaa. It could be the Winter Solstice. Wonderful traditions, ceremonies, foods to celebrate the end of a year and the promise of the new one. December is everyone’s month and it is no one’s. Who could possibly claim it for themselves alone? The lights of the stars shine on everyone and I have yet to meet someone from any background who does not wish upon them. It’s a joy to learn other ways to celebrate. Those magical and joyous days are filled with such beauty.
Now my own children are adults. Now they are moving away and creating their own traditions. I find that hard. I find that karma has caught up with me in many ways although I am not really certain that’s how it works. It just feels that way. I want everything to stay the same and it doesn’t. It can’t. That is not the nature of time nor of life. If I have learned anything it has to be this. Some days I can find the traditions that make me long for those more innocent days when I was a child myself. But more often I celebrate the myriad of beautiful traditions that come to me from many sources. Life is a prism. It is a collage. It is the melting pot we are blessed with. What could be more magical then that?
Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Eid Mubarak. Blessed Be. May you be home wherever you are.