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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween - is this OUR holiday?

I have always questioned Halloween's motives in my children's lives. Don't get me wrong, I took great pleasure dressing up Bear as a 9 month old Care Bear (of course) and was sure to get a great pic of the tiny red heart on her butt! I even lugged her around in the wagon from door to door to "show her off" and collect candy that she would never eat. (Um -take a guess who DID eat it?)

The next years were equally exciting leading up to Halloween. I vaguely remember Dora, Curious George, Purple Cat, Orange Pelican and Scooby Doo costumes. However, I always found the anticipation outweighed the actual day. Let's face it, October 31st is rarely warm here in Vermont! (don't tell that I told you but, some years we actually have the snow!)


Entering this world with a sister already in heaven is not a typical childhood family trait so I reach for any concepts to help them radify this. But, this holiday has innocuous beginnings to be sure. There isn't any religous death and rising to grab onto and be shocked and dismayed as it gets (gasp) commercialized. There aren't any historical principles so foundational that we check various books out of the library to educate our little ones about the effortless freedom they possess.

There is, however, a very clear connection to death. All Hallows' Eve, All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day are all days of rememberance for our loved ones who have passed. All Souls Day also called, "Day of the Dead" is November 2nd (or as the article states, the next day if the 2nd falls on a Sunday), because for some reason we can't honor our dead on a Sunday?)

So, I ask the question...Is This OUR Holiday? Ours to embrace as mothers, fathers, grandparents, and siblings of a family member who has passed? Lord knows - the "other" celebration holdiays can be infinately difficult for us.

The last two years my family has been invited to a Day of the Dead Celebration. It is very well done by a culturally aware family who has lived in El Salvador and in the States. It is attended to from every angle with books, visual aides and children's activities to teach about the holiday. But we haven't gone.

Now, with the trick or treat night only a few days away I find myself wondering why? I held off on the alter, the food offering, standing up in front of the crowd and speaking of Emma for the girls. I worried it would be just a bit "too much" for them to emotionally assimilate and maybe solidify the otherwise abstract concept of "a dead sister".

But, seriously, who am I kidding? Dressing them up in equally abstract outfits and marching them around the neighborhood to collect sugar doesn't honor her properly, or at all for that matter.

Bear and Comedian have lived "with" Emma from the first days they could understand speech. She was Bear's first word. She is Comedian's "friend who lives in the bush". They care for her, celebrate her birthday for her, set up gorgeous candle rememberances for her, so why shouldn't they know of the The Day of the Dead?

So I've been mulling this over for a while and here is the funny part. Bear is in Kindergarten surrounded by "What are you going to be for Halloween" talk and although she is excited to walk around town and collect candy, she has yet to pick a costume. As of yesterday she said, "I don't need one. I'll just walk around and get candy". Right on - right? I mean, if this holiday has shifted from respecting and remembering our dead to dressing up in commericalized costumes and getting sugar highs, then lets just get the candy!

Then, there is The Comedian's take on this "scawwwwwy" holiday. But, this particular post has rambled on long enough with a contemplatitive / sarcastic tone so I won't include it here. But, if you would like to hear my hillarious little girl's Halloween proclamation then you will have to check back at The Bear and The Comedian tomorrow. (Trust me...it's funny!

Oh - and I'll post pictures of "Halloween Costumes Past" as it appears there won't be any this year. We will, however, make a point to remember their sister who lives in heaven.

3 comments:

Martha said...

Hmm, very thoughtful and insightful post, Cara. I have studied theology and have always been amused by the "co-opting" of Pagan or Roman rituals by Christians in order to gain acceptance. It's become a celebration of the all mighty dollar and sugar high I suppose. Plus, costumes for girls are so tarty! (that's the real scary part.) Living in Los Angeles, the Day of the Dead is celebrated November 1st. It's beautiful that this culture embraces their dead and celebrates life, of which death is a part. That's what it truly is to me, a celebration of life and acceptance of this other dimension outside of our meager senses. ((Hugs))

Kristin said...

{{{Hugs}}}

CLC said...

I have been thinking about this too. Our church invited us to display a picture of our loved ones and go to a luncheon after church on Sunday. I opted out. I don't want anyone gawking at my baby thinking how sad, but not actually really remembering her. And I think I am the only one who truly can.

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