Halloween- also known as “All Hollow’s Eve”, “All Saint’s Eve” or “The Devil’s Holiday”, has many different traditions and meanings among people of faith, different religions and spiritualists. Though the traditions among different faiths and cultures may be drastically different, they all revolve around one main concept- honoring those who died before us. I’ve always loved Halloween and all that is associated with it, including horror movies, caramel apples, apple scented candles and the smell of firewood burning from a neighbor’s chimney. This is the first year that our family did not go trick-or-treating in my parent’s old neighborhood (with exception of COVID ruining all the fun in 2020). For as long as I can remember, we always had a mini Halloween party at my parent’s house, where we would eat spooky themed snacks/foods, take photos of the family in their costumes and then at 6 o’clock sharp, we embarked on the large neighborhood for buckets filled with candy.
As an adult, my love for all things Halloween have stayed the same, but the holiday itself has taken on a new meaning. As someone who has lost someone very close to me over the course of 4 years, I can’t help but to think of the Christian holiday “All Saint’s Day”. When I was in Catholic school as a child, we would choose a Saint to dress up as, and on November 1st, we wore the Saint’s “costume” to school and stood up in front of everyone and said who we were, what we were popular fork, when we became a Saint, and why we chose that particular Saint. I often always dressed as St. Cecelia, the patron Saint of Music- all for the obvious reasons. When it came time for confirmation in 8th grade, I also chose St. Cecelia as my chosen middle name in the Catholic church.
This Halloween evening, I can’t help but to feel especially connected to the Mexican holiday, “Dia de los Muertos”, or “Day of the Dead”. If you’ve seen the movie Coco, you know what the day represents and the core beliefs behind making an alter of gifts and offerings (called the ofrenda in Spanish), to show love and appreciation for those who have passed on. Since I’ve lost my Mother in January, I have thought hard about who and what would be on my family’s ofrenda if I were ever to make one. No, I unfortunately do not have any Spanish lineage, or Spanish blood flowing through my veins, but I have always felt a connection to the Spanish culture and the beautiful language. My ofrenda would be so colorful and would represent the love I have for my family members, especially those who we have lost recently, and would absolutely have Garlic bread on it, but only if it’s burnt (like my dad likes to make it-LOL). I would like to believe that my children would want to honor me after I pass on, too, as a symbol of respect and love. Though I did not make an alter of glorious colors or a loaf of garlic bread, our family celebrated together as best we could. This is the first of the three favorite holidays of my mother’s- Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The traditions passed down to us from generations before us, have really impacted how we celebrate holidays in our home.
As you can imagine, taking Greyson out trick-or-treating, or anywhere really, is typically a difficult task. We have been trying very hard to take him out places with us, almost doing our own little “exposure therapy” with him, so he can at least tolerate being out among the public. We have recently started taking him to the grocery store, to the local town fair, to different stores and out to do fall things as a family, in addition to trick-or-treating. These little trips begin with 1 adult and his behavior support staff, just in case he throws a tantrum or becomes aggressive. After one or two trips with the behavior staff and parent, we ween out the staff and have just 1-on-1 with Greyson. He especially likes going to the grocery store on Saturday mornings with Daddy, to get donuts for breakfast, and he really enjoyed riding along in the wagon for apple picking.
As we near the end of 2022, I must say that I am SO happy to end this year and welcome 2023. The next few months will bring times of joy, times of sadness and times of hope, but at least I’ll have my family by my side to get me there.