I have always loved Halloween. I can remember when I was a kid, before I was even of school age, slipping on a plastic mask and my brother and I walking door to door with our mother to pose the age old question, “Trick or treat?” To this day I wonder if anybody ever chooses trick. When my son grows out of the trick ‘r treat stage and begins attending parties and gets up to shenanigans of his own and I’m left minding the front porch, handing out candy, I believe I’ll answer a costume clad adolescent with a firm, “Trick.”
But that’s down the line, I’ve still got a few years left before I’m retired to the sidelines (and with my great-nephew gearing up for his first Halloween, retirement may be put off even longer).
I come from a long line of Halloween fanatics and practical jokers. My father and his twin brother, both deceased now, had the longstanding Halloween tradition of disassembling their neighbor’s wagon and reassembling it on top of his barn. Every November 1st, their neighbor, by the name of Barney (my mother thinks), would complain about it and ask for help getting his wagon back on the ground. My dad and uncle gladly agreed to do the job for him. When they reached a certain age in their young adulthood, they stopped their annual prank in the belief they had outgrown it. Barney came by that very next morning and asked them why they hadn’t put his wagon on the barn. My dad and uncle were baffled and asked a question of their own: “You knew it was us?” Barney replied, “Yeah, that’s why I always asked you both to help me get it down.”
I think of that story a lot, especially at this time of the year. I’m not Wiccan, but there are things I like about the religion, such as honoring and remembering one’s ancestors. If we don’t understand who we were, we can’t understand who are. As I’ve matured (somewhat) over the years, I have gravitated toward this aspect of Halloween, of sharing stories of friends and family members who have passed away, especially recalling the stories for my son of those people he never had a chance to know.
There is a Samhain ancestor meditation for those interested. I’m not suggesting you try it, but, if I may, I do request you take time to think of your lost loved ones. You don’t have to create an ancestor altar of old photos and sentimental items. The pictures on your walls, or on the mantel, of those departed will do fine for a moment of reflection. Maybe hold a book given to you by an old friend who has long ago shrugged off this mortal coil. Think of those stories that make you laugh, that bring a smile to your face and make you feel like they are still here.
The best definition of time I have ever heard is that it is a point between two eternities. We are only here for a short amount of time and that brief tale of the clock makes life all the more precious. What better way to honor the lives of those who have made ours so much richer than to share their stories.
Their stories are our stories. Pass them on in the spirit of the season.