Friday, November 4, 2011

The Ghosts of Halloweens Past

 Well, am starting with the premise that looking back, reflecting on my past by visiting my stash of old journals, will help me consider my future more creatively. Thankfully I’ve already had some evidence that this will prove to be valid and a worthy use of my time.

It’s always fascinated me how memories surface, like pop up pictures in a children’s book. Sometimes I can recognize the trigger, but most frequently not. To be actively seeking them feels a bit like therapy.  

But this week I was visited by the Ghosts of Halloweens Past and I was encouraged that this will be a fun project, indeed.  I was writing in my current journal using the stream of consciousness approach to get me going on a particularly sluggish morning, spinning off a porcelain pumpkin in my den. Suddenly, the ghosts appeared.  Halloweens as a youngster, pre-store bought costumes, dressed as a pirate or hobo, traveling with a small band of neighborhood friends, invited into homes where we had to sing a song or tell a story or recite a poem to get a treat, usually a homemade cookie. Much simpler times.

Flash forward to Halloweens as a teacher. The 70’s, an open space, team teaching elementary school, my fondest memories of teaching. Curriculum freedom, creative license, experimentation. And no time more creative than Halloween, the true kids’ holiday. Our fourth, fifth and sixth grade students created their teachers’ costumes.  As I wrote, I laughed out loud remembering myself as Al Capone, a basketball player (all 4’11” of me), and a trash can – complete with an authentic lid for a hat! And the glee of the kids, the peals of laughter, the affection.

Then, Caspar appeared and presented my favorite Halloween memory.  Nine years ago, while I was exhausted from bouts of chemo, needing something to cheer me up, John set out to create a memorable evening. Armed with bowls of candy, he patiently waited by the front door. As groups of youngsters approached, he delivered a ghoulish laugh through our intercom system  and took unusual delight as the kids (and some of their parents) were stopped in their tracks. I don’t know who had more fun – I suspect it was John, with me a close second.

And that was the last special Halloween. No longer teaching, no children of our own, recent years of living in an age specific gated community, we have lost touch with the fun that Halloween can offer. So, although this is instigated by current journal writing and the future is only a week away, these warm memories have definitely spurred a flurry of creativity in our household.  I guess I’m still a kid at heart, because I can hardly wait.

“Memory is a wonderful gift.  With it, the past is never the past.”    - Hercule Poirot
                                                                                                  Cards on the Table

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