The Simple Joys of Halloween

Sometimes it’s the little things that make Halloween such a magical time of year.

As the dog days of summer wind down and the school buses start rolling through our neighborhood streets again, the thoughts of many of us start to drift whimsically forward to the sound of freshly fallen leaves rustling along our sidewalks and backward to the sincere pumpkin patches of our youth.

Summer vacation starts to lose its blistering luster and begins to wilt in the August humidity, and most of us would gladly give up our healthy tans for a refreshing blast of crisp fall air. The long shadows of the Halloween season are only a few weeks further on the horizon.

It’s at this time of year when those of us born with the Halloween gene start daydreaming about ghosts, witches, black cats, jack-o-lanterns and haunted houses. Well, start daydreaming about these things more than usual anyway—

As someone who grew up in Baptist Bible School with a fundamental belief in the goodness of Christianity, my obsession with the Festival of Samhain might make me appear to be a walking contradiction in the eyes of mainstream America. Certainly, I may have taken Robert Frost’s road “less traveled by,” but I’ve never seen the orange-and-black path as the Highway to Hell.

Halloween feels more like home to me, and I suspect, to many of you as well.

Although there are a lot of big events coming our way very soon, from Zombies Walks to Halloween Parades to Costume Parties, for me it’s always the little things that bring the greatest joy. It’s the things you don’t need to clear your calendar to plan for or break your piggy bank to budget for that make the biggest impact on the soul.

Let’s celebrate a few of those things.

Paper Halloween Decorations: Especially Beistle Company die cut decorations. Beistle was formed in 1900 and has been creating simple paper and honeycomb decorations for Halloween since 1921. Flaming skulls, dancing jack-o-lanterns, scratch cats, jointed skeletons, green-faced witches, honeycomb pumpkins and glow-in-the-dark ghosts! Yours for the spare change in your pocket, just a glimpse of any of these iconic images puts me immediately in the Halloween spirit.

The First Taste of Candy Corn in October: Honestly, I’m not that big of a fan of candy corn, and I certainly can’t eat it like popcorn, but the first bite of this yellow, orange and white magic sugar bomb instantly transports me to the Halloweens of my trick-or-treating youth with all the sights, sounds and smells so real that it’s almost like being there again.

Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses: Just like candy corn, these orange and black wrapped candies were a staple of my trick-or-treat bag all those years ago, but unlike the much more coveted Snickers bars or Milky Ways, you couldn’t get these year around which ultimately made them much more special.

Scary Sound Effects Records: Yes, I said records, but CDs and streaming audio work just as well. There’s nothing like sitting in a dark room and listening to simulated thunderstorms, creaking doors, disembodied screams and buzzing laboratory equipment while your imagination takes you to haunted castles and creepy graveyards. Walt Disney’sChilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House” might be the godfather of all scary sound effects records, but you can still find these multi-track, audio spook shows today at stores like Caufield’s Novelty.

Universal Monster Movies: Although there are still plenty of good creepy movies being made today from “The Conjuring” to “Krampus,” the atmospheric chills of these simple black-and-white-movies of the 1930’s and 1940’s manage to capture the very essence of Halloween. Long before Freddy, Jason and Michael became Halloween icons, Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man ruled the castle.

Pumpkin Spice Everything: I once thought the concept of pumpkin spice coffee was the ultimate achievement of mankind, but now we can indulge in pumpkin spice candles, Oreos, air fresheners, Pop Tarts, doughnuts and just about anything else you can smell or eat. You can now have Halloween for breakfast, lunch and supper.

Autumn Foliage: This is nature’s fall paintbrush. The glorious green of Kentucky magically transforms into a canvas of gold, red, orange and brown. The old saying that ‘The Best Things in Life are Free’ is certainly true of the Halloween season.

The Phantom of The Ville

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