In Sweet Company

In Sweet Company

At the Heart of Halloween

“What had the most impact on me (as a young child)…was the trust (my grandparents) had in me …  the trust they had in my soul. They were celebrating that which existed in me that was independent of my years.” —Alma Flor Ada,, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE

I’m a great fan of Halloween. When I was two, my mom dressed me as a drum major in a red and gold costume that had a hat bigger than I was — something closer to a priest’s miter than a shako. (Yup! That’s what a drum major’s hat is called; a shako.) I’ve been dressing up ever since, roasting pumpkin seeds, writing and performing in Halloween plays, wearing my plastic pumpkin ring, dishing out more candy than I eat as the years go by, but loving it all the same.


I wouldn’t say I’m a Halloween Aficionado, but I would have said I’m well versed in what the holiday has to offer. Or so I thought, until we moved to the Bay Area where residents decorate their houses much as people do at Christmas: (orange) glowing lights circle the rooftops and the trees, elaborate holiday scenes are replicated on front lawns, visitation schedules are posted for all manner of lookie loos who ooh and ah the decorations. Who knew there were so many different shades of orange?

I’ve lived in Southern California most of my adult life, and in Detroit when I as a kid. I don’t know if other areas of the country go to these same lengths at Halloween, but lately it sure is fun to get stuck at a long light in a residential area or take a quick left off Ashby onto a side street when a bit of something orange catches my eye.


I haven’t decided what I’ll be this year for Halloween. I have boxes and boxes full of faux jewelry and turquoise boas, a witch prom dress, a candy cane pink yarn wig, a pair of blue and white saddle shoes that have seen a lot of dancing. The great thing is, I can be whatever I want to be. I seem to remember my mom whispering these words to me when I was little drum major.

Your thoughts?

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