Oklahoma is on the verge of celebrating a spectacular display of fall foliage all around the state. The first frost blanketed the grasses just a week ago. And a crisp, morning chill melds with the eventual warmth of the rising sun, allowing for another balmy, autumn day.
Along with that, comes the hype and ridiculousness of the Halloween season. While masses of people buy loads of pumpkins to create Jack-O-Lanterns, and decorate with bats, ghosts and skeletons, I do not participate in the mayhem. On “All Hallows Eve” I shut off the lights and hide in the dark. Halloween lost its luster for me long ago.
My reasons for disliking the Halloween holiday are simple: it was embarrassing and mortifying for me as a kid. My siblings and I attended a Lutheran parochial school and, oddly, we were allowed to celebrate Halloween by wearing our costumes to school all day. Now, there were some rules about the costumes. It was not considered appropriate to come as any character that was seen as sacrilegious or offensive to the church, so most of my schoolmates came as harmless beings. Some were ghosts and pirates. Some came as real-life characters; airline stewardesses, car mechanics, chefs, or nurses. A few were super heroes or cartoon characters. Others were elegant figures like movie stars or dancers. Hardly anyone had store-bought costumes. Most of us came from farm families, and did not have money to spare for a costume. Halloween wasn’t about evil and darkness back in the 60’s when I was a young girl. It was more about fantasy and fun. One might pull a harmless prank, but it was rare to hear of a destructive deed.
My best friend Lori, dressed as a gypsy one year. Her mother had a cache of old clothing and jewelry. Lori’s sisters had helped create her ensemble, consisting of a long, colorful skirt and a white blouse, adorned with lots of flashy, sparkly, vintage jewelry. She had a bandana head wrap and scarves, and a jingly belt and shoes encrusted with flashy sequins. Oh, how I longed to look just like her. But, alas, I had come to school with no costume.
My mom didn’t have the time nor the resources to create an elaborate costume for me. Most of the time, Mom purchased a few store-bought masks for us kids to wear on Halloween. We didn’t even have sheets to spare for a simple ghost costume, which is what most of the farm kids wore. That particular Halloween day at school, Lori felt sorry for me, so she shared some of her jewelry and a scarf. I marveled at the rhinestone hoops that adorned her ears, and she let me borrow one of them. I knew she meant well, but I was teased even more by wearing half of her costume. Eventually, I gave her the earring, scarf and necklaces back. My Halloween spirit now sufficiently broken, I sat in my gloom and misery, amongst the taunters.
As I got older, I was thankful that it was no longer cool to dress up for Halloween. I was thankful not to have to take my siblings trick-or-treating in the neighborhood we lived in. To me, it was embarrassing to ask for candy. I was always a serious child. I never liked asking strangers for anything. The only good thing I got from Halloween outings, was seeing the joy of my younger siblings as they went door to door for candy. And, I can honestly say, our neighbors were good to us and very kind. We were the only kids on the block, and with a dad that was always yelling at us, I’m sure they felt pity for us much of the time.
Some time ago, a package arrived from a dear friend with a note saying I had won a little contest that he had sponsored for the Japanese Chin chat group I associate with. Elated that I had finally won something, I could not wait to see what my prize was! After opening the large, flat, bubble-wrap envelope, I discovered a most fabulous, feathered, Mardi Gras mask! I immediately ran to the large mirror in the bathroom, carefully putting the mask on, and marveled at the beauty of the exquisite piece. Looking at myself in the mirror, I was thrilled by the transformation I saw! What an exciting photography prop this was! I loved the mysterious “cat-like” qualities the mask exuded. Wearing it, I felt both shy and reclusive, yet feisty, ferocious and playful. How could it be that a simple mask could bring out something within that I did not realize I possessed?
I carefully hung the exquisite feather mask in a safe area, waiting for a time when FD and I could take some appropriate photographs. Weeks turned into months, and occasionally I would gaze at the mask thinking to myself that we really needed to have a fun photo session with it as our prop. Then recently, the same dear friend sent a pair of black gloves with long, silver fingernails attached to the fingertips! I had never seen anything like them! Just sliding them on my hands felt like silk, causing my rough, “working” hands to take on an elegant, yet “cat-like” quality. Again, I felt this strange, inner transformation… I longed to be this exotic creature with mysterious eyes, flamboyant feathers, and claw-like nails. Who was this inner creature?
Recently, FD and I chose an evening where we could finally devote a little time to doing a quick photo shoot in the canyon with my new props. It was fairly late in the evening so, out of approximately 60 photos, only a couple turned out well. To boot, Daisy deer showed up and foiled any chances of coming up with very many great shots. If she wasn’t licking at one of the two cameras or pulling on the camera straps, she was trying to nibble my gloves, and she was completely fascinated with the feathers on the mask. She reared up on her hind legs trying to get a better look at those interesting feathers! After the evening shadows filtered in, we finally gave up, and decided to try taking more another time when Daisy wasn’t around.
When we got back up to the house, FD and I had a good laugh at all the ill-fated photographs. But it also dawned on me at that point; I finally had found a costume that fit my personality. After many decades of feeling inadequate during the Halloween celebration, and having a sour attitude about it for many years, I realized, that Halloween had finally arrived for me! This was a costume that was part of my skin; my personality! I realized this is what it must feel like for millions of kids on Halloween, who get to live the dream of being their idol, favorite character, or role model. Somehow, this feathered mask allowed me to slip into the role of a mysterious, woodland creature. I felt fabulous and alluring. I found myself feeling shy and timid, yet at the same time ferocious and downright predatory! The claw-like gloves added to the prowess of the feline I resembled. I felt as one with this interesting being, and I felt something deep and spiritual within. On this eve, Littlesundog had connected with the woodlands, in her own right. And now, just in time for Hallows Eve 2012, she has become the wild, woodland feline.
© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…