For our first ever guest post, our friend Matt LaFleur reflects on his love of Halloween and all things spooky.
Maybe it’s a fault of mine for loving Halloween so much. I can feel the wholesomeness of those who say their favorite holiday is Easter; I feel I should genuflect whenever I’m around them. They are the kind of people who send group texts on Easter morning: “Alleluia! He is risen!”
I am not one of those people.
Nor am I the type of person whose family has a birthday cake on Christmas and sings the happy birthday song to our Lord and Savior.
Maybe I have a problem: I don’t normally say “Alleluia!” and I think having a birthday party for God Incarnate is silly.
Even though I am a stick-in-the-mud when it come to fluffy and pious holidays, I am not always a nihilist. A perfect storm comes in October. The faux spider-webs and rubber smell of costume masks coming from the seasonal aisle in grocery stores fill me with anticipation.
Something wicked awesome this way comes.
My Halloween-attraction may have reasonable roots. As someone born in mid-November, my childhood birthday parties were often celebrated early as Halloween parties. So wearing costumes, cooler weather, and orange and black spookiness fill me with a childhood glee. Maybe I never quite escaped that association.
Speaking of association, another reason I give for my love of Halloween is a psychological one. The symptoms of my gradually debilitating disorder, Friedreich’s ataxia, first showed up around age 10, the time I most cherished Halloween. The amazing candy. The air of fear for fun’s sake. The dressing up as a character, something other than you are normally. The escapism.
Wrapped up in my fondness for this holiday is the strange religious treatment of it. Halloween is popularly celebrated around here, in the densely Catholic land South Louisiana; but the most pious Catholics and many of my friends in Protestantism begrudgingly dole out candy and allow kids to dress in costume. They sometimes futilely name their celebration “Holy-ween,” and encourage kids to dress as Saints or Bible characters. Only the most unfortunate kids are forced to comply.
I won’t go into the fact that the root of Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve is the evening of All Saints’ Day. Because I don’t care. People will always find a reason to avoid the dark, the unsettling. Avoiding fear, and any reminder of death, is only natural; whether you use a nightlight or a Bible to do so.
Maybe both my childhood memories and coping with an unusual disorder made me this way: I love Halloween. I love losing myself in the dark, confronting chills and thrills.
One of my favorite things in the world is being in a movie theater as the lights dim and a scary movie begins, because I know that I will make it to the end of the movie, and laugh about it later.
Sometimes a reminder that I can overcome even my greatest fears invigorates me.
“Just because I cannot see it, doesn’t mean I can’t believe it!”
Jack Skellington is arriving at his eureka moment as he sings this. His ridiculously long and lanky limbs, draped in a black pinstripe suit, hold up his awkwardly spherical skull head. Solitary in his tower, he questions his newfound love of Christmas, though he is a creature of Halloween, in the 1994 film The Nightmare Before Christmas.
“Oh,” my mom sighed as she walked into the living room. “You’re watching that. Again.”
She was frustrated, since I watched that movie over and over again as a child. She never forbade me from watching it, but the overall creepiness of the film repelled her.
My mom served as a reminder of the way most people view spookiness.
In a way, maybe I am the reverse Jack Skellington- born into piety, in a religious family, in a religious part of the country. My temperament and fear of sinning solidified me as an upright child of Christmas; but I was drawn to Halloween. Like Jack, I wanted to claim that holiday for my own. And maybe like Jack, as the movie shows, I will eventually crash and burn, but I can’t stop enjoying the creepy. I won’t stop.
Now in my thirties, I still smile when the air turns crisp. I never got over the sweet-tooth I had as a child, so I like to buy Halloween candy mix.To be honest, no kids come trick-or-treating at my house. I live off a busy highway, not in a cozy, kid-friendly neighborhood. No, I buy the Halloween candy just for me.
Maybe there is starting to be a legend among the kids in my small town, that the creepy old man who lives in that house next to the bayou who loves Halloween is up to something…I can only hope.
I am a child of holiness, of Christmas, drawn to the realm of shadow and spookiness. Allow me this. Don’t pelt me with your religiosity, your downward looks, and your pitying sighs. We all deal with the dark in different ways; some avoid it at all costs. Some make a game out of it and learn to see in it.
The idea of Halloween and Christmas mash-ups still are powerful to me. Last year, I found what has become my favorite horror podcast, Creepy.
My favorite episode is one in that combination of Christmas and spooky. (Warning: this episode terrifies me. Not for the faint of heart [Kristen].)
May your holiday be candy-filled, fun, and more than a little spooky. Happy Halloween.
Matt Lafleur is trying to get by as best he can. He battles his genetic disorder, Friedreich’s Ataxia, everyday. He wants to be known for more than just that though. He loves Marybeth, Kristen, and Halloween. You can read more from him over at Friedrich’s Ataxia News.