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Friday, October 24, 2014

Tales from a Mom suffering from Samhainphobia - Yup, Fear of Halloween

Yes, that is a real phobia.  And yes, I diagnosed myself.  But I’m pretty sure I have it.  I do try to embrace this all-American holiday that everyone else seems to love but I just can’t get into it.  In fact, I really don’t like it and I can’t wait for it to be over.  It wasn’t always like that.  I used to love Halloween -- when it was all about the Great Pumpkin and cute costumes and the thrill of knocking on a door and getting free candy (that part is brilliant, let’s face it).

            Then came high school, and Halloween got, well, DARKER.  Instead of the Great Pumpkin, we started to watch movies like “My Bloody Valentine.”  Instead of the little kids dressing up like cowboys and princesses, classmates were dressing up like zombies and murder victims.  And it seemed to be the mission of every boy in high school to scare the crap out of you.   You guys know who you are – the ones that jumped out from dark corners in a devil costume yelling “BOO!” Thanks a Million, guys, you’re lucky they never had to get the defibrillator for me.
            Then I went to NYU and moved to New York City.  The NYC version of the ritual known as Halloween can only be described as – well, I can’t describe it – you would have to experience it for yourself.  Aand if you’re over 25 that ship has sailed.  Let’s just say it’s the absolute pinnacle of Halloween excess.  The Halloween parade in Greenwich Village is off the charts.  The costumes are Academy Award worthy and they have full on parade floats.  From which they blast dance music, with everybody in the street partying and dancing.  It’s the street party of the year, and it makes you happy to be in your twenties.  Unless you are scared of Halloween, and then it stinks.  But I endured.
            And so when I moved back Upstate (yes, sorry guys, looking North from Manhattan, this is upstate.  But, you know, anything north of 125th Street is Upstate to New Yorkers).  I decided to shun all things Halloween.  Every Halloween, I pretended it was just another ordinary day and watched uplifting movies (OK, yes, I watched Mulan and other Disney movies, you got me).  I refused to acknowledge the existence of Halloween at all.  And all around me, the cult of Halloween-fun and Zombie-fun began to morph and grow.  Still, I refused to give in and celebrate Halloween.
            Then things changed again.  They always do when you have children.  At first, Halloween was easy and cute.  You know, costumes from the Disney store and decorations from Pottery Barn Kids.  Then the kids started trick or treating and I realized that there are a lot of people who enjoy scaring the  Snickers out of trick or treaters.  Okay, truth be told, my kids thought it was entertaining, but I did not -- when we would walk up to a house and some suburban Dad would jump out from behind a tree looking like Beetlejuice and revving a chainsaw. 
            And then, a couple of years ago, Michael said to me, as he rooted around his plastic pumpkin, looking for Peppermint patties:  “Mommy, why are you so scared of Halloween?”
            Isn’t every body scared of Halloween?, I asked.
            “No,” he said, “it’s just a lot of theater and makeup.”  And that’s when it hit me.  The kids enjoy the pageantry and imagination of it all.  The ability to completely turn into another person (or superhero or monster) for the night.  The ability to live in a world populated completely by Imagination.  And candy.  And I vowed to face my fears and embrace Halloween.
            Last year, I started the Zombie Oktoberfest tradition, as a fundraiser for the Newburgh Rowing Club.  I bought a Bride of Frankenstein costume and was a “pretty zombie.”  This year, I stepped it up, and had full on Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) makeup done, by the fabulous Chloe, who also gave Michael some pretty scary Zombie facepainting.  The fundraiser at the Newburgh Brewing Co was a success both years, especially this year when we added in “Zombie Zumba.”  And finally, this year, tonight actually, I will be going with my kids and the Student Ambassador Quad to the ultra frightening “Headless Horseman” in Kingston. 
Yes, I am scared.  But I also want to show my kids that it’s OK and legitimate to have fear.  After all, we ask our kids to face their fears all the time.  Every time they go to a new school.  Every time they get on stage to perform in a play or orchestra.  Every time they lace up for football, suit up for soccer, or Sit Ready in a crew shell.  I can’t very well ask them to face their fears if Mommy is scared of Halloween.  So yeah, if you are at Headless Horseman, and you see a Mom with a bunch of kids, burying her face in her 10 year old son’s shoulder, screaming like a banshee, that would be me.  And for Pete’s sake, please don’t tell me they have scary clowns, that’s a whole other phobia!
Have a great day and a happy Halloween, everyone!  And don’t forget, you could win a $50.00 gift card in the Mrs. Lo’s Halloween contest, if you are a fan of the page.  Just read the pinned post for more info! <3 Mrs. Lo (collage of some Zombie Oktoberfest photos from last year and this year)