Amazing Maize and Other Halloween Traditions by Valerie J. Patterson

I’m trapped.  I can’t get out.  I see no exit, and there are no windows.  I’m surrounded by, well, corn!  And it was a great experience!

A couple years ago I took my Sunday school class to a fright farm—not to see ghouls or goblins, but rather to go through a maize maze.  Have you ever been?  Yes?  Then you know how much fun they are.  No?  Then search for one in your area and go!

The Maize Maze I went to was 7 and a half acres of corn, 2 and a half miles of trails, and had one way in and one way out.  The brochure said to allow 4 hours to get through the maze.  Throughout the maze, there were food and beverage stations, tuba phones (for getting help from farm employees), bridges used to gain a vantage point to search for your next step forward, and clues to solving the puzzle, the mystery of the maze.  It was an excellent adventure!  Just when you were certain you were headed in the right direct, BAM!, you hit a dead end and have to retrace your steps.  The stalks of corn are taller than you are, so you have no choice but to press on and follow the path not only looking for the way out, but also searching for the next clue that will allow you to solve the mystery of the maze.

Before you know it, you’re so engrossed in your endeavor that hours fly right by and you find yourself at the exit.  As you step across that finish line, you turn and peer one last time at this humungous maze and you know that you’ve achieved success.  You conquered the maze and solved the mystery.

I really enjoy autumn, and Halloween can be and should be a fun holiday.  I’m not much for fright houses, horror movies, or monsters, but I enjoy searching for the perfect pumpkin and then carving it.  I like hayrides and bonfires.  I like the rich earthy tones associated with autumn gardens and decorating, and I adore masquerade parties!  I like the appeal of the mask hiding your identity until someone figures it out and gives you away.

When I was a sophomore in school my youth group had a masquerade party.  I worked and worked on my costume.  My mom helped me.  I sewed a hula hoop into the waistband of a pair of men’s trousers, then sewed a dress shirt to the outside of the waist of the trousers, making a one piece outfit.  I pulled my hair into a bun and scrunched it under a work hat.  Added a pair of work boots, and took some ashes from the fireplace, which I smeared on my cheeks.  I left my eyeglasses at home and had my dad drop me off a block from the youth center so no one could see me with him and gain access to my identity.

Inside the center, I walked over to a group of my girlfriends and waited.  They each turned and looked at me.  “Great costume.” I heard from several of them.  I nodded and smiled, but didn’t dare speak.  I was out to see how long it took them to figure out who I was.  Eventually, they wandered away from me and I heard, “I thought Valerie was coming tonight?  Anyone see her?”

I smiled and refrained from squealing.

One of the cute guys asked me to dance, which completely took me by surprise because I was not wearing an attractive outfit by any stretch of the imagination.  Plus, whenever I danced, the hula hoop sort of caused my costume to go in every direction at once.

He kept asking me questions, which I kept refusing to answer.  A slow song came on and he actually reached an arm around me, somehow avoiding the hula hoop.  “You’re really tiny,” he said, and I tried not to beam with pleasure.  He said something about the hula hoop being between us, but I didn’t hear it.  I was trying to keep my composure.

The song ended and he asked, “Not going to tell me who you are?”

I shook my head and he shrugged as he went back to join his friends—our friends.

That night I won most original costume, and I was pleased with that.  Then the end of the evening came and the award for most mysterious was still up for grabs.  I was called to the stage along with three others.  When the youth pastor came to me and handed me first prize, I was thrilled.  I’d pulled it off.  Then it happened.  A deep voice called out from the crowd.

“Hey Swanson?  Is that you?”

My head snapped up and my eyes darted to my left, locking with my earlier dance partner.  I’d been found out.  I got to keep my prize nonetheless, plus it was the end of the night, so I was fine.  I left the stage and headed toward my friend.

“How did you know?” I asked.

“Your eyes.  There was something familiar about your eyes when we were dancing.  It was while you were up on stage that I realized I was used to seeing them behind glasses.”

When my dad came to get me, he asked me how it went.  I told him it was one of the best parties I’d been to, but that it was also one of the loneliest evenings I’d ever spent while in a huge group.  My refusal to speak for fear of giving myself away proved to alienate me from my friends.  No matter.  It’s all about being mysterious.  It’s all about the masquerade!

What’s your favorite autumn activity?  Bobbing for apples?  Trick or Treating?  Hayrides?  Regardless, I hope you have fond memories of the activities and the people who were with you.

Until next time, I hope you have a little mystery in your autumn days, and plenty of blessings to warm you at night.

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18 responses to “Amazing Maize and Other Halloween Traditions by Valerie J. Patterson

  1. Very cute story. My wife and I only went to two parties in our marriage. My wife shocked me by accepting a neighbor’s invitation to a Halloween costume party. I went as a cowboy. I was very surprised again as my very proper wife rented a French Dancing Girl costume. I actually got jealous of all the attention she got.

    Loved your story. So much fun.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Hi! I enjoyed your Halloween story. Thanks for sharing it. I’ll bet your wife had a lot of fun that evening because she stepped out of her comfort zone and donned another persona. Hope there are more costume parties in your future! Thank you for reading and commenting. 😛

  2. Hi, Valerie. I love your costume party story. Perfect! I did the mystery thing one year, too, as an adult, at a party my brother was hosting. He started flirting with me! I had so much fun pulling my mask off to show him who I was. 🙂
    And corn mazes are all the rage around here. For a few years, we met the kids and grand kids at a local maze and had a competition to see who could get through first. Loads of fun! Although I don’t think we have a maze as big as yours. Wow!
    Happy early Halloween!

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Oh dear me! He was flirting with you? Have you finally let him off the hook for that? lol

      So glad you have maize mazes out there, and that your family has enjoyed them in the past. What a fun way to spend time as a family unit. Thanks, Laurie! 😛

      • He’s my brother. If I let him off the hook, the power shifts to him. So I’ve kept it there, in the background, ready to hint or mention it as needed. Lol. The really great thing is, he’s so darn wonderful, I’ve never had to pull that trick out of the bag.

      • Valerie J. Patterson

        You’re absolutely correct, Laurie…you can’t allow for a power shift! 😛 The sibling dynamic must never be tampered with especially if you are the sibling with the upper hand! 😛 Plus it’s good to hear he’s a great brother. Better not to torment him unless he needs it!!

  3. Love, love, love the party story. How cool was it that you were able to trick them all. That, to me, is what Halloween is about!

    I love the maize story, too. I actually wrote a short story published by an on-line children’s magazine. It was called “The Mystery of the Maize Maze” I think corn mazes are way too much fun!

  4. What an great post and simply love your masquerade escapade. What fun! Years ago, when I was a youngster, it seemed everyone had Halloween parties, at least where I lived in London, and there was no trick or treating – that’s a fairly recent thing here and whilst the kids enjoy it, many adults especially the elderly, don’t. Here, Halloween falls too close to Bonfire Night which the Brits love to celebrate.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Thanks Kit! I never knew Halloween was celebrated across the pond. Trick or treating was always a lot of fun, plus you ended the night with a bag full of loot! My favorite place was going to the congressman’s house down the street from my house. He always gave out candied apples and dollars. First place the kids went every year! 😛 I think I would like bonfire night, too!

  5. Wow, what a great story. I have never liked the trick or treat part of Halloween. We let the kids go and dressed them up but only when they were little. But I love all the other trappings of the season. It seems a ‘rich’ part of the year with the warm fires, cold nights bon fire weather, and vivid colors. A last bold statement of nature.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Love bonfires, Lavada! Just a group of people sitting around a fire talking, laughing, maybe singing. Excellent way to spend an autumn evening! 😛

  6. Great masquerade story, Valerie! Congratulations on the win!

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Thanks, PJHarjo! It was one of those evenings where the prize made the loneliness worth it. I appreciate you reading and commenting. Happy Halloween to you! 😛

  7. I love your masquerade story, Valerie, and would love to see a photo of you in your outfit! As Kit mentioned, here in the UK really celebrating Halloween is a fairly recent activity, but years ago and long before it really took off in the way it has lately, a group of us were invited to a Halloween party and we had to dress appropriately. Us girls dressed as witches and blacked out some of our teeth while the boys dressed as vampires complete with fangs. In the car on the way to the party we stopped at traffic lights and gave an old lady a real fright when we turned and smiled at her 🙂 Thankfully, it didn’t take long for her to work it out and she smiled back and gave us the thumbs up.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      That’s a great story, Tricia! I can imagine her facial expression when she turned and got an eyeful of you all! 😛 Shock value to the highest power!! I have not been to a masquerade party in a while. Miss it, but only at this time of year. 😛

  8. Pingback: Happy Halloween! | Over The Backyard Fence

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