Tag Archives: Masquerade

Happy Halloween!

Halloween creeps me out, literally. It’s not my favorite holiday. I can’t find anything but horror on television and ghouls abound. Heck, orange isn’t even one of my favorite colors.

But Valerie’s blog earlier this month (here) helped me to remember that I have a lot of good memories from Halloween. As a kid, we trick-or-treated in our local neighborhood. No parents, just us kids going door to door. We felt safe, cocooned by the friendly faces of families we’d grown up with.

As a teenager, dressing up for Halloween was uncool for a few years, but then as an adult, it became en vogue again and everyone threw masquerade parties. I mentioned in a comment on Valerie’s blog that I went in a full mask costume to my brother’s party. I drank through a straw and didn’t speak and it drove him nuts. He even flirted with me…multiple times. (There might have been alcohol involved.) I did finally let him off the hook and he was, well, darn near horrified. Made my whole night. 🙂 I love my brother, but he is my brother, after all. The jokes at each other’s expense tend to go back and forth on a regular basis.

Hween1991Here’s a picture of hubby and I at a costume party back in 1991. The hilarious thing here is that, with no mask or face makeup, no one recognized my white-haired husband.

As a parent of young children, I dutifully decorated the house each year in cobwebs and spiders (ugh!) and pumpkins.  I remember one year, while trick or treating, we came to a house with a long walkway, lined with carved and candled pumpkins. Both my girls were afraid to go up to the house by themselves. I told them they could pass on it if they wanted, but the draw of more candy for their already overloaded bags helped them overcome their fear. So they walked slowly, hand in hand. Made it to the door and turned back to me with a big smile on their faces. A smile that caved when the dentist who lived there gave them each tooth brushes instead of candy. To this day, their disappointment is a memory that makes me chuckle. But I also feel pride in that they walked the walk, you know?

Now, retired with grandchildren, we don’t do much for Halloween. Our neighborhood has not had many children in it for years, so we haven’t given out more than a couple pieces of candy. In the past year, though, we’ve had 3 or 4 new families move in. So the pumpkins are on the porch. The lights will be on and the bowl full and ready to hand out. We’re hoping for a fun evening this year, with lots of ghouls and ghosts and goblins. As I said in the beginning, I don’t like creepy. I guess, when it comes in small, costume-wrapped packages, it just doesn’t feel so creepy anymore. 🙂

Happy Halloween everyone! And, for your treat, check out these pumpkins:

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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.