Creative corner

    Natasha Gural's picture

    Reclaiming a Feast of Family, Individualism and Creative Expression (And Finding Calm)

    October is a stressful month for both my husband Mike and me, as each of us is haunted by profound tragedies that occurred in our lives before we met. It doesn’t get easier with each passing year, and as October creeps into our lives so do our separate legacies of loss. As parents of a 4 ½ -year-old highly creative, imaginative superhero-obsessed son, we have come to indulge more and more each year in the festivities surrounding Halloween.

    A magical thing happened this morning. Mike returned home from the gym this morning rather than rushing directly to the office and we met me outside of Michael Alexander’s elementary school. As we waited for the costumed kids and teachers to parade around the storied 109-year-old building, we breathed in the chilly fall air, kissed many times, smiled and gazed into each others’ eyes and enjoyed a rare few moments of life in Manhattan’s coveted West Village. A few stolen moments that generated the same sensation as landing in a tropical paradise for a much-needed escape from the daily drudgery.

    I was raised Russian Orthodox, my mother and her parents celebrating a dozen “major” holy days and dozens more secondary holy days to commemorate various events in the lives of prophets, apostles, martyrs, saints and others, all by the Julian calendar. Thankfully, I was not begrudged the feast days of the Gregorian calendar as they pertained to secular life (the Christmas tree going up for Dec. 25 even though the immovable feast took place on Jan. 7 by the Julian calendar). Halloween always was a favorite, as it didn’t involve standing for hours in church, fasting for weeks or being expected to act with reverence and restraint.

    My mother indulged my Halloween costume requests, making those that couldn’t be store bought and allowed me to participate in every trapping of suburban life in liberal Western Massachusetts in the 1970s and ‘80s, including bobbing for apples (today’ parents are more afraid of spit-swapping in a communal bowl than they are of a nuclear apocalypse) and collecting candy from strangers while carelessly frolicking in the streets.

    For me, Halloween is the opposite of the horror that is built around Christmas, the high feast of capitalism, with all its frenzied shopping and focus on gift exchange. Halloween encourages individual creative expression, allowing children to role play and publicly engage their alter egos and fantasies. Sure, the vast majority of Michael Alexander’s classmates are dressed as generic Frozen princesses and Marvel superheroes, but even from within that mass blur of pop culture there are little details that scream out to reveal each child’s unique identity. Michael Alexander, who already chose Captain America and Thor in 2012 and 2013, this year asked to be Red Hulk. There is no store-bought costume for General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross, but I did find a mask on eBay that arrived quickly from a seller in Hong Kong, and Michael Alexander approved of the rest, even helping to rip Hulk’s pants.

    I blissed out watching Michael Alexander and his classmates march with pride, while for a few precious moments they were not being silenced or told to behave. From their collective roar emerged a calm that blanketed Mike and me as we walked away hand-in-hand, not running frantically to the office and an appointment as if being a minute late would destroy all our hard work and reputation.

    From our interpretation and appreciation of the modern incarnation of an ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of the dead has come new life. October is ending, on the most delightful of days.

     

    Comments

    Sweet and lovely.  Thank you for sharing this.  Not having children, I can only imagine the joy this day has brought to you, but reading this brought up a few of my own memories of marching around in my Halloween costume at school.  Happy Halloween.  


    Thank you, MrSmth1! Happy Halloween and Everyday to you!

     


    Mommy dressed my grandkid as a pumpkin, last year at the age of 16 months.

    That picture will haunt her fifteen years from now, ha.

    I await a picture of this years celebration soon!


    Ha! Was it a locally sourced, organic pumpkin? Thanks for reading, Richard. All the best!


    How lovely, Natasha.  Thank you so much for sharing your day with us. 

    I love this:

    For me, Halloween is the opposite of the horror that is built around Christmas, the high feast of capitalism, with all its frenzied shopping and focus on gift exchange. Halloween encourages individual creative expression, allowing children to role play and publicly engage their alter egos and fantasies.

    I will never think about Halloween the same way again.  smiley


    Thank you, Ramona! Your feedback is pure pleasure!


    Again I have to say truly that I am against capitalistic punishment.

    It is just plain wrong.


    Enjoyed your story. Your son is a cutie.  I see him on face book. Halloween is my favorite.  We used to put our tree up Christmas eve as a kid and take it down Jan. 6th. 

    Sparky the box troll

    DSCN1634

    A little lady fox

    DSCN1635

    I forget what comicon character this is. It is a warrior of some kind

    DSCN1636

    Love the costumes, trkingmomoe! Your kids are adorable! Thanks for sharing.


    Thanks,  I enjoyed the beach vacation pictures. 


    Cute!  So happy to see your three darlings here.  Did you make their costumes?


    My oldest grandson and his wife are the ones who did most of the costuming. They are into Comi Con and I taught my grand daughter in law how to sew.  She makes Comi Con stuff to sell on Etsy.  I helped with the Sparky danger sticker.  The kids also got to see the Box Troll movie for Halloween.  The big kids came home with a copy from someone at college.  

    They had a good time.   


    I don't see Christmas as a high feast of capitalism. I see it as a time of cheer, charity, and forgiveness.


    Aaron, Aaron, where have you been?!!  Mr.  Capra is ready to shoot your scene in five.

     

           Don't worry.  Tell Mr. Capra I stayed completely in character.


    In this production, Mr. Aaron Carine appears in the role of "Zuzu's Petals".


     Oh, nuts; is Roger a scrooge too?


    A nice deconstruction from the micro end of the ongoing process by which   (you could look it up!) Halloween is actually becoming the more important holiday (hey Bill O'Reilly, how ya like me  now?)


    Excellent piece.

    A magical thing happened this morning. Mike returned home from the gym this morning rather than rushing directly to the office and we met me outside of Michael Alexander’s elementary school.

    Dagblog definitely needs more Mikes and Michaels. cheeky


    Thanks much, Verified Atheist!


    You're not concerned about Mike fatigue?


    We're well beyond fatigue and into humor.

    No, it makes life easier. As I tell people who forget my name, "If you forget some guy's name just call them Michael. You'll be right most of the time."

    signed,   Michael Oceankat


    Latest Comments