As Halloween approaches, I have been thinking a lot about the importance of ritual. I’m not talking about the rituals of witches (even though that’s pretty much the only context most of us use the word “ritual” nowadays it seems). Although I do have my own spellbook.
The spells I’m casting are ones requiring a collection of items from nature, creating and concocting. This month I have been getting Adam psyched up for the first holiday he’s been really able to get psyched about since Easter: Halloween. We are having a small Halloween party for some of his friends and have been using our daily arts & crafts time together to prepare for it.
Last night I dreamt that we were getting ready for a party and some other guests had just gone to the store and bought jumbo sized bags of everything they needed. That sure would’ve been easier an easier option but exactly what I didn’t want to do. Where’s the tradition? Where’s the ritual?
Instead, we’ve been making decorations by hand, using items that are meaningful: handmade paper, an old pair of his airplane jam-jams (pajamas), and grasses collected from our outdoor walks. We traced his ever-growing footprints to make scary tracks up the steps, glued together ghosts, and learned to count along with a spider . If you don’t think these things are rituals, try carving your next pumpkin with your little one climbing up onto your lap and then tell me what you think. The holidays are a great excuse to experience a closeness that we both have benefitted from.
He helps (usually by sampling) with cooking homemade treats, and he’s even going to be wearing a handmade “Ego” costume (which is how he pronounces the cartoon character Diego for all you not yet fluent in the toddler-ese language.)
Along with these holiday activities, we’ve also been talking about the moon and the sky and how it changes with the seasons. Because skeletons are used as decorations everywhere, we’ve been talking about the bones and muscles that can be found inside his body.
Each year and each holiday we will do a variation of these same things together and these will be the traditions that we will both remember for a lifetime. I am so thankful that this Halloween has already been so full of this great gift called joy. Rituals really do take the “hollow” out of Halloween.