Please give Stephen Zimmer a warm welcome who is guest posting today at BLH. Thank you Stephan for stopping by today!
Halloween: A Time to Be by Stephen Zimmer
Halloween is almost here again, and as I sat down to write a few thoughts about this fantastic holiday, I found myself recalling my first experiences with the day as a kid growing up in central Kentucky.
Today, it is rather easy to understand my affinity for the holiday. As I am a speculative fiction author, you can probably guess that my mindset is already well-suited to all of the things surrounding Halloween. Yet at that time, I was still in my formative period, and I have no doubts that Halloween provided some considerable inspiration regarding the road that I was eventually going to take.
Theme-wise, virtually everything is appropriate during Halloween in a way truly unique from any other holiday. From science fiction, to horror, to fantasy, to steampunk, and everything in between, you can explore any genre you would like, and nobody will think ill of you if you choose to do something entirely different the following year. You are encouraged to be creative, and use your imagination. In some ways, it is perhaps the only holiday that invites you to reinvent yourself on a yearly basis!
During my childhood, Halloween was always a time to embrace the things I loved the most. Whether it was dressing up as Ace Frehley, the original lead guitarist and a founding member of Kiss, or assuming the guise of a werewolf, I got to indulge in all the things of my imagination and interests.
I always looked forward to the moments when the shadows began to lengthen under the trees, as the late afternoon moved towards evening. After putting on my chosen costume for the year, which involved some advance collaboration and coordinating with my mother, as she made many of the costumes for me and my sister from scratch, my sister and I would wait until our group of friends and their parents assembled for the big onslaught in the neighborhood. You knew things were getting close, because you could see other similar groups forming up near houses on the block whenever you peeked outside.
A few of those groups wasted little time in getting underway, and the eagerness would only mount as the first costumed celebrants of Halloween began to ring our doorbell. Of course, my folks were always generous in that regard, both in the types of candy they carried as well as the amount they gave out to each trick-or-treater, so our house was never in danger of being pranked!
I knew the big plastic pumpkin I carried along with me would be full within a few hours, and there was always an exciting sense of anticipation towards the evening and the goodies that would be forthcoming. After what seemed like forever, we would move out en masse, a large, ravenous pack of costumed kids shadowed closely by a small number of supervising adults.
I can still remember the brisk feel of the air and the sound of leaves swishing as we trudged through front yards to houses that left their lights on like welcoming beacons. A few of the houses, even in my childhood, had gotten underway on things such as decorations and audio enhancements, whether mock graveyards or something else of a spooky nature. These houses always tended to cause me and my group of childhood friends to band together a little closer as we braved the presence of the costumed host with their bounty of candy.
While a main component of the nights activities, a foray through the neighborhood was not the entirety of my Halloweens. We always followed up the trick or treating with apple cider, glazed doughnuts, and watching scary movies on television back at our house.
Of course, the films tended to be pre-approved ones by my folks. This meant they didn't have the kind of spicy scenes like the one with the werewolves by the fireside in the first Howling movie that I snuck around to see behind my folks' backs (that is a story in itself!). Nevertheless, there were plenty of vampires and werewolves and ghosts to go around in the movies we were allowed to see, and all of it enhanced our enjoyment of the night.
I would receive the big plastic pumpkin I mentioned earlier back at the very end of the evening. Of course, during the movie, cider, and doughnut-fest with my friends, my folks did their part to screen the candy I had received. Anything that could be easily unwrapped was discarded, but things of that nature were always a very small fraction of the loot each of the neighborhood kids had gained.
My sister and I always came out pretty well on our stash of candy, and it always took a few weeks to go through everything. Occasionally there was a little trading with my friends, when it came to the things that were our favorites. Even then, I was careful not to eat my favorite candy right away, and pace myself a bit to make the supply last as long as possible.
Above all though, it was a night of camaraderie, from the houses giving candy out, to the parents joining together in the supervising, to the young boys and girls dressing up and participating. It was a night when everyone in the neighborhood came together in a spirit of friendship and simply having fun, and I think it is those underlying qualities that I see more clearly when I look back on those magical nights of my childhood. To this day I absolutely love Halloween, though I find myself giving out candy more often these days rather than receiving it. I love seeing the parade of ghosts, superheros, winged faeries, and other guises that the children in the neighborhood assume when going out trick-or-treating.
Perhaps one day I might have the honor of seeing a boy or a girl out trick or treating in a costume based on a character from one of my stories. If that happens, I know things will have gone full circle, since Halloween undoubtedly had a positive influence on the roots of my own imagination. I imagine a triple helping of candy would be in order for that particular child!
So have fun this Halloween, whether you are an adult or a child. Hearken to the call of your imagination, as those costumes and masks are not hiding anything. In reality, when you really think about it, they are truly enabling you to be yourself!
Visit Stephen online at: Website: www.stephenzimmer.com Twitter: @sgzimmer Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/AuthorFilmmaker-Stephen-Zimmer/221620254562078?fref=ts
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