October 31, 2014 by Judith Liebaert
It’s Halloween, or Samhain, a favorite celebration for me, combining two obsessions—my attraction to the macabre and my desire to play dress up . . . preferably in over the top, glittery, feathered finery. I think there is a distinct possibility I was a drag queen in a former life.
I have happy memories of childhood Halloweens. I actually met my second husband for the first time on Halloween, though neither of us knew then what fate had in store for us half a lifetime down the road. I can’t pinpoint the exact year it happened—we were children in costumes, neither knowing who the other was, but it’s very likely this is the 50th anniversary of that fleeting but memorable chance encounter. Our paths would not cross again for nearly 35 years—but that’s a story for another time.
There are two kinds of people when it comes to Halloween—those who wear costumes, and those who don’t. I am a costumer, even when propriety means going as subtle as pinning a small, enameled jack-o-lantern to my collar. More often, I spend weeks planning my costume, making sure I have every necessary component and even putting it all on for a dress rehearsal. I’m just not feeling the fun this year.
I started out as I usually do. In fact, a long black sheath dress, red feather boa and gold lame gloves have been hanging outside my closet door for two weeks now. A pair of silver and gold sequined, platform heels rest on the floor at the hemline of the dress. It’s an awesome ensemble perfect for the costume party at our neighborhood piano bar. False lashes wait in my vanity drawer, with sparkly jewelry nestled in a dish atop.
Now here it is, the morning of the day, and I’m still not feeling the fun. I really don’t even want to hand out candy at the door this evening. If there is such a thing as a Halloween scrooge I am her. Perhaps I will be visited by three spirits tonight, which would certainly seem more fitting to this holiday than to a Dickensian Christmas.
Spectral visits or not, I’m starting to feel that my lack of enthusiasm for spooky revelry is signaling change—as in change of life, or so our mothers called it.
Seriously? I’ve already lost too much to this grim reaper of youth—my, once, naturally slender body, my glowing, sans make-up skin, my stamina, my dare-devil courage, and my full head of curly hair.
Okay, the curls were chemically induced with perms, but now the perms won’t even take. In its natural, post-meno state my hair is coarse and hangs in very limp, almost—but not quite wavy—locks. If I straighten them with a flat iron they wiggle back into their natural frizz at the first hint of humidity. When I painstakingly curl, wrapping each section around a hot iron and then twisting it around a Velcro roller to cool and set the curl, it still ends up a flaccid and frizzy mess before I can get out the door.
It’s bad enough that the family centered holidays have changed forever. With half our children moving further away from home, blended families having too many visits to make, and the aversion to family dysfunctions that used to be the life of the party, the hubs and I have reconciled to making new traditions.
This is my only all-fun-all-the-time holiday. I don’t have to clean the house for three days, cook for two and then clean again after. I don’t have to shop for weeks ahead of time, buying meaningless gifts to add to other peoples’ stuff. I don’t have to try to coordinate a date that works for everybody—somehow never on the actual holiday for us because I’m the mom that doesn’t lay a guilt trip on her kids.
As the Great Pumpkin is my witness, I will not let menopausal malaise steel Halloween from me! I will get dressed up tonight, I will go out and I will dance—
Oh yes, there will be dancing.