Halloween

KN, p. 281 “Halloween Fun in 2021”

Kelley reads to the neighbors

It’s time to let the skeletons clickety clack and rattle their way through the streets. Ghosts have been waiting for almost two years to flap in the trees and boo the germs out of the goblins. The bats have been practicing their swooshing past my office window at twilight. Everyone is getting ready to have fun in the neighborhood.

 

Last year, our neighbors were new to the rules of the Pandemic. The town had allowed the door-to-door candy fest with great caution advised, but the big parties were canceled in deference to a widely held fear of a super spreader event. There were a few hardy souls that ventured out after dark, but the usual crowds of children yelling “Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet,” and other happy verbal foolery were sadly missing.

 

This year, with more and more people vaccinated, more medical mask wearers out and about, and people automatically social distancing, it promises to be an almost back-to-normal holiday fest in our neck of the woods.

With a few recommended guidelines, that is.

  • Trick-or-treat with small groups of people you know (adults should always be close by their children).
  • Adults are encouraged to stay outdoors to pass out candy (our neighbor sets up a table in the driveway and chats with passersby).
  • Adults should consider placing candy into the trick-or-treater bags rather than have children reaching into a bucket.
  • Wear a medical or two-layered mask while out and about. The costume masks are generally constructed of only one layer.
  • Want to have a party? Set it up outside to reduce the possibility of germs spreading.
  • Practice social distancing whenever possible. 

In 2020, one Missouri county experienced the doubling of Covid cases during the two weeks following Halloween as did other parts of the country, so there is a continuing reason to be cautious in crowds and among strangers.

Above all, stay safe. If that means staying home with the family while wearing a costume, eating homemade Halloween treats, and watching Halloween movies on TV, go for it! Kelley (the articulated skeleton in the photo) and I will be at Halloween Grove reading to the spider, the witches, and the apprentice skeleton, and watching the bats fly by.

Happy Halloween!

 

KN, p. 266 “Haunted Cemeteries”

Are you spooked by cemeteries? Or, do you walk through them to check out your own ancestral history?

 

Cemetery excursions often evoke fond memories of a favorite friend or relative. Some cemeteries are destination outings for those who wish to visit famous people buried within the hallowed grounds.

 

But sometimes, the visits are not about honoring the departed. Most European cathedrals have graveyards outside, but also house the remains of royalty beneath the slate and tile in the sanctuaries. Walking across the stones in certain corners of Canterbury Cathedral can stir a feeling of the presence of evil. The crowds that have worn away the stones over the centuries have not removed the sense of death and sorrow that seems to linger in the darkened alcoves.

 

We read about souls lost in between this earth and another dimension. We tell tales of being scared beyond rational thinking when stuck in a graveyard at night. Reports abound of an unnerving feeling, as if life-forces come out after dark to dance or moan soulfully of their own unfortunate, untimely demise. What if the dead haven’t yet crossed over to another plane and need to reach someone in this world in order to be able to rest in peace? It’s the stuff of novels and movies galore.

We have ghost hunters searching for restless spirits, cemetery researchers looking for the ancestors of a client, and the curious wondering what all the fuss is about. Whatever your belief system, it is possible to take cemetery walks all over the world, some for free, others at stiff prices for the privilege of being frightened in the name of fun.

 

The Oakwood Cemetery Saints and Sinners Tour (oakwoodcemetery.net/ ) The tour through this Fort Worth, Texas, cemetery features a reenactment of famous people buried there, and even has a section just for bartenders. Do the ghosts need a drink after death? Hmmm.

 

Fort Worth Spirit & Paranormal Adventures (dfwparanormalresearch.com/) takes small groups of ghost/spirit hunters through the area, stopping at famously haunted cemeteries. EMF meters and thermal scanners are supplied so that tourists/believers can see glowing tombstones and floating orbs. The Arlington tour promises active ghosts everywhere. Let us know what you see if you go. Pictures welcome. Yup.

 

During the Princeton University Ghost Tour the Ghost Hunter Guides train the attendees in the use of EMF Meters, dowsing rods, and therma-meters to allow for interaction with those that have crossed over. No mention of what kind of interaction that might be, but iPhones and cameras are encouraged. Not sure if it will make you jump and scream, but the tour is rated PG-13 because of its adult-ish content.

 

Because of the 2020 Pandemic, a Cary, North Carolina haunted cemetery tour will be virtual for Halloween. The Friends of Page-Walker, a local volunteer historical group, will explore Hillcrest Cemetery, one of Cary’s most haunted cemeteries, sharing its strange history and spooky stories.

 

Remember Ichabod Crane and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”? Sleepy Hollow, New York is the home of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery , the definition of spooky. There are tours scheduled for day as well as night and must be booked ahead. A Lantern tour at night promises to deliver on the scare factor as stories are shared about some of the inhabitants.

 

Salem, Massachusetts is well known for the Salem witch trials. One of the most famous judges from the trials is interred at The Burying Point cemetery. Spellbound Tours, delivers what they call Salem’s “original and best haunted tour,” and includes the cemetery on the agenda for the evening.

 

Check your town’s website to see what events will be held locally. If the Pandemic has caused cancellations in your area, set the DVR for Halloween movies and wear your costumes anyway. Whatever you decide for your Halloween observance, stay safe and have fun.

 

Kelley reads to the neighbors

 

 

KN, p. 203 “Is there a skeleton in your closet?”

 

Tis the season for skeletons and other Halloween traditions, but did you ever wonder about the origin of the phrase “skeleton in the closet?”

 

The prevailing view implies that someone has skeletons in said closet if the person in question has something nefarious to hide, but historically, there’s a bit more to the story.

 

Kelley waits for the elusive hole-in-one.

 

In England, until the early 1800s, physicians were not allowed to collect and dissect bodies other than those of executed criminals. Even after an Act of Parliament was passed to allow other bodies to be used for research, doctors hid the bodies (presumably in closets or cabinets) from the squeamish eyes of the public. The bodies might still have had a great deal to reveal medically and might have been kept until all that remained was the skeleton.

Sharing a fun story with pals

 

Hiding a skeleton might have cast a bad light (from a legal as well as a squeamish perspective) on the keeper of same, but as time went by, humorous and/or serious references to deeds or activities not related in any way to skeletons, arose.

 

Kelley reads to the neighbors

But skeletons don’t always get a bad rap. They have been included in Halloween celebrations all over the world for thousands of years for the purpose of warding off evil spirits.  

How many skeletons do you have in your closets?

Taking a nap in the closet

 

Stay safe and have a Happy Halloween!

 

 

*Thanks to Toni L.P. Kelner (Leigh Perry) for many hours of fun with her Family Skeleton series. “The Skeleton Haunts a House” is the book appearing in two of the photos.

 

 

*Photos by Patti Phillips

 

 

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