I love everything about Halloween. I love the history of Samhain (being pagan-adjacent as I am), I love marking the passing of the seasons, I love the aesthetic (being goth-adjacent as I am), I love the music, the scary tales, I love the costumes and I love Trick-or-Treating – one of the last vestiges of collective neighbourly behaviour. I love that you can enjoy it on so many levels – regardless of your race or religion – and lean into it as much or as little as you’d like to.
We lean in. HARD.
From the first pumpkin spice latte I consume in September to the end of All Souls Day on November 1st, I revel in the creepy, spooky, scary passing of summer into the beginning of winter. October is always full of activities fueled by apple cider and a good dose of the macabre.
Since in Canada Thanksgiving is the second weekend in October, we have been doing short road trips since the pandemic. In 2020 we quarantined and rented a cottage with friends in order to enjoy the last light of summer near a lake. We had lovely bonfires outside, a wood stove inside, and while Mr. Tucker made a Thanksgiving meal, we all played games inside the largest cottage. It was one of those weekends that just comes together perfectly. There were walks in the autumn leaves, I read a book by the lake and the kids just ran around being kids. The pandemic was in full swing at that point and it was good to just pretend that things were normal, even for a few days.
2020 was also the year that we started our 13 Days of Halloween Movies ritual, which we’ve continued until this day. During the month of October we watch 13 Halloween movies – new and old – and the kids give mini reviews which I share on a private Instagram that only has friends I know. My friends have told me that they get a kick out of what the kids say and my hope is that the kids can look back and have a laugh at how they felt about the various movies at the time. We couldn’t Trick-or-Treat in 2020 so instead we bought the kids each a box of candy started new rituals.
In 2021 with vaccines in our arms but still cautious, we ended up buying seasons passes to Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto. We bought them with the friends we traveled to the cottage with the year before because they were good for 1.5 years. That year we went to the Halloween Haunt for a couple of days where we bought the kids Fast Lane passes and set them free to do what they wanted (masked, of course). So again, for a few short hours they could just be kids again. Back at home, we had them over for dinner on the Monday where we ate, drank, and played games again. It was a great weekend.
2021 was also the year we took the kids to a local orchard who does a series of haunted houses and a haunted wagon ride. It was a bit of a hike outside the city and I was unsure if they would enjoy it but they LOVED IT. I was incredibly impressed by the set-up that had everything from the terrifying (jump scares in the houses) to the thematic but unscary (a Ghostbusters-themed car) so really everyone could enjoy it. We still did our 13 Days of Halloween Movies and went to a local pumpkin patch so that we could pick-and-choose our own pumpkins to carve so that was a fun thing we could bring back again. They also did end up Trick-or-Treating last year which gave them back a little bit of normalcy.
Of course now in 2022 we have almost gotten back to normal but we’ve kept all the little rituals: we went to the Halloween Haunt for Thanksgiving weekend, we did another farm with haunted houses and a spooky wagon ride, we went on a Haunted Walk tour with friends downtown, we carved pumpkins, and we finished our last movie from our 13 Days of Halloween movies last night. Sadly, our friends couldn’t make Thanksgiving dinner because they came down with covid but we had a nice meal at home, just us.
Tonight the kids will go Trick-or-Treating as far as their legs will carry them and as long as people’s pumpkins are out. A neighbour always does this amazing haunted house a few streets over so they won’t want to miss that. Then they will crash after their sugar highs and then groggily get up for school tomorrow.
As for me, I stupidly (smartly?) booked a dentist appointment for tomorrow morning. Other than that, All Saints and All Souls Day are always reflective days for me as I wind down from the chaos of the fall season and transition into the winter one. I generally plan a quiet day of writing, reading, and large cups of tea drunk in front of a fire. This is because I am now looking forward to another favourite time of year: Winter Solstice.