Festive holidays like Halloween are meant to be enjoyed
If you are lucky enough to still have neighborhood trick-or-treaters, now is the time to stock up on candy to give away on the 31st. I bought mine three weeks ago.
Decorating for holidays is one of those little touches that makes us part of these special days, and part of the community. And it is one of those cheerful activities that can bring a smile to your face making you feel better.
I personally always decorated, so I just continued. But it's never too late.
I decorate for all the holidays including Halloween. Most of it is inside, but I do have a small collection of black cat stick-figures I simply stick in flower pots on the patio and front porch. And because I'm a cat lover, they definitely cheer me.
Of course Halloween is, for most people, a relatively minor holiday. But for some it has turned into a big party night, especially for young adults; there are lots of costume parties for both couples and singles. But even these minor holidays such as Halloween, whatever our ages, can offer opportunities to be part of the community or be with friends.
At a recent garage sale I got a darling black cat runner from a woman who gave Halloween parties and had lots of items for the season.
Actually we're heading to the big intensive holiday time of the year -- Halloween, then Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year. Lots of cooking and decorating. Lots of memories brought to the surface so we all need to put up our defenses.
On Halloween, my own immediate neighborhood doesn't get kids asking for treats anymore. The traditional trick-or-treat fun running around the neighborhood has pretty much been replaced by children's parties at the mall, or in private homes. The hours are still declared and announced by the village nevertheless, and I still buy little candy bars to give to goblins -- but alas, no goblins at all these last few years. I have taken to setting out a basket on the front porch with a sign, "Happy Halloween, help yourself!"
Last year someone, or some people, came, perhaps teenagers, and helped themselves to all the contents of the basket! But that is OK. Better than all that leftover candy.
What does all this have to do with anything?
Well, the point is: This is usually a difficult time of year where we miss those no longer with us, even after many years apart. There is a danger that the bereaved, even years later, don't feel up to decorating or participating in the many festivities that come with these holidays. But it's important to remember that social isolation -- just "dropping out" -- is the enemy of the bereaved. It's vital to remain involved in ongoing social and community life.
You may not like to go alone to parties or dinners without your spouse, partner, friend or parent, but go. It's not as hard as your think to go alone. Make an effort. And Happy Halloween!
• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a doctorate in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College, and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at email@example.com or see her blog longtermgrief.tumblr.com. See previous columns at www.dailyherald.com/topics/Anderson-Kleif-Susan.