Celebrating autumn and Halloween with the Experience Engaged Community

This week’s Applause takes a different turn as we continue to enjoy Fall and all its magic. In anticipation of Halloween, our team thought it would be fun to celebrate by sharing special traditions, fond memories, new holiday journeys, etc. in the Experience Engaged community.

I personally had “goblins” of fun with a trip down memory lane to this favorite childhood experience.  Growing up with a forensic pathologist for a father whose precision cutting skills were second to none, our annual pumpkin carving around the kitchen table rivaled an Olympic event. My Dad, Dr. Ben, was a master craftsman with every pumpkin carved.  He also brought home a human skeleton every year, affectionately known as Mr. Bones, for our neighborhood Haunted House.  I recall him then taking my sister and me trick or treating in what usually was the first Colorado snowstorm of the year, coming home to a cozy fire, My Mom’s “Witch’ s Stew” and English muffin pizzas made to look like pumpkins.  Truly magical!

And what about you?

A Snowy Halloween

I don’t have a TRADITION to report (thank heavens!) but an event:  one late fall in Duluth, MN when everyone had their Halloween decorations up, we had 36 inches of snow!  And when it snows in northern Minnesota it doesn’t go away soon — or until spring.  And that spring as the snow melted there were hundreds of sick-looking pumpkins in various stages of decay decorating front porches all over town.

-Carol Tierney, Former Experience Engaged Fellow

The Halloween Tree

Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday! It’s been awesome watching our young kids get as excited as I am about the most terrifying time of year. Last year when we couldn’t celebrate with our friends and neighbors, we started a new tradition, the Halloween Tree. Who says Christmas gets all the arboreal fun? We find a giant branch in the woods and ‘plant’ it in a big sturdy vase. Then we decorated with hand-made ghosts and lights and leaves and other spooky surprises. It was the highlight of our Halloween, and this year’s Halloween tree is just getting started! 

We liked the idea so much we have started other holiday trees too – like Valentines and Easter!

-Austin George, Director of Programs and Operations

Fun with Fall Chores

A tradition (not specifically Halloween but close to the day) that I started since having grandchildren 21 years ago started years ago when I was growing up on the east coast. One of my fondest memories growing up during the fall was raking leaves into piles and, with a running start, jumping into them.

When our first grandson was born 21 years ago, I thought it would be a great tradition to pass onto him and any other grandchildren we might have. Of course, I couldn’t start until he was a little older but when he turned three, I decided the time was right. So, I spent a few hours once the leaves started falling raking them into big black plastic bags. (This, in itself, led to a funny story since we live in an HOA community that has landscaping as one of the perks, so the crews would come around a couple times each fall and pick up the leaves. This led to more than one resident wondering why I was raking leaves!).

So that first leaf raking and jumping, which started in 2003 when he was three, has continued uninterrupted up to today. The number of grandchildren has grown to six, so I have to make sure the piles are bigger. With our oldest grandson and his sister away at school, there are only four leaf jumpers, but the piles still remain big and the laughs still remain loud and the memories continue to grow.

I guess when all the kids are away or too big to jump in grandpas/pop-pops leaf piles I will have to jump in by myself 

-John Dietrich, Experience Engaged Health Navigation Fellow

The Costumes in the Attic

Deciding how to dress up for trick or treating was determined by the contents of our attic the day before Halloween. My siblings and I didn’t know what we’d be weeks prior and store-bought costumes were never a consideration. Also, our costume decisions were entirely on us. There was zero parental involvement. I am the ninth of ten children, all born within an 11 year span. My mother was a busy woman and wisely chose not to get involved. Every October 30th she’d let us kids happily rummage through the attic. Now, you have to know a little about my parents to understand what our attic was like. They were children of the Depression and did not throw anything out if there was a chance it might be used again. I was raised wearing hand-me-downs. Subsequently, our attic was a treasure trove of clothing and items from all different decades: flapper outfits, hats and shoes from the 1920s that were my grandparents; sequined costumes from my mother’s childhood ballet and tap dance recitals; my father’s army jackets and WWII uniforms; and a huge assortment of 1960s and 70s attire such as bell bottomed pants, mini-skirts, assorted plaid woolens, striped ski pants and winter jackets, pastel leisure suits, polyester shirts and dresses, belts, wigs, scarves, pocketbooks and costume jewelry. The Halloween costumes that I recall putting together include a firefly (1940s dance recital costume with the addition of crinoline for wings and pipe cleaners for antennae), football player (an older brother’s grass-strained, pop warner uniform), hobo (wrinkled suit, floppy hat and stick over my shoulder with a stuffed scarf tied to the end), priest (black graduation gown doctored with a white neck collar and rosary beads around my neck), and different iterations of hippy. My childhood memories of those afternoons are happy ones, filled with the smell of cedar and moth balls. Our attic was like a treasure chest to me. One year I found a five- dollar bill in a vintage clutch! Oddly, the thought of being a ghost, witch, devil, or other ghoulish persona never crossed my mind because my dress up choices were bound by what was in that dimly lit, unfinished attic.

-Sue Adams, Experience Engaged Office Manager

Happy Halloween!!!