It’s Halloween? Not In This House It Ain’t

Halloween meant one thing and one thing only — getting the Christmas decorations down from the attic and prepping for Thanksgiving plans

As a child, I had a lot of things working against me when it came to Halloween. I can’t speak for other families, but as for mine, there wasn’t a chance in hell (see what I did there) that I was ever going to step foot on a strange doorstep to ask for some candy.

I didn’t even read my first Harry Potter book until I went to college.

I know. Gasp.

When you grow up in the South, for the most part, anything that had to do with the supernatural was witchcraft or demonic. It wasn’t until I started making some of my own life decisions that I felt comfortable venturing out into the unknown and even then, I was nervous. I asked myself a lot of questions as I garnered more experience and knowledge.

Were my parents right? Should I stay away from anything that couldn’t be found in the Bible? Should I finish everything off with an “in Jesus’ name” and live in a sheltered bubble from the forces of darkness?

I was raised in a Black Christian household. That meant that the only ghost getting airtime in my house was the Holy one. Trick or treating just wasn’t a part of the culture that I grew up in. I didn’t go costume shopping. I wasn’t allowed to watch horror films. I definitely didn’t share the same excitement that everyone else around me did. God forbid I even show any interest in the paranormal. We barely spoke of Halloween as if saying it’s name would invoke some otherworldly presence in the house that my mom would need the oil for.

Halloween felt more like a transitional holiday to me. October 31st meant one thing and one thing only — getting the Christmas decorations down from the attic, prepping for Thanksgiving plans with my family, and that the Iron Bowl was a few short weeks away.

It wasn’t all bad though. My evenings were just…different. I spent a lot of my time at churches and let me tell you, when you’re a child and churches are trying to keep you from becoming a future minister of evil, they really hook you up. Between filling up my bag of candy until it ran over and stuffing me with food, I didn’t really feel all too bad for missing out on going neighbor to neighbor begging for candy. I was racking up.

In hindsight, I guess I can’t really blame my parents. When it comes to Halloween at it’s core, it’s a celebration of the supernatural that they didn’t and frankly, we don’t fully understand. With the spiritual being so taboo, especially in the Southern Black community, I don’t know if they were trying to protect me or keep me from asking questions that they didn’t have the answers to.

On the other hand, it’s a time of pumpkin carving, feasting on that blessed candy corn, and community. It truly wasn’t all bad and I missed out on that aspect of it.

What all of this cultivated for me though was a love for all things spooky. Well, maybe not love, but definitely a strong curiosity. You can only hide things away from someone until, a child in this case, goes looking for it. While I wasn’t celebrating Halloween, I was most certainly sneaking around to figure out what all of the fuss was about.

If anybody stopped to ask about cryptids (that’s entities like Bigfoot for you fancy folks), or paranormal activity (not the movie), I could have probably told them each criteria of the phenomena around them, the do’s and do not’s, and where you can find them. Yes, I’m the guy who says things in unison with the ghost tour guide on your vacation.

I loved the documentaries. I relentlessly Googled local and regional lore and legends to the point where I arguably knew more than I probably should have. I still do this and I’m still what most people would consider a young, Christian man. My knowledge didn’t turn me into some dark creature, preying on blood and souls and using Ouija boards so my crush would like me. If anything, it gave me a healthy respect for things I don’t totally get and how to stay out if its way.

I’ve always carried the mentality that we only fear what we don’t know. The paranormal and supernatural are things we don’t know. Halloween is one of those things that gets lumped in there too so the response in my house was to avoid it altogether and I think that was a missed opportunity to educate my siblings and I on why.

But I’m not mad at them. Unbridled curiosity can lead to some dark and winding roads especially in this realm. There has to be a line. Too much of anything is a bad thing and this is no different. They wanted to keep me from going down a rabbit hole that neither they or I could get me out of. My mom explicitly told me this as I became a man.

So I get why we opted for church and why Thanksgiving and Christmas trumped Halloween. It was about creating a safe space to be in that had all of the amenities and none of the fervor and attention to the paranormal that my parents feared I would gravitate towards.

And while I did, I came to see that there are forces out there that are beyond our comprehension. Not all of them are good, but that doesn’t mean we can’t extract the good things that Halloween brings and separate ourselves from the rest.

For me, as I stopped going to churches and started attending more costume parties and outings, I realized that Halloween is also about fellowship. It’s another chance to spend time with people and get excited about the upcoming holidays and camaraderie for the next few months.

That’s the key.

My goal is to always keep that in mind so that when my children come of age and when it’s Halloween, in my house, it can be too.

A writer and singer-songwriter centered around perspective and diversity. Words found on Medium’s Level. Follow me @JoshuaDairen on Twitter and Instagram.

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