Friday, October 31, 2014

Celebrate! Happy Halloween 2014!

Over the eight years I've been writing this blog, I have frequently written about Joy and celebrations. In the title of my blog, the emphasis is on the word LIVE - to not just get by or survive with this awful illness but to learn how to actually live your life and find joy in each day. I've covered many topics related to joy over the years (as you can see at the link), but one of the ways that my family continues to live our lives and experience joy, even at our worst times, is to celebrate all occasions, big and small.

The Super Family, 1998 (before ME/CFS)
My mom is the one who inspired me in this regard. When I was a little kid, we celebrated everything in a big way, from Valentine's Day to dance recitals to the major holidays. We picked up those traditions when we had our own kids and made lots of traditions of our own. Once the kids and I got sick, I found it was even more important to continue to celebrate, to lift our spirits and break from our routines. Halloween has always been one of our family's favorite holidays.

What could be more joyful than dressing up in a fun costume and going out trick-or-treating with friends? We did it every year, no matter how sick we'd been that fall, even if we had to adapt and make things easier. For instance, many years, I only went along with my husband and the boys to the few houses in our cul-de-sac. When they were younger and not feeling well, my husband sometimes pulled one or both of them in a wagon or even drove from one house to another.

Knight, Robin Hood, Little John & Maid Marion
For us, the preparation and anticipation of Halloween is almost as much fun as the actual event. We always decorate the house a couple of weeks ahead, with spiders and ghosts and skeletons and pumpkins. We have a clock that makes spooky sounds at the top of each hour (it drives my husband crazy but it's fun!) The week before Halloween, we make our annual trip to a local orchard to choose our pumpkin and come home to carve them. There have been years when we didn't have the energy to visit the farm and do the carving on the same day, but we still got to it eventually.

Dressing up in costumes is the best part! We would usually come up with a family theme, as you can see here (typically based around whatever one or both of the kids wanted to do), and work on our costumes for a week or more before the big day. I can't sew at all, so we got creative with old clothes, colored t-shirts or sweatshirts, and plenty of fabric glue and face paint! As recent as last year, our teen son and his friends were still raiding the old dress-up box in our basement for Halloween!

Star Wars Family
Our son are now 16 and 20 and no longer trick-or-treating, but they still celebrate. Our college-aged son is having a party tonight with his friends at their apartment, and he's been working on his Joker costume for weeks - that's our boy! Whenever he has had extra energy between classes, he's been hunting through Goodwill for clothes, learning how to use fabric dye, checking pictures of the Joker online, and working on the costume. I'm so proud.

Back here at home, my husband and I miss the days of dressing up with the kids and trick-or-treating, but we still decorated the house this year and enjoyed carving pumpkins with the whole family last weekend. Tonight, we'll greet the trick-or-treaters at the door and hand out candy, though my days of sneaking tastes are sadly behind me now that I'm struggling with yeast overgrowth. I do have some sugar-free treats for myself, though! We'll watch some spooky TV shows tonight - I always enjoy the Halloween episodes that many shows do this time of year. I've also been reading spooky/creepy books all month to get in the spirit.

Rock Band, 2010
So, wherever you are and whatever your limitations, find a way to celebrate, both today and for all holidays, big and small. Even if you are bedridden, watch some Halloween-themed TV shows or movies or read a spooky book. If your kids are the sick ones, still help them plan a costume and dress up. If they're too sick to manage trick-or-treating, even to a few houses, then set them up at the door on an outdoor lounge chair in their costume to greet the trick-or-treaters who come to the door. Carve some pumpkins and roast the seeds (yum). Find ways to join in the celebration and bring some extra joy into your life.

Happy Halloween!

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