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Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Halloween Memories

             Halloween undoubtedly evokes many different memories for different people. Some of you may have special memories from your own childhood or perhaps memories from when your own children celebrated Halloween. Maybe there is a special person or place that you will think of when you think of Halloween. Today I'm going to share some of my memories.

            The most recent memories certainly have to do with my previous job managing a warehouse for a Halloween wholesale distributor that this year closed the regional operation where I was located. Having been there for nearly 20 years, it felt like home to me. When my daughters were young, I would pick them up from school and sometimes bring them to the warehouse. Once they had finished their homework I would let them pull orders. It was like a game to them and they enjoyed it. But it was also training. When they were in high school they all were on the payroll at one time or another and were my most valuable employees. I enjoyed working with my daughters.

           Later, after my daughters moved away, the company started downsizing partly due to heightened efficiency but also due to diminished business at our location. But we were still busy at Halloween. Often leaving the house well before sunrise, I would stop by a 24 hour donut shop for some pastries and a large coffee and go to my office to prepare things for when the employees would arrive. I particularly liked that peaceful time of solitude, having my coffee and donuts and organizing the orders. When I finished the prep work, then I would usually go back into the frigid warehouse and pull several orders to get the packers started when they arrived. Alone in a big empty warehouse for me is a special time for thought and introspection.

            In the last few days before Halloween, work would slow down for the distributers like us. This is when the retail stores kick into high gear. We would have special orders to be shipped by air-- 3 day, 2 day, and then next day. We might have a few local last minute pick ups. But mostly it was time to wind down, reorganize the warehouse, and come to work later and go home at the regular time. When Halloween came it was like a holiday for us. I'd treat my employees to a pizza party and Halloween goodies and let everyone leave early. Then I would leave early so I could get ready for the trick-or-treaters.

         One memorable Halloween was in 1979. My wife, two year old son and I were touring with a stage production at the time. On tour with us was one of my good friends, his wife and their daughter who was about to turn three. We were not performing that night -- Halloween was typically not a good night for the show--and travelling a goodly distance that day from someplace in Texas to Lafayette, LA. As it started to get dark we decided to pull into the next town we came to along I-10 and take the kids trick-or-treating. The town was a quaint place called Jennings, LA. We stopped in the parking lot of a small shopping center and dressed the kids in makeshift costumes. We then drove to a fine neighborhood of older stately homes. We took our children door to door to give them their first experience with trick-or-treat. I don't think they really understood what was going on, but it didn't take long for them to get caught up in the spirit of the event. After we had completed our round of the street where we had stopped, we got back into the van and continued on to Lafayette to our motel. I'm sure that neither of our kids remember that night, but for me it was kind of special to drop into a place where I had never been before and feel like we were part of the community just as though we were back home.

          And home is what I really think of when I think of Halloween now. Aside from the years when I was on the road at Halloween, most Halloween nights I have been at home. In the parts of the U.S. where the air has started turning cooler and night comes sooner, Halloween has a special feel that means another year is drawing closer to an end. The autumn palette of changing leaves, big orange pumpkins ready for carving, and the smell of wood fires and leaves burning evokes a certain sadness that will soon be replaced by the warmth and excitement of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Halloween, like all of the holidays, has lost much of the old fashioned simplicity and has become industrial, has become big business. It may be good for the economic climate so far as business goes, but not so much for the economy of the heart and soul. Sometimes it seems as we become more wealthy in what we own, we become poorer in who we are.

       Make the best of what you have. And have a good time. What are you going to do this Halloween?
What are you going to be?

        Be watching for my Saturday blog post, The Road Ahead, for some special announcements about some of the things that will be coming in the month ahead in TOSSING IT OUT.

7 comments:

  1. >>[Sometimes it seems as we become more wealthy in what we own, we become poorer in who we are.]<<

    Hear!-Hear!
    Very nicely stated, rLEE-b. It's sad but seems to be true.

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" Stephen

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  2. I really feel that I missed out on the spirit of Halloween. I only dressed up for a handful of Halloweens and most of those times have been as an adult. I know that religion (and each religion differently, of course) has its thoughts on Halloween, but I wish that I had been more involved as a child. I feel that other people talk about their Halloween memories, and I really don't have much to say about the holiday all together.

    In grad school, one of my professors has a yearly party where we all got dressed up. That is probably the most fun that I have had for the holiday, but I can't go this year because I don't live in the area anymore :(

    Finally, I do want to say that you sound like you were a great boss. Have you ever thought about starting your own business? I am sure there is nothing like working for yourself and being the boss that you want to be.

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  3. Diana,

    You still have plenty of time for Halloween memories. And if you really think about it I'm sure that you may have more than you think you have now.

    There are also cultural issues. Halloween for your family as you were growing up may not have had the same kind of significance that other families might have placed upon it. As the years go by you will continue to discover more memories that you don't even think of as memories right now and those memories can be as happy as you choose to make them. Seems like the older you get, often the better your memories get-- if you can remember them.

    I'm surprised that the Blaffer Gallery doesn't do a Halloween extravaganza as a fundraiser. What an occasion for artistic expression and celebration.

    I often think about starting my own business. Right now writing is my business, I just need to find a way to make a good living at it.

    Lee

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  4. Very interesting response, Lee. I am actually going to a screening of "Rocky Horror" on Saturday this year at UH. I have never been, so it should be interesting. Ada told me that she has gone with you before and that she had a lot of fun. Needless to say, I am looking forward to it.

    I know that you did some research on Halloween, but what are some of the world-wide cultural traditions on this holiday? Is it celebrated all over the world? I remember being in Ecuador for St. Patrick's day one year and no one cared; I was the only one wearing green. What do you think?

    Finally, I think the best thing you can do for yourself in the business of writing is to do it everyday and not be afraid to shoot big. Put together a manuscript of a book and make contact with the big publishing companies. The worst that can happen is that they will say no, and give you a lot of feedback that you can use to make your work better and try again.

    One of my mentors was really broke in the summers because we don't usually get paid for summers, and he started his own publishing company for highschool debate students. I know he started it decades ago and itis still going on.

    Anyway, I thought I would just toss out some ideas out there and see what you thought...

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  5. Well, I always like it when people toss it back to me -- after all that's one of my goals in this blog.

    Halloween has not really been much of a tradition in most of the world, but it's beginning to catch on. After all, the U.S. often sets cultural standards and trends worldwide. Halloween makes a lot of money and the rest of the world recognizes this and wants to reap the benefits. Halloween as we celebrate it is not a religious holiday so it becomes acceptable to almost any culture.

    In the costume business we were starting to ship to Mexico, Japan, and even Ecuador among many other countries where enterprising business people are trying to make money with Halloween. I can almost guarentee you that if you were to go to Ecuador on Halloween you would see at least some level of participation. Halloween is more universally inclusive than a primarily Irish-related celebration such as St. Patrick's Day.

    I'm starting my first novel on November 1 for NaNo (National Novel Writing Month). I have mentioned this in some of my earlier posts and will be posting regular updates on my progress. And I've got several other ideas as well. I'm working on it!

    Thanks for tossing it out.

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  6. Arlee,
    Nice post! I wanted to follow up on our previous conversation. I did in fact pose your question to my study group and received the following advice to pass on to you. Firstly, it seems that your previous comments re:Coping are believed to be accurate and it seems you may have a call to ministry. Some good reading that you might suggest for "any" of your readers is : "Evidence That Demands A Verdict" by Josh McDowell, who had apparently originally set out to disprove Christianity and a new book by Randy Alcorn "If God Is Good". I hope this information proves useful. God Bless!

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  7. Dear Always a Mom,

    Thank you for the input and the fine recommendations. I will definately look into these resources. Right now I hope that my blog ministers to some even though I don't precisely set out to do this. I hope that a good message comes out in whatever I write.
    Please, if you ever see anything in any of my posts that you or others feel that I am incorrect about or misguided in any way, please let me know.
    Thanks
    Lee

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