I'm a serious person who was born to parents that shared a philosophy of not taking life too seriously.  My mother often wondered "what had happened" to me to make me so sober and she resolved to surround me with songs, corny jokes, and toys at every holiday. Most of the Halloween decorations I own: wind up Vampires, glowing ghosts, scraggly vultures, and pop up screechers are gifts from her. Throughout my life I've had ambivalence about that bounty but this year, when mother transitioned to assisted living revealing a sudden frailty, I unwrapped these old toys with new appreciation.

Mom's gifts look different to me now because I see messages in them that are bigger than the things themselves. They represent, for instance, a kind of edgy innocence that's needed in the world today. Bloody mummies stand in for the truly gritty horrors in daily news. Stiff Frankensteins speak of a time when artificial life was laughable. Skeletons? They're a rattling reminder that we'll all be nothing but bones in time. Ghouls, goblins, and creepy creatures of Halloween invite us to take time to relax about more immediate dangers in our world; curb worry, rest anxiety, and laugh at our own fears...if only for one day.

The scarier toys of Halloween remind me to shed occasional light on my dark side. What we don't face, after all, grows stronger. Halloween permits the marginal feelings we all have, at times, to flourish in role play. Wear a crown or halo if you wish but pointed hats and horns are equally accepted on this special day. Dare a romp with your inner zombie and banish the undead aspects of real life. Waltz with the grim reaper for he dances with us all.

Toys urge me to engage! Wind up the witch and make her cackle. Push the casket and make the dead man groan. Playing helps me to let go of stress and live in the present where meaning and memories are made. In this fleeting life couldn't we all benefit from prioritizing playfulness and engaging in life's pleasures? Why not give yourself that gift for this holiday season? Share a glass of cider and enjoy the pumpkin's glow.

As we move, now, into the magic, nostalgia and special gatherings of winter the messages of toys are helpful to remember. Engage with the sensations of the season and resolve to put anxieties and stress aside more often. Ultimately, whatever balance you strike in life, whatever temperament you lean towards, toys represent a wish that you may always appreciate laughter and celebration. Happy Halloween and fangs for reading my blog!!!