Thursday, January 1, 2015

The 12 Scares of Christmas: Krampus


Tonight, we continue a seasonal series, exploring the darker side of Christmas. In this season of the darkest nights of the year and ancient traditions celebrating the passing of the season, those of us who are lucky enough to have haunted hearts appreciate the darker, creepy and sometimes terrifying aspects of the winter holiday-- some of which could not be more a part of the Christmas holiday in their own right.

There could be no other choice for the 12 Scare of Christmas. Krampus, the horned one of Christmas, bringing terror to the hearts of children at Christmastime for generations. And, if we haunted hearts are very good, generations more to come. 



 In German speaking folklore, Krampus has long held high court over Christmas. Some have even theorized that this devil-creature dates back to pre-Christian traditions. Although Krampus as a legend has no direct ties to the horned one, also known as Satan himself, the resemblance is uncanny, and one can clearly see the devil's influence on Krampus.

 The main idea behind the legend of Krampus is that he comes in the winter to punish bad children. Krampus often, like Marley's Ghost, carries chains he rattles, along with bells to create a commotion and scare. Krampus carries birch branches, which he uses to beat bad children-- much like Belsnickel. But Krampus goes much further than Belsnickel in his punishment of the bad children. Krampus is often shown with a sack or a washtub on his back-- in which he will take away the bad children to beat, to drown or take them back to Hell.




 In more modern times, the tradition of Krampusnacht, which takes place in Alphine communities on December 6. On Krampusnacht, Saint Nicholas travels with Krampus-- Nicholas, rewarding the good children; and Krampus punishing, or at least terrifying, the bad.

 For the nearly countless generations that Krampus has existed in legend, he appears to finally in our modern times be getting his due. On the sheer strength of how brutally terrifying his myth is, a modern pop culture interest has continued to gain traction in recent years. With a film on its way later this year, based on the popular recent novel "Krampus: The Yule Lord" by author Brom, Krampus is every dark this time of year.

 And we wouldn't have it any other way.


Krampus, from "Krampus: The Yule Lord" 































Photo Credit One: The Atlantic

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The 12 Scares of Christmas: Belsnickel


Tonight, we continue a seasonal series, exploring the darker side of Christmas. In this season of the darkest nights of the year and ancient traditions celebrating the passing of the season, those of us who are lucky enough to have haunted hearts appreciate the darker, creepy and sometimes terrifying aspects of the winter holiday-- some of which could not be more a part of the Christmas holiday in their own right.

For the eleventh scare of Christmas, we head to Germany. Meet Belsnickel, a miserly old gift-bringer who is celebrated in southwestern Germany-- by the Rhine, the Saarland, and areas of Baden-Wuttenberg. The tradition of Belsinckel has also been brought to some Pennsylvania Dutch communities. Belsickel is also found in parts of Newfoundland. 


 Several weeks before Christmas, Belsnickel visits homes of good and bad children alike. For the good girls and boys, Belsnickel brings gifts. For the bad, he carries and switch, with which he beats bad children and tries to scare the naughty from them. He is almost always portrayed as mean, with dirty clothes, and ill-tempered-- perhaps like a less well kept, German Ebeneezer Scrooge. 



 Belsnickel. He knows if you've been bad or good. And if you are bad he beats you. There, ghosts and witches, is our 11th scare of Christmas. 


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The 12 Scares of Christmas: The Kallikantzaros


Tonight, we continue a seasonal series, exploring the darker side of Christmas. In this season of the darkest nights of the year and ancient traditions celebrating the passing of the season, those of us who are lucky enough to have haunted hearts appreciate the darker, creepy and sometimes terrifying aspects of the winter holiday-- some of which could not be more a part of the Christmas holiday in their own right.

"Kallikantzaros"

by Christos in Painting


 For this tenth scare of Christmas, we head to Greece. To meet the Kallikantzaros. The Kallikantzaros are goblin like creatures who roam the Greek countryside during the 12 days of Christmas. Of course. Variations of the creature exist in other Southeastern European cultures, but appear most predmoniantly in Greece. 


 The legend of the Kallikantzaros goes something like this. The whole year round, the goat-footed goblins spend their time toiling under the surface of the Earth, sawing at what is called the World Tree, in order to literally bring down the world. When they begin to finish their work toppling the tree, Christmas happens, and they are released out into the world to spread their terror. When the sun dawns on the day of the Epiphany on January 6, they returned to their underground world to find that the tree has healded itself, and they must begin their work again-- until the next Christmas. 


 And there you have the tenth scare of Christmas. 


Monday, December 29, 2014

The 12 Scares of Christmas: The Yule Cat


Tonight, we continue a seasonal series, exploring the darker side of Christmas. In this season of the darkest nights of the year and ancient traditions celebrating the passing of the season, those of us who are lucky enough to have haunted hearts appreciate the darker, creepy and sometimes terrifying aspects of the winter holiday-- some of which could not be more a part of the Christmas holiday in their own right.

Before we leave Iceland, one more scare of Christmas that lurks there is too good to leave behind. That is the myth of the Yule Cat. 



 According to Icelandic legend, at Christmastime, the Yule Cat lurks in the woods. The monster is a gigantic cat, who exists mainly to eat people who have not received new clothes in time to wear for Christmas Eve. Popular legend also links the cat to Gryla as, of course, her pet house cat. While Gryla was popularizred as a cautionary tale for badly behaved children, the myth of the Yule Cat has been viewed as a cautionary tale to spur productivity in clothing workers, to process the autumn season's wool before Christmas.

Picture Credit: http://themonsterguys.com/tag/yule-cat/

The 12 Scares of Christmas: The Yule Lads


Tonight, we continue a seasonal series, exploring the darker side of Christmas. In this season of the darkest nights of the year and ancient traditions celebrating the passing of the season, those of us who are lucky enough to have haunted hearts appreciate the darker, creepy and sometimes terrifying aspects of the winter holiday-- some of which could not be more a part of the Christmas holiday in their own right.


 For our next scare of Christmas, we remain in Icelandic mythology-- and on the mischevious child-eating Gryla's own family tree. The Yule Lads are a group of 15 unique troll creatures who commit their deeds year round and especially on Christmas. And they just so happen to be Gryla's children, although the legend of Gryla and the Yule Lads existed independently for centuries before they came to be associated as family. 

 Unlike their mother, who abducts, devours and makes stews out of children, the Yule Lads are-- while their own individual brand of creepy -- not as brutal as their mother. Like a demented take on Snow White's seven dwarves, the Yule Lads, each with a name and a certain fascination, are quite the crew. 

 There is Stekkjastaur, who has peg legs and harasses sheep; Askasleikir, who hides under beds and steals bowls; Gattapefur, who uses his large nose to sniff out laufabraud, a type of bread to steal; Gillagaur, who steals milk from cows, Hurdaskellir, who slams doors during the night; Ketkrokur, who has a hook he uses to steal meat; Stufur, who steals pans; Skyrgamur, who steals skyr, a kind of Icelandic strained yogurt; Kertasnikir, who steals candles from children; Pvorusieikir, who steals wooden spoons to lick; Bjugnakraekir, who hides in rafters and steals sausages; Pottasiekir, who steals leftovers from pots; Gluggagegir, who looks through people's windows for things to steals; and, finally, Leppaludi, who is Gryla's husband. 

 And here they are all, explained in a graph from iceland.is. 



Sunday, December 28, 2014

The 12 Scares of Christmas: Gryla


Tonight, we continue a seasonal series, exploring the darker side of Christmas. In this season of the darkest nights of the year and ancient traditions celebrating the passing of the season, those of us who are lucky enough to have haunted hearts appreciate the darker, creepy and sometimes terrifying aspects of the winter holiday-- some of which could not be more a part of the Christmas holiday in their own right.


 The Seventh Scare of this Christmas is a drastic departure from the kindly old, gift-giving lady of the Befana. Readers, meet Gryla, an Icelandic giantess of myth, whose legend dates back to at least the thirteenth century. Her legend last for centuries, and became associated with Christmas sometime during the seventeenth century, when she became known as the mother of the Yule Lads, who will be chronicled in their own post here at the 12 Scares of Christmas. 

 Gryla's legend dates back to the "Edda," which was a thirteenth century written account of Old Norse prose and poetry, which is the main source of what we know today as Old Norse mythology. The legend of Gryla, as it was come to be known, goes something like this. Throughout the year, from her mountain cave home, Gryla can detect misbehaving, bad children. At Christmas she comes out of her home to eat bad children. End of story. Gryla eats children. As evidenced in this painting below. 



Saturday, December 27, 2014

The 12 Scares of Christmas: La Befana


Tonight, we continue a seasonal series, exploring the darker side of Christmas. In this season of the darkest nights of the year and ancient traditions celebrating the passing of the season, those of us who are lucky enough to have haunted hearts appreciate the darker, creepy and sometimes terrifying aspects of the winter holiday-- some of which could not be more a part of the Christmas holiday in their own right.

 Coming in at number 6 on the 12 Scares of Christmas is La Befana, the Christmas witch from Italy. The Ghost has been intrigued enough by the legend of the Befana to write of her before, and even created Christmas cookies of the witch of the yuletide. 


Painting by James Lewicki, from "The Golden Book of Christmas Tales" 1956. 

 The legend of the Befana goes something like this-- though, as legends do, the stories vary and change throughout the year and in the words of the teller. The Befana was an old woman, or a witch, who was tending her house somewhere in a land before the birth of Jesus Christ, and she was visited by the three wise men who were travelling to visit the baby Jesus. After staying at her house a night, the wise men left and asked the Befana to come with them to see the baby Jesus. The Befana declined, in many of the tails because she had too much housework to do, too much sweeping with her broom. Sometime after the three men left, the Befana regretted her decision, and she took off after them-- and never reached the wise men she had met or Jesus himself. And so, she goes from house to house every Christmas, looking for the baby Jesus, and leaving gifts, presents or tokens for the children she does find. Yes, in some areas of our great world, Santa Claus is an old witch on a broom. 
Photo from Scienze.fanpage.it

 Although the Befana is never-- in the majority of tellings-- meant to be a witch who scares children, the fact that the Christmas season contains a witch lands the old woman on list of the scariness of Christmas. Because, in the end, the Befana represents all the figure of the witch is about: a character who can be, for lack of a more impartial term, villified by being dubbed a scary witch simply because she is different, old and carries a broom. 








      In today's culture, the Befana is depicated as everything from a kindly, warm and inviting old lady or grandmother type, to a straight up witch with a pointed hat and nose and cackling cat, a refugee from the world of Halloween. But whatever way the old woman may be represented, I think we can all agree that the season of snow and multi-colored lights and good will to men could use a little more witchiness, no? 



Friday, December 26, 2014

The 12 Scares of Christmas: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come


Tonight, we continue a seasonal series, exploring the darker side of Christmas. In this season of the darkest nights of the year and ancient traditions celebrating the passing of the season, those of us who are lucky enough to have haunted hearts appreciate the darker, creepy and sometimes terrifying aspects of the winter holiday-- some of which could not be more a part of the Christmas holiday in their own right.

      The fifth scare of Christmas needs no introduction. Easily the scariest installment among Scrooge's Christmas Eve visitors, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come has been scaring Scrooge-- and readers and viewers-- for 171 years. 




       The Last of the Spirits has made the Grim Reaper as synonymous with Christmas as the big man in the red suit. Shown almost always in long, black robes which call to mind the most classic depictions of the grim reaper-- the spirit who comes for souls to take them to death-- this last Ghost shows Scrooge the bleakness of the Future, one where Tiny Tim has died, and Scrooge himself sits alone, reviled and physically forgotten, in a cold, snowy churchyard cemetery.


Disney's "The Muppet Christmas Carol" 1992



      Whether depicted without a face, or with a skeleton face revealed beneath the hood, this Ghost is silent and scary. He caps off Scrooges night and the plea from beyond the grave by leaving Scrooge with the thoughts of all he has remembered and seen-- in the past, present and future-- and offers him no insight but what he can show him. In some adaptations, the Ghost leaves Scrooge alone in the cemetery, in others Scrooge falls through to his grave, his coffin-- ending up back in his bed, safe and alive but changed. All in all, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to come does his best to bring some haunting into the Decemeber season.
A Christmas Carol - Illustrator P. J. Lynch.
Illustrator: P. J. Lynch

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The 12 Scares of Christmas: The Ghost of Christmas Present


Tonight, we continue a seasonal series, exploring the darker side of Christmas. In this season of the darkest nights of the year and ancient traditions celebrating the passing of the season, those of us who are lucky enough to have haunted hearts appreciate the darker, creepy and sometimes terrifying aspects of the winter holiday-- some of which could not be more a part of the Christmas holiday in their own right.

      The fourth scare of Christmas on our list is the least traditionally ghostly of Charles Dickens' creation: The Ghost of Christmas Present. Unlike Jacob Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Past, this ghost has not come to scare Scrooge; at least at face value. 
EB Image
Alastair Sim and Francis De Wolff in "Scrooge" later known retitled "A Christmas Carol" 1951

      Normally depicted as a fire haired Father Christmas, St. Nicholas and/or Santa Claus figure, the Ghost of Christmas Present is the jolliest, and most inviting of the ghosts, seeming to go easy-- at least at first-- on our protagonist who needs to change. "'Come in!' exclaimed the Ghost. 'Come in! and know me better, man!'" 
   
     For most of his part, the Ghost of Christmas Present is subtle. Showing Scrooge the boisterous happiness of Christmas begins to crack Scrooge's icy exterior. And by showing him the Crachit family on Christmas Eve, and first presenting Scrooge with the problem of Tiny Tim-- the sweet innocent boy who is gravely ill-- the Ghost begins to show Scrooge that which most disturbs him: the chance the Tiny Tim might die.


     This Ghost, however, quickly gets scary. What many adaptations gloss over, change or emit entirely, is the revealation of Ignorance and Want-- portrayed by two almost feral, stricken children emerging from beneath the Ghost's robe-- showing Ebeneezer in frightening detail the enemies that lie just below our present Christmas happiness, and are capable of destroying the spirit of yuletide joy it brings.

Disney's "A Christmas Carol" 2009

     And destroy they do. What is also not always depicted in your average "A Christmas Carol" adaptation, is how the Ghost of Christmas Present leaves Scrooge: in a violent, disturbing death which leaves the literal shell, the skeleton, of the Christmas Spirit that so charmed Scrooge. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The 12 Scares of Christmas: The Ghost of Christmas Past


Tonight, we continue a seasonal series, exploring the darker side of Christmas. In this season of the darkest nights of the year and ancient traditions celebrating the passing of the season, those of us who are lucky enough to have haunted hearts appreciate the darker, creepy and sometimes terrifying aspects of the winter holiday-- some of which could not be more a part of the Christmas holiday in their own right.

“’Your lip is trembling,’” the Ghost of Christmas past tells Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ novel. But the trembling is not, as would be typical with a spectral, frightening appearance, the result of Scrooge’s fear—it is because of Scrooge’s memory, and the emotions associated with his youth. Yes, the first of the three ghosts Jacob Marley announces to visit Scrooge isn’t the scariest of the lot, but she or he does play a significant part in the scaring of Scrooge back to the life he should be leading. 

 Unlike Marley, with his shaking chains and moans, the Ghost of Christmas past is not out to horrify and unnerve Scrooge. The role this ghost plays is to make Scrooge remember, in all the glory of what came before, exactly what his past looked like; who he was, who he was with, and how he felt. And in a way to Scrooge, that fear—that the person he was in the past with his sister, his friends and the woman he loved could never be again—is one of most frightening experiences that makes Scrooge change. If he cannot go back to his past and change it, he can, as he goes forward into the Christmases of the Present and the Future, do justice to the past, by remembering who he was before he changed.

 While the majority of the “A Christmas Carol” ghosts have standard depictions—Marley with his chains forged in life, the Ghost of Christmas Present a fire-haired Saint Nicholas figure, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come a variation of the grim reaper—the ghost of the past is often depicted differently. While the general idea from Dickens novel is often adhered to—a candle-like figure that can be, like the past, extinguished—most film and television adaptations have chosen different routes—sometimes depicting the ghost as a woman, sometimes a man; sometimes a young girl, but, always, with a floating, temporary presence that embodies what the past is to the reader of the viewer.
““These are but shadows of the things that have been,” said the Ghost. “They have no consciousness of us.” “
Photo Credits:
First Photo: Bret Helquist
Second Photo: Walt Disney Pictures, "A Muppet Christmas Carol."


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The 12 Scares of Christmas: Jacob Marley


     Tonight, we continue a seasonal series, exploring the darker side of Christmas. In this season of the darkest nights of the year and ancient traditions celebrating the passing of the season, those of us who are lucky enough to have haunted hearts appreciate the darker, creepy and sometimes terrifying aspects of the winter holiday-- some of which could not be more a part of the Christmas holiday in their own right.



 "Marley was dead: to begin with." From the very opening line, every reader of Charles Dickens' classic novel "A Christmas Carol" knows she or he is in for an encounter with that which goes bump in the night. "There is no doubt whatever about that, The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was dead as a door-nail."



 "A Christmas Carol" has been adapted countless times for film, televisiona and theater. The story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, an old miserly rich man cold to the world who is visited by ghosts of his past, present and future is an essential part of the Christmas experience. And four of the story's main characters-- at least-- just so happen to be visitors from beyond the grave. Whether in 1834 England when Dickens published his work, or in our modern world, there is a timelessness about the story, of a person needing to be scared straight back into life by a parade of ghosts.


 Jacob Marley, the first ghost to appear to Scrooge, is as much a spirit of Christmas as Santa Claus or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. With his clanking chains and cloth tied around his mouth to keep his dead jaw from falling open in the grave, Marley is a classic specter in every sense of the word. Arriving with the tone of a late night clock, in an old, empty and drafty house, shaking his chains. While the ghosts whose telling Jacob foretells are, as written by Dickens, original takes on kinds of ghosts, Marley is a ghost in great, long tradition of ghosts. In more direct words, Jacob Marley is scary. He is dead, and he has come to haunt Scrooge-- with a purpose, to attempt to save his former business partner from the fate he found himself in once the grave lid shut. 

First Photo:

Walt Disney Pictures 



Monday, December 22, 2014

The 12 Scares of Christmas: Scary Ghost Stories


     Tonight, we begin a seasonal series, exploring the darker side of Christmas. In this season of the darkest nights of the year and ancient traditions celebrating the passing of the season, those of us who are lucky enough to have haunted hearts appreciate the darker, creepy and sometimes terrifying aspects of the winter holiday-- some of which could not be more a part of the Christmas holiday in their own right. And here are 12 of them. 


     I suppose I never really paid attention to the lyrics of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” before. Today on the radio I caught the line “there’ll be scary ghost stories..." Now, is this a reference to the novel "A Christmas Carol?" Or this, which I found on Wikipedia about the song: "The song is a celebration and description of activities associated with the Christmas season, focusing primarily on get-togethers between friends and families. Among the activities included in the song is the telling of "scary ghost stories," a Victorian Christmas tradition that has mostly fallen into disuse, but survives in the seasonal popularity of numerous adaptations of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.” 

 Apparently, Dickens' now immortal work, which lives far beyond the grave, is a part of a long tradition of yuletide ghosts. Published in 1843, "A Christmas Carol" stands relativley early in the Victorian era. However, Dickens himself wrote of the tradition of Christmas ghost stories, writing in 1859: "'There is probably a smell of roasted chesnuts and other good comfrotable things all the time, for we are telling Winter Stories- Ghost Stories, or more shame for us- round the Christmas fire.'" 

 So this Christmas, when you are sitting sipping your eggnog warm by the fire, the tree lights aglow, waiting for the magic of Christmas morning through the night...  Invite a ghost story or to in from the cold. It's only tradition.

-What a Witch and The Ghost

"It's the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you "Be of good cheer"
It's the most wonderful time of the year
It's the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It's the hap- happiest season of all
There'll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories
Of Christmases long, long ago
It's the most wonderful time of the year
There'll be much mistltoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When loved ones are near
It's the most wonderful time of the year
There'll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories
Of Christmases long, long ago
It's the most wonderful time of the year
There'll be much mistltoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When loved ones are near
It's the most wonderful time
It's the most wonderful time
It's the most wonderful time of the year." 


Song Lyrics: Edward Pola and George Wyle
Photograph: Bryan Ball, 2013. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November Thoughts


 Tonight, Ghost and What a Witch share their thoughts on what it means now that the Halloween season has come and gone. What does it mean now that Halloween is over? When do the decorations come down-- and how far into November does All Hallow's Eve stop? 

Ghosts and Monsters on Your Street

     A sadness comes over me every first week of November when It’s time to put away the Halloween decorations. To me, it means the end of harvest season, the passing of my favorite holiday, the demise of all the brilliant reds, yellows, browns and greens I get accustomed to seeing this time of year, and the end of the oddly comforting smells of leaves piling on the ground. Next comes the bitter cold, the mounds of snow, the leafless trees and neighbors and friends retreating to their warm houses, going into semi hibernation. Each year I find that I am never quite ready to let go of this season of abundance. I’m never ready to replace my lovingly carved pumpkins with portly, smiling Santas. I forever resist the transition from summer to winter.

     What A Witch’s house is not elaborately decorated. I favor more natural elements like scattered pumpkins, colorful mums, rustic scarecrows and a sole ghost hanging from my Japanese maple tree. Inside I display some spooky skulls, vases and modern fall d├ęcor. Yet I admire and envy those who go to the extreme to celebrate the season.

     So many houses I see these days have festive, funny or scary displays. The house across the street from me had a bit of everything; pumpkins galore, spooky ghosts, a life sized Bride of Frankenstein, as well as comical giant spiders. I have also seen those who have set up entire haunted houses in their garages or yard tents, complete with spooky music and lights, ghosts zombies and skeletons! I appreciate the neighborhoods where residents compete for the spookiest holiday decorations.  For some people when it comes to Halloween decorating…more…is more!

     It is the one time of year that it becomes normal to look abnormal and to really use the imagination. With each yard display I am taken back to my childhood: happy memories of trick or treating, retreating to my father’s protective arms when a neighbor in costume jumped from a tree or popped out at me from a hedge….of the terror of running up a sidewalk of animated skeletons to get to the giant bowl of candy at the end, of the awe of the sights and sounds.  

     According to a recently released study from the International Council of Shopping Centers, nearly three-quarters of U.S. households had planned to spend money on Halloween related items this past October. Of these families, the total for Halloween spending was expected to be around $11.3 billion this year. I hope this means that with each year…more people are getting the Halloween decorating bug. I hope that it is infectious enough that people will put up their displays earlier each year and leave them lingering just a bit longer for those of us who dread the passing of the season.

     Until then…I have resolved to do more. Next year I will think bigger, scarier…more…..let the planning begin.

-What A Witch




 Looking for the Ghost 

     Every November I give up. Let go. The days leading up to All Hallow’s Eve are always bursting and speeding; falling like leaves to the ground. I do so much for the day; the day comes. And then it is gone.

      The Ghost has no time when he plans to take down his decorations. The haunted house he lives in doesn’t lose Halloween completely at any time throughout the year—witches, Dia de los Muertoes skulls and similar oddities live on my desk and in my study twelve months’ round. The majority of the decorations I do put out eventually creep back to boxes, carefully numbered and with best attempts at taking an inventory. But that is not for a few weeks. The pumpkins and small gourds uncarved remain for the November holiday. That day when the last of the harvest meals happens comes, and goes. When the Ghost is ready, he pulls the cobwebs from the bushes, the shining orange lights from around the door. The tombstones come down from the yard, and it is like the ground never opened up for one night and let the souls of the departed, the eerie, the weird and the fascinating strange walk the earth.

       Always, this comes with a sadness. A fast relief fades to disappointment. This year I packed in so much—from the rows of the pumpkin patch, to the halls of the haunted houses, to cookie baking and pumpkin carving and costume donning—but you always want more of the orange pumpkin glow. The panic that set in when you think you didn’t think you would finish in time, or have enough candy or hanging ghosts to live in the imaginations of your neighborhood’s children—that is gone. And in that moment there is relief. But your season has gone, and it is sad, and soon the life that is Halloween—the screaming scary brilliant colored abundance of the harvest and the holiday-- will fade into the dark. The snow, the earth cold, covered and gone. The seeds do not bloom and the dead stay buried underneath us.

      Which is why I keep this blog. To keep that spark of the jack o’lantern lighting the night throughout the year. Some of us, the haunted hearts of the world—the ghosts and the witches—see in the darkness and appreciate that what comes to life on Halloween; in March, in June, in December. Soon, I will throw out the last of my carved pumpkins, the saddest sound as they hit and break, with their collapsed face, the bottom of the trash bin. Soon, there may be bells jingling from these haunted halls. But for the some of us, the lucky few, we will always have the season’s ghost.

-Ghost