The following delightful and timely post, first published as Ex-Pumpkin Reflects on Halloween and Health, is by my Northern California colleague Eric Nelson.
As he says, I wish you a happy Halloween in which you “fear not!”.
When I was a kid – even more than Thanksgiving and Christmas – Halloween was my favorite holiday.
Our home was at the top of a long, steep driveway with huge boulders on either side, providing the perfect setting for our annual fright fest. Mom was in charge of decorating the porch; neighbor kids would help carve Jack-O-Lanterns; and Dad would station himself in a small cornfield along the side of the road, greeting Trick-Or-Treaters from his hidden perch behind a large metal disc painted to look like “The Great Pumpkin.”
After Dad passed on I stepped in as our family’s Halloween chief-of-staff, coordinating the talents of anyone willing to help paint, shovel, hoist, carve, or otherwise pitch in. Of course, I saved the best part – playing the role of “The Great Pumpkin” – for myself. What began as a quaint family tradition soon turned into a multimedia extravaganza complete with fog machines, sound effects, and pyrotechnics – an event that would attract hundreds to our doorstep year after year.
Once Mom passed on and I moved to the Bay Area, even though the house remained in the family, we decided to close up shop. What was once a hallowed holiday became just another day of the week.
Although I have many fond memories from my years as “The Great Pumpkin,” one stands out above them all. It was the opportunity I had to remind all those children who chatted with me before walking up that dark, spooky driveway, that they had absolutely nothing to fear. Don’t get me wrong. My intent was not to burst anyone’s Halloween bubble but simply to let these kids know that they were safe and that no one was going to hurt them. Everything that looked like a ghost, a goblin, or a witch was really just someone pretending to be something that didn’t really exist.
Although this approach didn’t always work (believe me, there were more than a few tears shed!), you could see a change on the faces of those who believed – and trusted – what I was telling them.
This kind of assurance hints at what the occasional reminder to myself to “fear not” has always had, not just on my peace of mind, but also on my health and general well being.
This is not to suggest that when I’m suffering from some physical ailment I simply pretend it’s not there.
On the contrary, I prefer to face it head-on. That said, I think it’s important to recognize that – as many medical professionals would agree – fear can cause or, at the very least, aggravate all kinds of disease and distress. And this needn’t be the case.
Deciding on the most effective way to eliminate fear is, of course, up to the individual involved. For me, prayer is what does the trick… and provides the treat (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun). Not only has it worked to relieve and even remove my pain, it provides a much-needed spiritual boost as well. Even better, I usually find that I’m less likely to be frightened if I’m ever faced with a similar challenge.
Now that I think about it, the next time I wish someone a “Happy Halloween,” I just might throw in a “fear not” as well.
You never know what impact those two words can have on someone’s health.